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'Austin Powers': Rip van Bond

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
May 2, 1997


Scene from this movie

Jay Roach
Mike Meyers;
Elizabeth Hurley;
Michael York;
Mimi Rogers;
Robert Wagner;
Tom Arnold;
Carrie Fisher;
Rob Lowe;
Cheri Oteri;
Christian Slater
Running Time:
1 hour, 28 minutes
Children under 13 should be accompanied by a parent

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"Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery" takes the crease out of James Bond's tuxedo, but with much less style than recent parodies of the bikini-and-Beretta genre.

In fact, the originals were spoofs in their own way, too, unless you really believe that secret agents look more like Sean Connery than Aldrich Ames.

Mike Myers, the creator of "Wayne's World," wrote and co-produced this piddling spoof and also stars as the beaver-toothed title character, an undercover agent whose far-out Carnaby Street threads and shag rug of a chest toupee make him irresistible to women. He has not, however, seen much action since 1967, when he was frozen by covert higher-ups, who thaw him out here to battle his recently defrosted old nemesis, Dr. Evil (also Myers).

Powers, who went to sleep during the heyday of peace, love and Burt Bacharach, is the spy who came back from the cold, a perfectly preserved relic of groovier times. Evil, after 30 years in deep freeze, is similarly out of sync with the '90s, and a comedy of mores, past and present, is alleged to result.

Evil's mad schemes have become unnecessary thanks to Number Two (Robert Wagner), the business manager who has parlayed his ill-gotten gains into a successful multinational corporation. But then the good doctor still thinks a million dollars is a lot of money. This and his continuing devotion to Nehru jackets make him the perfect adversary for Powers, who devotes more time to pursuing the daughter (Elizabeth Hurley) of his retired partner, Mrs. Kensington (Mimi Rogers), than to stopping the demented doctor.

It's the unfortunate young woman's job to introduce this addlepated sex maniac to the sad realities of sex in the '90s. Hardly fazed by her warning, Powers is off to make whoopee -- and to pass a bit of gas -- in a hot tub with the villainess.

"Octopussy" practically comes off as a feminist manifesto by comparison. Last year's Bond movie, "Goldeneye," was definitely hipper, funnier and more aware of its own politically incorrect shortcomings. For that matter, so was "Casino Royale," and that was 30 years ago.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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