Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery – frozen in the swinging 60s, and thawed out in the 90s Austin “Danger” Powers has to defeat his nemesis Dr Evil while re-adjusting to modern life. Depressing fact: this film is almost 20 years old. Uplifting fact: it’s still as funny as you remember. Mike Meyers’ style isn’t for everyone, but this is about as mainstream as he goes; and the more James Bond knowledge you can bring to the table, the better (dispatch one-liners, henchmen deaths, sets, character names, elaborate death traps…). The clever setup means there’s a lot of rope to be used here: the spy genre, action movies, and fish-out-of-water elements, all fully capitalised. There’s quite a narrow band of humour used here: namely slapstick, funny faces, silly dances, and physical jokes – nothing too high-brow, but it’s all to the highest standard. If there’s one weakness it’s that the movie as a whole is a little too reliant on skits and unrelated interludes. With my James Bond obsession and nostalgic hat on, I’m probably not the most objective person to be watching this, but I would have genuine questions if someone didn’t enjoy such a light, charming, and loving parody of the early Bond Movies. Almost twenty years old, but still a stone-cold comedy classic, the first Austin Powers film is 95 minutes of laugh-out-loud, wall-to-wall top-drawer comedy.
If you can watch this clip without laughing (or even smiling) call a doctor – because you’re dead inside.
OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies – a send up of 50s/60s spy movies centered on a French secret agent, who travels to Cairo to find out who killed his colleague. The brightest star of this is 117, the dim-witted spy (based on the Connery era Bond) who’s played superbly as a likable idiot by Jean Dujardin. He pulls off all of the jokes, centered around the chauvinism, cultural stereotyping and stupidity of ‘classic’ spy films. The riffs about Islam feel a bit risqué given what’s happened in the 10 years since this was made, but like Mel Brooks or Zucker Brothers films, the jokes are too surreal and innocent to take too much offence from – like the running gags about veal stew, flashbacks, and noisy chickens. The entire film looks and feels authentically 1960s, with very basic camera movements, a lovely ‘technicolour’ palette, and retro effects; matched with cracking kitsch sets, props, and costumes. As a comedy, this is sold: I chortled constantly through the first hour, and although it runs a tad flatter in the last 30 mins or so, it’s still more than entertaining enough. No doubt this plays better to French people, who will catch a lot of the ‘throwaway’ stuff; but still, OSS 117 Cairo, Nest of Spies is a delight to watch, expertly pairing both silly and smart gags, making it a must-see for Bond and Spy fans; particularly of things like The Naked Gun, Austin Powers, Danger 5, Pink Panther, Top Secret!, etc, etc
Evil Dead: five friends go for a remote, relaxing break at a cabin in the woods… where they accidentally unleash an angry daemon. So I’ve seen this film about ten times, yet it still gives me the willies: from the outset there’s a lot of weird, floaty camera movement as it sweeps through the woods; something spooky or shifty happens about every 2 minutes; and you couldn’t have picked a more eerie set of locations: rickety house, basement, woods. The film’s packed with masterful moments of suspense, and the old school horror soundtrack gives it a timeless quality – screeching strings. There’s a few funny bits (and black humour thread throughout), but it’s definitely more horror than comedy. Whilst Bruce Campbell isn’t the best actor in the world, his presence is something else. The film builds towards a gore filed gory gore-fest of an ending – that will satisfy the hardest of horror fans. Essentially a B-movie, made on a shoestring budget; it has more than enough going on to totally distract you from the fact that it’s so cheap and brimming with continuity errors. The Evil Dead has more atmosphere, tension and impact than 20 empty, modern, derivative horror knockoffs. Proper horror cult classic.