Thursday, 17 May 2018

Austin Powers: The Spy who shagged me (4½ Stars)

I admit it. The main reason why I decided to watch the Austin Powers trilogy this week is to remember Verne Troyer, the actor who played Mini-Me and died last month. The exact cause of his death isn't clear. Early reports claimed that it was suicide, but the official cause of death has been recorded as alcohol poisoning. The truth is probably a mixture of the two.

Some epitaphs written online say that it's wrong to concentrate on his size, he should just be judged as a man. I understand what they're saying, but it's impossible to write about him without mentioning his size. At 2'8" (81 cm) he was the world's smallest actor. Peter Dinklage (4'5", 135 cm) is a giant in comparison. Verne Troyer's height is what he'll be remembered for. That's an undeniable fact. But we should also remember him as a good actor. After seeing him at his audition Mike Myers was so impressed with Verne's acting ability that he rewrote the script to give him more screen time. How many actors can say that about themselves?

The first film takes place in the 1990's (1997), while the second film takes place in the 1960's (1969). Dr. Evil has invented a time machine, with which he travels back in time to steal Austin Powers' mojo while he was frozen. This mojo is the essence that makes Austin what he is, including his charm, his sexual prowess and his skill as a secret agent. Austin Powers travels back in time using a Back-To-The-Future-ish car to challenge Dr. Evil. He's at a disadvantage because he's already lost his mojo, but he receives assistance from Agent Felicity Shagwell, a swinging, free-loving sixties girl who is the exact female equivalent of Austin himself.

In the first film Mike Myers played two characters, Austin Powers and Dr. Evil. In this film he also plays the evil henchman Fat Bastard. Yes, that's his name. Yes, that's really Mike Myers. He's hardly recognisable under all that make up, body padding and whatever else was used to disguise him.

Because Dr. Evil's son Scott wasn't evil enough to be the successor to the Evil Empire a clone has been made from Dr. Evil's DNA. The clone is Mini-Me, played by Verne Troyer, identical in every respect except for his size. Dr. Evil immediately appoints him his successor. This annoys Scott, who now wants to try to be more evil, but it's too late.

I made a mistake in my last review of "The Spy who shagged me". I claimed that it was a blunder that Mustafa and Number Two magically reappeared after being killed in the first film. I should pay more attention. Mustafa was killed in 1997, so it's not a mistake to see him in 1969. It all makes sense. As for Number Two, he's thrown into a fire pit in the first film, but we never see him die. When he returns in this film he has burn marks on his cheek, so we can assume that he was somehow rescued from the pit. He might have burn marks in other places that his fine suits hide from sight.

Overall the film is just as good as "International Man of Mystery", but I have a few small problems with it. I find the humour with the Fat Bastard character unnecessarily vulgar. I also find it strange the way Elisabeth Hurley's character is removed from the film by the revelation that she was always a fembot. If you watch the first film you can see that this was impossible.

Verne Troyer
January 1, 1969 – April 21, 2018

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