“Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery”

How Austin's sausage got bitten.

Topics: Movies,

“Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery”
Directed by Jay Roach
Starring Mike Myers, Elizabeth Hurley, Michael York, Mimi Rogers
New Line Studios; full screen (1.33:1) and widescreen (1.90:1 aspect ratio)
Extras: Director and star commentary, deleted scenes including alternative endings, production notes, trailers, more

On the big screen, the first of Mike Myers’ Austin Powers projects, “International Man of Mystery,” was one of those puffy, candy-colored delights that nevertheless got dragged down a bit by its sluggish patches. But it’s one of those movies that play beautifully on DVD: The slow parts are much more forgivable on the small screen, and the movie’s hedonistically kitschy details whir by like pop-art pinwheels.

Myers has thought out the Powers character down to every tic, but the secret ingredient that makes Powers so appealing is the naughty-schoolboy kick that Myers gets out of being inside him. The costumes (fitted velvet jackets and striped trousers), the props (that heart-shaped thicket of hair on Austin’s chest) and the expressions (“Groovy, baby!”) have all earned a comfortable place in pop-culture consciousness because they have just the right balance of gentle mockery and admiration for ’60s swingerdom. They capture the fine line so many of us cross when we find ourselves giggling at pictures of parents or older siblings (or ourselves!) in groovy threads, only to suddenly begin wondering if we might be able to find a tailor who could create modern-day versions for us.

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Elizabeth Hurley, with her glamour-schoolgirl charm, is a terrific foil for Myers; she’s the kind of actress who can pull off jumping up and down on a hotel bed in an evening gown and not make it seem like just a cute stunt. Austin needs her if he’s going to fend off the treacherous Dr. Evil (Myers again, with his Donald Pleasance chrome-dome and fake-monocle facial scar), if only because she looks so smashing in the silver-foil miniskirt outfit she sports late in the movie.

The extras here are goofy and toylike, great fun to flip through even if they don’t tell you much. The deleted scenes include two alternative endings, both of which feature Myers and Hurley afloat in an inflatable raft, Hurley wearing a delectable replica of Ursula Andress’ white “Dr. No” bikini. You’ll probably be happy director Jay Roach went with the ending he did, but both movie-fashion fans and red-blooded hetero males owe it to themselves to check out that bikini.

The commentary, by Roach and Myers, is a good example of how members of a filmmaking team can be very funny on film and stiff when they’re forced to talk about it. (And can you blame them? Dancing about architecture has to be harder when you actually know how to build the damn things.) In the best moments, Roach explains how Myers and Hurley pulled off the movie’s amazing, and beautifully orchestrated, sight gags (including Hurley’s taking a bite out of a sausage that conveniently covers Austin’s privates as he cavorts in the background). And Myers confesses extreme fondness for Mr. Bigglesworth, Dr. Evil’s hairless cat, played by a cat actor named, Myers tells us, Ted Nude-gent. “I loved that cat,” Myers burbles. “It was like holding somebody’s ass in your arms.” Oh, be-haave!

Stephanie Zacharek is a senior writer for Salon Arts & Entertainment.

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