Monday, 23 April 2012

Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me Commentary

One basic truth about movies is that it is very rare for a sequel to be even as good as the original much less better.  Most of what makes a movie good is difficult to mimic in a sequel without making the viewer think it's just the same old thing.  I'm not saying that The Spy Who Shagged me is better than International man of Mystery.  It isn't.  In fact, almost everything that is done in the second one was also done in the first one.  But if those gags and jokes weren't so damn funny, then it would have been terrible.  Just like the first one, the second one has the complete randomness in many jokes and the preposterous satire of the James Bond movies that made us all love the first one.

I think it is this satire that makes it tolerable.  If you are a fan of the James Bond movies (and I am a huge fan), you will notice that they are very formulaic right up until the Daniel Craig reboot (and even that portion is following its own formula).  But that's a formula that I never seem to get tired of.  I can even watch On Her Majesty's Secret Service multiple times.  So it stands to reason that I would like a series of movies that does a clever job of making fun of them.  And, just as the Bond movies got more preposterous in the 80s, the Austin Powers movies get more preposterous as they go along.  Like I said, it's all the same jokes but they just take them a bit further and make them even more over the top.  This is well symbolized in having Elvis Costello join Burt Bacharach in the stupid little love song.

Technically, there is nothing very good about this movie save for the writing.  When you consider that they were really just regurgitating jokes form the first one in slightly different form, you must admit that they did it well.  They took a different story but gave it all the same elements because that's what Bond would do.  Yet, they still managed to make it funny.  Everything else about the movie is average.  it is obviously very much a sound stage movie (something they even allude to on a Southern California road) and the acting is average at best.  If anything stood out for me it was Rob Lowe as a young Number Two.    I thought that was a very good choice to be a young version of Robert Wagner.  In Mike Myers' three roles, he is always at his best as Dr. Evil.  Ever since his monologue in the first one, he is the villain we all love because he's just so odd and would fit in as a failed villain on the Venture Brothers.

Yes, it's inferior to the first.  Yes, the acting is average.  Yes, it isn't an overly well made movie.  Yes, the female lead is inferior to the first.  But I will always give it a See recommendation because it does the one thing it sets out to do.  It makes the viewer laugh and laugh a lot.  So, see it.  Leave all pretentiousness and movie snobbery at the door and have some fun.

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