Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me

Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999)
New Line Home Entertainment
Cast: Mike Myers, Heather Graham, Kristen Johnson, Verne Troyer
Extras: Audio Commentary, Deleted Scenes, Documentary and Trailers, Music Videos, Computer Game and much more

"Shagadelic", "Groovy" and "Smashing, Baby" were catch phrases you could find all over America this summer, ranging from giant billboards to commercials of all kind to print advertising. These phrases, as outdated as they may seem at first, have become the latest lingo when New Line started its advertising blitz for its biggest movie earlier this year, "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me". The film is a phenomenon that was – and still is – very hard to escape, not necessarily because of its omnipresence, but also because of its nostalgic charm. After its smashing success at the box office, New Line Home Video has been working long and hard on this Platinum Series DVD of "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me".

The film starts where "Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery" left off. Austin (Mike Myers) is busy with his luv Vanessa while Dr. Evil (Mike Myers) is recuperating to destroy Austin. He has devised a new plan and sets out to steal Austin Powers’ Mojo. With a time machine he travels back in time to the late 60s, when Austin was cryogenically frozen, hires a corrupt guard who has access to the cryo chamber and drains Austin’s Mojo.

The result is immediate. While Austin is shagging up with Ivana Humpalot (a scantily clad Kristen Johnson from "3rd Rock From The Sun"), he feels he can’t live up to it any more. Shattered by his failure, Austin sets out to find the origin of his sudden weakness, and learns that he has to face Dr. Evil once again. In a great homage to "Back To The Future", he too travels back in time, only to learn that Dr. Evil now has reinforcement. Through genetic experiments he has created Mini-Me (Verne Troyer), an identical clone of himself, only 1/8 his size.

With the help of Felicity Shagwell (Heather Graham), an American secret agent, Austin has to play all his cards right to get back his Mojo and to stop Dr. Evil from his evil plan to destroy the Earth for total World domination…

"Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me" boasts an incredible cast, including performances and cameos by a large number of well-known and respected actors and actresses. Apart from Mike Myers himself, who appears in a number of parts, especially Rob Lowe makes a lasting impression in his very own Robert Wagner/Number Two impersonation. But it is the entire cast that carries the film along smoothly, creating cool and truly outrageous characters that are fun to watch.

As I said above, Austin Powers is an incredible phenomenon New Line has on its hands. It started with a moderately successful movie in 1997 that got little attention at the box office but hit a note with those who watched it. Within days of its theatrical release it was obvious that comedy mastermind Mike Myers had created yet another cult character. After all, during his stint at Saturday Night Live for many years, Myers was responsible for some of the series most memorable characters, including Wayne Campbell from "Wayne’s World", or Dieter from "Sprockets" among others. With Austin Powers he managed to dig deep into our cultural conscience and bring to day some of the most nostalgic and romanticized feelings many of us may have about the colorful 60s. It was a time of liberation and the sexual revolution took place in Europe, while Easy Living was the soup du jour. At least, that’s how we remember it in our overly stylized memories, and Myers took these elements to create a character that is the anti-thesis of today’s personalities, to throw him into the 90s set of mind. Combined with a strong James Bond flair, the result is a first degree culture shock that lends itself to a plethora of comical moments, and to a rigorous exploitation of our own political correctness. Only after New Line released "Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery" on home video and DVD, it started to snowball and gather the kind of interest, the film deserved all along. It set the stage for the success of the film’s sequel that we see here on this fine DVD.

New Line has long been on the leading edge of DVD technology consistently releasing some of the finest looking discs into the market. Given such a new film, the expectations are naturally very high, and once again New Line proves that they know a hell of a lot about producing a great DVD. The video transfer on this disc presents the movie in its original 2.35:1 <$PS,widescreen> aspect ratio in an <$16x9,anamorphic> transfer that is practically picture-perfect. The transfer is absolutely clean without any visible film artifacts. There is literally no noise or grain evident anywhere in the film. Even under the most scrutinizing conditions have we been unable to detect noticeable flaws in the DVD’s presentation. The image is sharp but never over-enhanced, resulting in clear and well-defined edges that never bleed. In a small handful of very selected scenes contrasts are so high that signs of ringing are evident, but you will have to know exactly where to look, and even then it will be very hard to notice. Colors are smashingly powerful and perfectly rendered. Not a hint of noise, not a sign of over-saturation and not a bit of bleeding is evident in the transfer. Shadows are deep and solid, but always maintain a stunningly high level of detail. Highlights are bright, but always balanced and pleasing, creating an overall image quality that is quite staggering.

The same is essentially true for the disc’s audio presentation. The release is actually the first disc to contain a 6.1 channel <$THXEX,THX EX> <$DD,Dolby Digital> soundtrack, that is automatically decoded as a <$5.1,5.1 channel> mix on standard Dolby Digital receivers.

The soundtrack is phenomenally transparent and directional. It makes good use of the split surrounds – sometimes for effect purposes, sometimes to create a wider sound stage and sometimes to enhance the film’s ambience. Despite the film’s outrageous and somewhat frantic quality, surprisingly, the surround usage is hardly ever exaggerated however and always mixed in at a rather subtle level. Bass extension is also spectacular, especially during the more furious scenes, where your subwoofers will get to show off their muscles. Being a day & date release, "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me" expectedly contains only English subtitles.

The disc contains a <$commentary,commentary track> featuring Mike Myers, director Jay Roach and co-writer Michael McCullers. Although the <$commentary,commentary track> is not as funny as I had expected, it is enlightening throughout. Sharing production anecdotes, thoughts, hinting out special things in the film and talking extensively about their ideas and purposes, the commentary reveals a good number of facts about the movie and is development. Make sure to give it a try.

New Line’s Platinum Series releases have always been DVDs that really cater to fans of the according films. Never swamping viewers with information that is gratuitous or superfluous, this disc contains a good number of supplements that are all great additions. I would not want to miss any of them, starting with the 18 minutes of deleted scenes. While some of them really don’t work well, others are so funny that you wonder why they didn’t make it into the final film. Interestingly, even these deleted scenes are coming in an <$16x9,anamorphic> presentation.

The disc also contains a good "Behind-the-scenes" documentary that allows the cast to share their thoughts and memories with the viewers. It is very interesting to hear some of them discuss their interest in and stance on the film, and it is exceedingly interesting to see how Mike Myers himself looks at Austin Powers the second time around. Although the documentary does not reveal any groundbreaking things, it is a greatly entertaining roundup.

Three music videos and four trailers, round up the basic package of this disc. Digging a little deeper brings up a "hidden" special features page, dedicated to Dr. Evil, that gives you access to even more hilarious material. New Line has also been actively pursuing DVD-ROM content in the past, and it is hardly surprising that "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me" contains a few exciting and entertaining DVD-ROM features. First of all, it contains the complete Austin Powers website, "Groove Central" on the disc, which all by itself offers plenty of things to explore.

But also a trivia computer game is part of the disc’s ROM section. Actually, trivia game is the wrong term for it. For all of you who are familiar with Berkley Systems’ "You Don’t Know Jack" series of games, this is what you get – a riotous Austin Powers version of the game with plenty of questions related to the movie itself, as well as the entire Entertainment industry in general. Make sure to check it out, as this award winning game engine plays like a TV game show with lots of witty commentaries and multi-player capabilities. Given the shagadelic and addictive nature of this one, you will have serious trouble putting it down. A few interactive episodes can be found on the disc as well, that provides fun while your working on your computer, and a continuously updated cast & crew list is also part of the DVD-ROM section. Too bad some of the features are not accessible form Apple Macs, mostly because Apple still has not released a final working programming interface (API) to developers, so don’t blame New Line for this.

The "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me" DVD is everything I hoped it would be. The film is a great James Bond spoof with an inspiring sense of humor that is never shallow or cheap. Although very suggestive by nature, the humor and the film as a whole, is always very stylish and more importantly, tasteful.
Unlike many of the Saturday Night jokes that take cheap potshots at people or events, Austin Powers exhibits a much more sophisticated approach that works on many levels. Ultimately, it’s probably part of its success, and with this stellar DVD, New Line Home Video paves the way for a mighty groovy experience of the movie at home. This disc rocks – or should I say pops…