Would anyone question the notion that I was a rambunctious and obsessive 9-year-old? Would it surprise you to hear I convinced my grandfather that 'Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me' was just a “silly spy movie, just like a funny James Bond”? Can you imagine 9-year-old me sitting in the cinema laughing his head off as his grandfather sits next to him horrified?! 20 years later, and this is still a staple story of family get-togethers about when I subjected him to "that stupid, rude movie."
9-year-old me had very little idea just how rude it was.
But back then, everything was “groovy baby!”
Set shortly after the events of the first film, Austin (Mike Myers) is enjoying his honeymoon only to find out that his wife Vanessa is actually a fembot! Not only this, but Dr Evil has returned and he’s developed a time machine to go back to steal Austin's mojo while he's still frozen in 1969 (teehee). Austin, with the help of Felicity Shagwell (Heather Graham), travels back in time to stop Dr Evil in his tracks!
It's crazy that this film, with a $33 million budget, made US$312 million at the box office worldwide. I guess it really helps when the same actor plays three of the main characters, with Myers reprising his role also as Dr Evil and also introducing Scottish assassin Fat Bastard. It’s this kind of on-the-nose humour that today would probably send the film straight to Netflix, but in 1999 it was a box office smash.
The film also introduced Madonna’s hit 'Beautiful Stranger', with Austin appearing in the film clip as well, and the song went on to win a Grammy. Interestingly enough, the soundtrack was certified Gold in Australia and Platinum in the United States. With good reason too! There are some great songs on this soundtrack, back in the day when soundtracks meant something! Aside from Madonna, there's 'American Woman' by Lenny Kravitz, 'I’ll never Fall in Love Again' By Burt Bacharach and Elvis Costello, and who can forget the formidable 'Soul Bossa Nova' by Quincey Jones, the veritable score of the turn of the millennium.
There were some big names in this film too - Rob Lowe, Seth Green, Verne Troyer, Will Ferrell, Jerry Springer and Willie Nelson to name just a few. It really makes you wonder what kind of favours were pulled in, or whether or not people were there for fun. If I were Willie Nelson, I too would except a role just to make another dick joke.
"That looks like a huge…"
"Willie! Willie Nelson is that you?"
Oh, the 90s. What a time to be alive!
The lasting cultural impact of the 'Austin Powers' franchise is a force to be reckoned with.
The lasting cultural impact of the 'Austin Powers' franchise was a force to be reckoned with back when the films were released. “Oh behave!” and “Do I make you horny, baby?” were catchphrases that permeated the social consciousness, even with viewers who had no concept of what these words even meant. Such a cultural phenomenon that my Year 6 leaving school performance was to Quincey Jones’ theme. Yes, you read that correctly, 12-year-olds were dancing and pretending to be somewhat of a sex deviant Austin Powers, go-go dancers and thigh-high boots included.
For me though, I feel like 'Austin Powers' was the beginning of my naughty streak. I have always loved an entendre, and to this day still have a (questionable) ability to create them, living my life with my tongue firmly in cheek. I still find myself thinking things are groovy, and I’d like to think the cultural phenomenon of everyone calling each other "babes" and "bae" is just a language degeneration from the “baby” Austin called everyone in the films. It’s probably best not to think too hard about this though - or to watch it with your somewhat conservative grandparents, for that matter.