Allow himself to reintroduce himself. It’s been 20 years since the world fell in love Austin “Danger” Powers despite his bad teeth, ability to turn just about anything into sexual innuendo and highly questionable espionage abilities. Or perhaps these were things that endeared us to the International Man of Mystery, brought to life by Mike Myers, who also took on the role of his pinky-tipping nemesis, Dr. Evil.
“Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery” hit theaters in 1997 and Myers went on to appear in “The Spy Who Shagged Me” (1999) and somehow convinced pre-deity Beyoncé to star alongside him in ”Goldmember” (2002). He’s even gone on record saying he’d “love to do another,” teasing the possibility of a fourth entry, if the right story comes along.
The quality of the films were put into greater question as the franchise went on, but the original flick still retains a certain creative punch that enshrined Myers and Powers in a special place in pop culture history.
Some moments in the film have aged better than others (the less said about Will Ferrell playing a prototypical Arab villain the better), but there’s an undeniable wit, charm and, dare we say it, heart to “Austin Powers” that still makes it infinitely watchable 20 years later.
1. Mike Myers ‘Parent Trap”-ing like the rent is due.
Say what you want about Mike Myers’ brand of comedy (puerile, offensive, should be jailed for thinking the “Love Guru” was ever funny), but the way he creates two distinct characters out of Austin Powers and the arch-villain Dr. Evil is pure comedic genius.
The two characters rarely appear on screen together ― everybody play spot the body double when they do ― but thanks to a bald cap, prosthetics and a mean scar, you completely forget that Myers is playing both hero and villain and making us laugh till it hurts all the while.
2. The opening musical number was better than 90 percent of “Glee.”
As soon as the jet black boots and striped blue suit showed up on screen, we knew we were in for something special. To open the film, an always game Myers twisted and shouted with the best of them in an all-out musical extravaganza set to the signature “Austin Powers” theme.
The scene not only immediately communicated to the audience what kind of movie they were watching, but it also established Myers as a nimble performer who’d do just about anything to get a laugh. Note to all future filmmakers out there: starting a film with your hero leading a marching band through the streets of London isn’t a bad way to go.
3. Fembots are the greatest invention since the wheel.
Sexual politics aside (we know, that’s a big aside) fembots are an undeniable part of the “Austin Powers” legacy. With their “Valley of the Dolls” hair styling and an iconic entrance to Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made For Walking,” the fembots were the perfect hypersexualized match for the International Man of Mystery.
To make things more interesting, these bionic women aren’t taken down by fists or bullets. No, they’re simply overwhelmed by Powers’ raw sexuality when he strips down for dance in his British flag-patterned undies. And, for what it’s worth, they count Britney Spears as one of their own.
4. The catchphrases, C’MON.
What’s the last line from a movie you’re able to recite off the top of your head? Whether you chalk it up to the influence of foreign markets or lazy writing, gone are the days of memorable movie quotes.
But “Austin Powers” had it’s own ’60s-inspired lexicon, not to mention the stream of hilarious one-liners that came out of Dr. Evil’s mouth. Phrases like “Yeah, baby,” “Do I make you horny” and “Oh behave” have become part of the cultural zeitgeist for better or worse.
5. Name a more iconic Hollywood animal than Mr. Bigglesworth.
6. “But dad, we just had a breakthrough in group.”
Seth Green is the unsung hero of the “Austin Powers” franchise if only for playing his scenes as Dr. Evil’s son, Scott, completely straight in a movie that rarely has a sincere moment in its one hour and 34 minute running time.
“All of my thoughts in respect to this character were to play it deeply sincere,” Seth Green recently told The Hollywood Reporter. “I thought that would be funniest next to Mike’s broad character. If you look at me in the movie, I am in a drama.”
7. You forgot Carrie Fisher was in this, didn’t you?
Carrie Fisher popped up in a handful of bit parts throughout the ‘90s, but none more memorable than the therapist for a group for troubled fathers and sons. Her scene only lasts minutes but Fisher was a riot, interpreting Dr. Evil and son Scott’s grandiose issues as metaphors for everyday struggles.
Myers and Fisher were apparently friends at the time. He personally requested her for the part and sent the script over to her house. Of course, she was down. Myers described Fisher as incredibly supportive of his vision on set, saying she loved “how weird the choices are.”
8. Elizabeth Hurley’s head-to-toe iconic looks.
The leather catsuit. The futuristic metallic number Judy Jetson wishes she had in her closet. The lacey nighty. The cutoff white turtleneck. Honestly, even the yellow dress in a plastic bag marked yellow dress. Before “Austin Powers” hit theaters, Elizabeth Hurley was already well-known for her bold fashion choices (she made safety pins a thing long before they were a political statement, OK?) and everything she wore in the movie was pure heaven.
9. No one does sight gags like “Austin Powers” anymore.
This is a safe space, so let’s all admit that one time or another we tried to impress someone with the “I’ll take the stairs” bit behind your living room couch.
Myers has always been a gifted physical comedian and his talents are put to use here. Be it the expert staging of his nude scenes as Hurley treats herself to some breakfast, the three-point turn gone awry, or his post-cryogenic chamber urination, sometimes scenes with little dialogue were still the most memorable.
10. Literally anything Frau Farbissina says.
”SEND IN THE GUAAAAAARDSSSS!”
Hit Backspace for a regular dose of pop culture nostalgia.