Today being Thursday, Max over at Impassioned Cinema hosts a particular segment entitled “Trilogy Thursday” in which, along with someone else, he takes a look at a movie trilogy. Usually he shares this undertaking with Claire from Cinematic Delights. This past week, he asked me to contribute.
The trilogy chosen: Austin Powers (a trilogy I had never bothered to watch). Not the least bit interested in the series, the task of watching all 3 and writing about them was at hand! I watched them all within 24 powers to be able to accomplish this task. It was, shall we say, “psychedelic.”
Are you an Austin Powers fan? Below are the thoughts of Max and I on Austin Powers.
Max: The ultimate comedy swirl on the ever popular James Bond series. Austin Powers follows a 60′s British Spy Icon through his unfreezing (and endless pee cycle) because he is needed once again to stop the evil…Dr.Evil. I can’t even begin to remember how Dr.Evil plans to end the world this time, but Austin Powers is up for the job. Mike Myers plays both characters in this chapter of the series and it can be argued the Dr.Evil might be the more memorable character from the series. Austin finds himself teamed up with the daughter of his former partner, Vanessa Kensington (Elizabeth Hurley). The gags are memorable here and it’s a fine one off film, but things get a little more problematic in the sequels. One of the best gags in this movie was the creation of the fembots. It’s a fantastic idea that seems to be lifted from Myers inspiration for his character: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
T: When this 007 parody film came out, I honestly wasn’t the least bit interested. A hipster spy from the swinging 60′s with bad teeth and an insatiable taste for women, adventure, and care-free loving is thawed out after being cryo-frozen for decades when the world is threatened and in need of saving. He is awakened in the 1990s to stop his old nemesis (the recently also-unthawed Dr. Evil) who has threatened the world with nuclear destruction. This quirky adventurer is joined by the beautiful agent Vanessa Kensington (Elizabeth Hurley) to stop Dr. Evil and, together, they fight against fembots with machine gun brassieres and several other inappropriately/hilariously named villains in this fun-filled, sex-crazed, bold comedic spoof of spy films from the 60′s. We’ve all heard of celebrities naming their kids weird names, but any parent who names their kid “Alotta Fagina” has some SERIOUS issues! (And you thought Jermajesty, child of Jermaine Jackson, had it bad!) haha. I jest. It’s all part of the fun of the movie sharing in the free love ideology of the 60′s, but seriously!
I laughed here and there, but found the “pause and stare/talk to the camera” scenes and the “interrupting completely unrelated-yet tell a little story” scenes to get old very quickly. (The television show “Scrubs” really did perfect the use of such scenes.) The best part of this movie (aside from Seth Green), by far, was Mike Myers. His multi-character performance excelled and made several characters come to life with their own personalities, looks, and passions. Proving he could be more than just be Wayne Campbell of Wayne’s World. (Eddie Murphy, why can’t you learn from Myers?) Overall, this was a fun introduction to an outlandish set of characters. Though 2-dimensional, they were funny. I couldn’t really see where else the series could go…but, the sequel came and two years later, The Spy Who Shagged Me showed up!
Max: Low and behold Austin’s bride has turned out to be an evil fembot! The movie begins with that terribly hard to believe fact that just makes us realize we’re not here for a story at all. In order to stop Dr. Evil this time, Austin must travel back into the 60′s to get his mojo back. Myers decides to add another character of his own into the series (Fat Bastard). While he has some great lines overall he doesn’t work. The female lead from the last one was deleted so that Austin Powers could have a new love interest. Felicity Shagwell (Heather Graham) provides that element and they seemingly have decent chemistry. The finale of this film is taken right out of Moonraker. Easily one of the worst Bond movies, it was ripe for spoofing. If there’s a scene I remember from this movie it’s easily when Felicity and Austin are casting shadows on the side of the tent.
T: Powers returns, and impressively off the bat this sequel got my attention because it began right where its predecessor left off! Great way to keep continuity and relate to the adventure at hand! (That’s one of the strengths to me in a series…try watching Star Wars: Episode IV immediately after watching Episode III…FAIL.)
In this adventure, Powers discovers that things from his previous mission were not all what they seemed and things get even more complicated when he loses his “mojo!” Several new characters are introduced in this sequel including Myers in a fat suit and the gorgeous Heather Graham as agent Felicity Shagwell. Dr. Evil now has a time machine and successfully goes back in time and steals Powers’ mojo! Now, without his sexual prowess, Powers must fight to thwart Dr. Evil’s never-ending/never-changing plan that he just might have learned from one “Pinky and the Brain.”
The added characters in this film brought the right amount of freshness to this otherwise stale sequel. Dr. Evil’s clone “Mini-Me”, Fat Bastard, Felicity Shagwell, and more made the film just FUN with each scene. (I did, however, find Fat Bastard to be a little redundant over the course of the film.) The continuity of the same actors reprising their previous roles allowed the newcomers to shine in their respect and did make the film just plain fun. A film like this needs to be “just plain fun.” It makes fun of itself and of other blockbuster films. While still using some of the same outlandish and droll jokes from the first Austin Powers film, The Spy Who Shagged Me was weirdly enjoyable. Not my brand of comedy, per se, but I liked it. Perhaps for Heather Graham (best part of this installment); or perhaps for the continuation of the awesome choices of music. I cared little about the mission and just wanted to find something to enjoy after not being greatly impressed by the first film.
Max: There is little redeeming about this third chapter in the Austin Powers franchise. At this point, Mike Myers decides to add another villain to the cast in the form of Goldmember. Also, the actress of choice for this movie? Beyoncé Knowles. She’s a beautiful woman, but other than Dreamgirls, I don’t think she’ll really ever be an actor. Gags from the previous movie get recycled and a lot of the comedy seems really forced. What was once a good time and sort of ingenious, becomes labored by this final film. Even the twist they reveal is kind of poor. It seems like it was a good time to hang up the peace sign.
T: The brand of comedy continues with similar plot line, ridiculous character names, and odd twists and turns. The all too familiar style now brings with it a sense of “ho-hum…been there, done that, got the t-shirt” as this third installment seeks to out-do everything the previous two did. Now another time-traveling villain threatens Austin Powers…the infamous Goldmember. Agent Powers must partner (?) with his nemesis, Dr. Evil in order to locate and squash Goldmember’s plan. By this time around, You would think that SOMEONE would’ve thought to have Austin travel back in time to kill Dr. Evil when he was born or something! But, no. Powers now must travel back to 1975 to rescue his father who has been kidnapped and taken back to the 70′s. Dr. Evil and Mini-Me, having escaped from prison, team up with another bad guy named “Goldmember” in order to once again attempt to extort billions of dollars from the world’s governments. Although, this time around, tons more cameos and cast members make appearances to distract from the horribly executed third installment of the series.
Beyoncé Knowles, Tim Robbins, Fred Savage, Tom Cruise, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kevin Spacey, and even Michael Caine can’t make this movie great. As Ozzy Osbourne (yes, Ozzy) pointed out in the movie: they just keep rehashing the same type of jokes from the second movie in the third one and hope it turns out to be just as funny. Well, it doesn’t work. A rather boring attempt at entertaining audiences with the same antics and adventures as seen before, Austin Powers: Goldmember barely amuses. Expectations were low and stayed there.
Max: When explaining the Austin Powers trilogy to people I usually start by saying the first film has the best story. The second film has the best laughs, but terrible story. Then the third film has terrible laughs and terrible story. The movies work well since they aren’t taking themselves too seriously. Austin Powers seems to be the only live-action role Mike Myers has ever had success with. While he was tinkering with the idea of a fourth movie, I think it’d be best if Austin Powers was able to enjoy the rest of his days out of the cineplex. If you haven’t seen the first movie yet though and are looking for a decent comedy pick that up. If you enjoy it, try the second.
T: I never had any interest in this series, and, now after watching all three in less than 24 hours, I will say that my position still stands. Austin Powers is, though, a well-thought out comedy in that it pokes fun at the spy genre and capitalizes on the plot holes and fun adventures that make the laughs identifiable and enjoyable. But, as the series continues, its outlandishness and high amount of reused comedy and innuendos keeps its rewatchability very low while keeping the level of disinterest very high.
I like the films in the following order: 2,1,3.
I will say this, as stated before, they did a fantastic job in staying consistent in style, casting, music, innuendo inclusion, and ridiculousness. If it is the brand of comedy one enjoys, then all three will please. But as for me, if given the choice to watch these films again, rest assured…my answer will not be “YEAH, BABY!”
[Note from T: Thanks again to Max of Impassioned Cinema for inviting me to help out with Trilogy Thursday!]
Other Films in the Trilogy Thursday Series:
Thanks for reading! Happy Watching!
–T, The Focused Filmographer