Tag Archives: Guy in a Bear Suit

Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999)

Theater PosterRated: PG-13
Duration: 1h 35min
IMDB Genre Listing: Action, Adventure, Comedy
Released (USA): June 11, 1999
BIYF Year: 1999 (BIYF II)

Director: Jay Roach
Producers: Numerous
Writers: Mike Myers, Michael McCullers
Music: George S. Clinton
Starring: Mike Myers, Heather Graham, Michael York, Robert Wagner, Rob Lowe, Seth Green, Mindy Sterling, Verne Troyer, Charles Napier, Clint Howard

IMBD Description: Dr. Evil is back… and has invented a new time machine that allows him to go back to the 60’s and steal Austin Powers’s mojo, inadvertently leaving him “shagless.”

Roger Ebert | Empire | NY Times

In addition to the idea of a road trip, BIYF 1999 also introduced another new semi-regular occurrence to our annual gathering: heading out to a local movie theater to take in a first-run showing of a film as a group in addition to our home viewing experience. Occasionally we’ve done this more than once per weekend and the choice of day has varied from BIYF Friday through BIYF Sunday, but gradually we’ve settled into attending only one (if any) “away” film per BIYF and we usually go on Friday or Sunday in order to leave Saturday free for our more challenging viewing. Also, availability of sober drivers on BIYF Saturday has been a concern.

Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me

If I’m not mistaken, I believe in 1999 we actually left the safety and security of the Vincent Avenue BIYF HQ on Saturday to attend Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. This may have had something to do with an indifferent group reaction to the slate of films selected via BIYF Movie Voting (more on that in an upcoming post) or perhaps alcohol influenced the decision. We may never know (or remember) for certain.

I was a little worried about this one.
“But why would you be worried about re-watching this film?” you ask…

I have to admit to approaching this one with a certain amount of dread as it came time to re-watch it for this post. Trendy comedies sometimes age poorly and I had a vague time-and-beer-addled memory of being disappointed with this film the first time around. Plus, in hindsight its selection seemed like a “target of opportunity” (it was actually in theaters and we agreed enough about it to all go) and I feared it might not really be what we’ve come to think of as a “BIYF Movie” (or at least a “Movie with Themes Appropriate to BIYF”). To be fair, the latter fear is probably something that will apply to all of our “away” films since we can only choose from what’s available in theaters at the time.

Thankfully it's all groovy, baby.
Thankfully there’s not much to worry about. Party On!

I also have to admit that my trepidation was largely unfounded on both counts. I had fun re-watching it. It’s still a goofy, often juvenile, comedy and if you don’t enjoy those you won’t enjoy it, but there’s some heart in it and it has some genuinely funny moments. It’s far from perfect, but spot-on casting, nostalgia targeting some of our BIYF sweet spots, and some surprising connections to modern entertainment made this one of our viewing selections that was worth my time to revisit.

He’s groovy, baby! As long as he doesn’t wear out his welcome.

I think my past disappointment with this film can largely be traced to two things. I would dub the first of these Austin Powers Fatigue. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me came a brief two years after the first Austin Powers film and during those years the character and his catchphrases were ubiquitous to say the least. While Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me is fun, it is not – by its very nature as a sequel – particularly original. It hits most of the gags, catchphrases, and notes from the first film again and I think in the context of 1999 a lot of those came off as pretty flat. We’d just seen them in the first film and then they’d clubbed us repeatedly with them in the interim. Given a fifteen-plus-year break where I don’t think I’ve even seen a repeat of these films, the reused gags manage to feel original again and I think the whole film probably works better than it did at the time.

The second thing is named Fat Bastard.

Fat Bastard
Despite “Get in mah bellay!” working its way into the lexicon of phrases that continue to get reflexively spouted in conversation, Fat Bastard is still my least favorite AP creation.

All of the humor involving Fat Bastard (even tangentially) is based around disgust and revulsion. Gross-out humor. While I won’t criticize those that enjoy this, I feel like even by 1999 I had moved out of the phase where this did much for me. I don’t extract much enjoyment from the kind of discomfort it induces and extended scenes that focus on drawing out the pain of it lose me pretty quickly. That said, when I’m not burned out by the fatigue described above (and I wasn’t this time around) there doesn’t seem to be nearly as much as I remembered and it passes pretty quickly. Fat Bastard is still there, but he no longer sinks the film for me.

And that’s great because there’s a lot to enjoy. The actors (both new additions and characters from the first film) and cameos in the film are fantastic. The cast includes some BIYF favorites: a returning Michael York (making him our first repeat actor) and long-time character actor Charles Napier (we’ll see him again). Heather Graham is a good new “Powers” girl and names like Will Ferrell, Tim Robbins, Clint Howard, and many more shine in bit and cameo appearances. Special mention must be made of Rob Lowe as the young Number Two. I think he’s my favorite thing in this film and he should always play Robert Wagner. It’s a Josh-Brolin-playing-Tommy-Lee-Jones-worthy performance.

Enjoyable performances.
Michael York, Heather Graham, Will Ferrell, Tim Robbins, Charles Napier, Clint Howard, and Rob Lowe are only a few of the many faces I enjoyed seeing in “The Spy Who Shagged Me.”

Also on the MVP list is Verne Troyer debuting as Mini-Me. It’s a role that could have gone horribly wrong but it’s played with such feral zeal that it works marvelously.

No. No, we don't gnaw on our kitty...
No. No, we don’t gnaw on our kitty…

Whether he’s mirroring Dr. Evil, threatening Scott Evil, or getting chased off the conference table with a squirt bottle like a cat, he makes it work.

Off the table, Mini-Me.
Off the table, Mini-Me.

In case it isn’t obvious by this point, this isn’t going to be a true BIYF film. It doesn’t attempt to be anything more than it is and it succeeds in being an enjoyable and technically competent film. It’s funny, but not unintentionally. It aims to be entertaining and I was entertained.

Surprisingly though, it really does manage to be much more of a BIYF-friendly selection than my admittedly faulty memory thought it might be. If I had to label it, I’d probably class this as another “palate cleanser.” It fits a lot of the trappings of a BIYF film, but not the requisite failures. Some examples of BIYF-y traits:

In Like Flint
The Austin Powers films rely heavily on nostalgia for an era that has turned out to be right in our BIYF wheelhouse: The ’60s of films like “Danger: Diabolik!” and “Barbarella.” It even goes so far as to blatantly spell it out by including a short clip from “In Like Flint” which might conceivably make it on the BIYF Viewing list someday.
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...
1999 was probably the height of “Star Wars” prequel mania (i.e. before everyone actually saw them) and this film didn’t pass up the opportunity to exploit that. The opening crawl evokes not only the good films, but also the BIYF-yness of the later ones.
Astronauts, spaceships, moon bases, lasers, rockets… They’re all hallmarks of some BIYF-worthy films and found here as well.
BIYF loves robots and “The Spy Who Shagged Me” doesn’t disappoint here either.
Guy in a bear suit?
Well, it’s not quite a guy in a bear suit, but it’s a chest toupee that evokes other hirsute BIYF film leading men…
There’s not nearly as many as in “Zardoz,” but there’s no lack of guns, either. And when guns fail us, there are swords as well!
Just don’t ask him three times to stop…
It’s not a requirement for a BIYF film, but ample cheesecake tends to show up anyway. Again, AP doesn’t disappoint. Groovy, baby!
Austin’s leading lady gets multiple changes of wardrobe throughout the film including this number that harkens back to Barbarella’s fashion sense.
Musical Performances!
Musicals and musical numbers have had a surprising frequency over the years in BIYF films and this film gives us three with its opening credits dance/water ballet number, a Dr. Evil/Mini-Me feature, and a performance by Burt Bacharach and Elvis Costello.
This film also contains beer. Well, only two gags… but still, beer. Beer!
It’s a giant, stone head. Do I need to spell this one out?

Perhaps even more surprising is the number of times during this re-watch I was reminded of things that occurred in other films/shows. That wouldn’t be shocking except these films/shows were all produced post-1999. Was Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me an influence? Was it coincidence? Are they both just mining the same source material for inspiration? You make the call:

What's on that monitor?
Early in the film, a military man covertly switches a monitor over to Jerry Springer when no one’s looking. It’s a good thing Tony Stark isn’t visiting or he’d be busted right away. Who’d have thought Austin Powers and “The Avengers” might share any DNA?
Seven years to end your Evil ways?
It’s probably just me, but Number Two’s description of how they’re going to make more money than ever with their legitimate Starbuck’s business sounds a lot like the seven-year end-slavery-go-legit-make-money plan Tyrion suggests to the slavers funding the Sons of the Harpy in GoT, Season 6.
It's a shitty way to go.
But, it does seem like Tyrion might have listened to Scott Evil: “If you have a time machine, why not just go back and kill Austin Powers when he’s sittin’ on the crapper or something?”
I call it a "Time Machine."
Sure, they might both be stealing it from a common source, but Dr. Evil and Aku from “Samurai Jack” seem to have shared their time travel technology…
That'll leave a mark.
It might just be all about the eye-line, but Mini-Me and Eugene from the most recent season of “The Walking Dead” (and also from the source comic of TWD) seem to have developed a similar offensive strategy.
Zip it.
He might be a terrifying Ravager, but Yondu from “Guardians of the Galaxy” is clearly doing his best Dr. Evil “Zip It” routine during his interrogation of the Broker when searching for Peter Quill.

OK, I might be stretching a bit to make a few of these connections. Not the Yondu one I suspect, but maybe some of the other ones. Maybe.

Regardless, this has been a fun side-trip on my journey and I’m ready to drive off of the cliff and head back into BIYF-proper territory. Let me know your thoughts on this selection, on BIYF “away” viewing in general, or on anything relevant in the comments. BIYF 1999 continues soon…

Maybe call for an ambulance?
“Hello, up there! Is the blog post over? I’m still down here and in quite a lot of pain!”

Barbarella (1968)

Theater PosterRated: PG
Duration: 1h 38min
IMDB Genre Listing: Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy
Released (USA): October 10, 1968
BIYF Year: 1998 (BIYF I)

Director: Roger Vadim
Producer: Dino De Laurentiis
Writer: Terry Southern, Roger Vadim
Music: Charles Fox
Starring: Jane Fonda, John Phillip Law, Anita Pallenberg, Marcel Marceau, Ugo Tognazzi

IMDB Description: In the far future, a highly sexual woman is assigned with finding and stopping the evil Durand-Durand. Along the way, she encounters various unusual people.

NY Times | Black Hole | 366 Weird Movies

Yep, pan and scan.
An actual image of “Barbarella” (on VHS) playing on Bricker and Malla’s classic cathode ray tube TV during the first “Beer Is Your Friend” weekend in 1998.

I could take a moment here to comment on Barbarella‘s place in BIYF History. Perhaps I would talk about its spot as a foundational brick in the BIYF Viewing temple. (See previous post for “BIYF Historical” context. -Editor)

I could use this space to write about how this film also fits into the three criteria that my theoretical construct of what makes a “successful” BIYF film proposes. How it overreaches some high ambitions of trying to mash-up a dozen different, disparate genres. How, while undoubtably camp, it is played very, very straight – taking its camp very seriously. How, despite critics and commercial failure, people keep trying to make the next, new Barbarella but are unable to capture the charm or essence of the ways the original managed to succeed. (See previous post for “Successful BIYF Film” context and reviews linked near the top of this post for critique & Barbarella-specific information. -Editor)

I could spend this post trying to talk about the context of Barbarella in the history of film, even feminist film, or please Sandman by taking a contrary, off-topic stance and blasting Hanoi Jane for her actions unrelated to this film. (See contextual links above. -Editor)

I could do any and all of these things, but let’s face it: We’re really just here for the fashion, aren’t we?

Outfit #1
Perhaps everyone’s least favorite Barbarella outfit, the full-body spacesuit.
Nude Interlude #1
After removing the spacesuit, Barbarella spends some time between outfits while she takes a call. Hey buddy, those aren’t her eyes.
Outfit #2
Good for piloting and crashing your spaceship as well as crawling around in deep shag carpeting and sleeping on a clear vinyl sheet, Barbarella’s next outfit makes time fly by in style aboard the Alpha 7. Why yes, those ARE peekaboo panels in the top for all your cheesecake needs!
Outfit #3
Whether it’s taking on creepy sets of wig-wearing twins, blue bunnies, killer dolls, or hirsute rescuers, this outfit has you covered. Until the dolls shred it with their shrike-like metal teeth.
Nude Interlude #2
After ditching the remnants of her last outfit and learning how to do things the old-fashioned way with a guy in a bear suit, Barbarella pauses to stretch and bask in the moment au naturel aboard his transport.
Outfit #4
When her rescuer tells her to choose an outfit from his collection of furs, Barbarella selects this fetching number that should have Pepé Le Pew chasing after her in no time.
Outfit #5
After getting her tail repeatedly stuck in things and literally screwing her ship into the planet, Barbarella picks out this outfit for exploring the labyrinth near the city of Sogo and making friends with its inhabitants.
Nude Interlude #3
I’m not sure what happened to the last outfit, but it’s MIA after Barbarella gives Pygar the blind angel the will to fly again.
Outfit #6
For her assault on Sogo, home of the evil Great Tyrant, Barbarella selects this versatile combination. Whether it’s a flying dogfight while being carried in the arms of an angel, navigating a local hive of scum and villainy, or being caged with and pecked by all of the parakeets money can rent, this ensemble will go the distance. Until it disintegrates.
Outfit #7
After meeting and engaging in modern, pill-based relations with Dildano, the leader of Sogo’s resistance, Barbarella dons an outfit he provides for a secret mission. Even a snazzy outfit with a couple peekaboo windows won’t hide you from Durand Durand, however.
Nude Interlude #4
That suit doesn’t stay on for long as it is soon stripped off by the Excessive Machine in a bit of mechanized foreplay. But Barbarella has the last moan when she proves excess is never enough.
Outfit #8
When Durand Durand’s Excessive Machine whimpers and bursts into flame, the crazed scientist thoughtfully provides Barbarella with her final outfit, presumably assembled from the remnants of clothing worn by the machine’s earlier victims. Versatile enough for a visit to the evil queen’s bedchamber or for witnessing the destruction of an evil realm, this flattering apparel will make you green with envy.

But Barbarella isn’t the only one with style in this film:

So pretty, pretty.
Whether undercover among her subjects or ruling with a deliciously evil and supple iron fist, the Great Tyrant refuses to be denied her pretty, pretty… couture.

And just in case you thought this film was only about the ladies, check out these slices of Grade A Beefcake:

That is not a bear.
Does this count as a Guy in a Bear Suit? I’m saying yes.
We'll meet again, JPL.
He’s heavenly!

OK, you got me. It’s all about the ladies and their fancy get-ups.

Even so, the film itself doesn’t spend a lot of time taking long, lingering shots that show the outfits full-length which makes it difficult to grab any really good screenshots of them. To rectify that, here’s a selection of publicity stills for you as a parting gift:

What’s your favorite outfit? Should I have actually written a review? Is this too much cheesecake? Is that possible? Should I have spent some time talking about that deleted scene? You know the one. Well, I’m betting Rollerballer does, anyway. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.