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Austin Powers

Austin Powers

The two Austin Powers films brought to the screen by Mike Myers (1963–) are spoof spy thrillers based on classics such as Our Man Flint (1965) and the James Bond (see entry under 1960s—Film and Theater in volume 4) film series. The two movies make clever mockery of 1960s music, speech, and fashion. Austin Powers, played by Myers, is the "shag-edelic" spy from 1960s swinging London. He drives an E-type Jaguar, complete with Union Jack paint job, and has a psychedelic jumbo jet. Based on the culture clash between the 1960s and the 1990s, the films' humor is sometimes subtle, sometimes adult, but always very, very silly.

The first Austin Powers movie premiered in 1997. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery sees Powers awaken after thirty years of cryogenic sleep to the news that his old enemy, Dr. Evil (also played by Myers), has returned. The confused Dr. Evil wants to hold the world hostage and sets his ransom demand at . . . "One million dollars!" He is advised that in the 1990s, $100 billion would be a better suggestion. Austin Powers, working with the grown-up daughter of his 1960s side-kick, soon finds that the era of free love is long gone. The second film, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999), offers more of the same, plus time travel, an agent called Felicity Shagwell, and a one-eighth-size clone of Dr. Evil, called "Mini Me."

Canadian-born Myers carries a British passport and is a well-known Anglophile (a fan of British culture). As Austin Powers, he indulged his love of all things British, including the spy's terrible teeth. Besides ridiculing 1960s spy blockbusters, the Austin Powers movies are also in the tradition of the British "Carry On" comedy movies of the 1950s and 1960s. Between them, the two movies netted Myers an estimated $10 million. They found an enthusiastic audience that was more than willing to use catch-phrases from the movie and even wear the costumes. Because of Austin Powers, in the late 1990s, things became "groovy" and "smashing" again for the first time in thirty years.

—Chris Routledge

For More Information

McCullers, Michael, and Mike Myers. Austin Powers: How to Be an International Man of Mystery. New York: Boulevard Books, 1997.

Official Austin Powers Website. (accessed April 4, 2002).

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