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Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)
Debonair. Defiant. Defrosted.
Filmmaker(s): Jay Roach

As a swinging fashion photographer by day and a groovy British superagent by night, Austin Powers is the '60s' most shagadelic spy. But can he stop megalomaniac Dr. Evil after the bald villain freezes himself and unthaws in the '90s? With the help of sexy sidekick Vanessa Kensington, he just might.

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)

The Pamela Urge

I saw this with ‘Borat’. It didn’t work for me. Neither comedy did; the reasons seem related.

If you put distance between something and it’s source, then you have opportunity for low humour. The closer you get to the original or the reference, the sharper you have to be on both sides of the screen.

I thought “Wayne’s World” was sharp stuff. It moved seamlessly from being in a genre to making fun of it, moving randomly.

This is comparatively a safe and lazy project. The distance is great and the humour broad and repetitive. Yet it didn’t work for me.

The reason is that the humour depends on the thing being trashed being something that someone has valued. That “distance” I mentioned is usually distance between you and the people being made fun of.

The joke is that someone actually thought the prototypes were worth investing in. “Escape” (as in escape movies) is a powerful thing and we do not choose our escapes casually. We define ourselves in significant degree this way.

I never did with this genre. I was lucky enough to have escaped valuing the excesses of the 70s by being “stuck” in the 60s.

There are only a few strokes in the references here anyway: an evil overload behind a threatening conspiracy; a strangely magnetic, privileged and successful agent; and a collection of style-related things from the 70s: fashion, phrases, music and a very few cinematic references.

Posted in 2009

Ted’s Evaluation — 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.


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