5 scenes from Austin Powers that I totally misunderstood as a kid
It was New Year’s Eve 2003 and I was bopping around my parents’ basement in a gold lame tube top and faded corduroy flares, fondue stick in hand. My dad was on the couch in a full-on Dr. Evil costume—complete with a bald cap—regularly doing his best impression with lines like, “How ‘bout no?” or “I shall call him Mini Me.”
In case you were wondering, yes, my family had an Austin Powers-themed party to celebrate New Year’s Eve and the recently released third installment of the Austin Powers series, Goldmember.
I grew up with Austin Powers. When my dad got a new car in the early noughties with the “high-tech” ability to leave voice recordings in the stereo, my dad populated it with recordings of his best Scottish accent and Fat Bastard quotes. It’s hard to say if I really loved the Austin Powers movies, or if I grew to love them because someone in my family (mostly my dad) was always watching them—but now I associate the films with good memories.
One thing is for sure, though: I definitely did not understand a good portion of the jokes within the Austin Powers universe until many, many years later.
Now a 24-year-old woman, I went back and watched 1999’s Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (the one I watched the most as a kid) and took note of the jokes that went right over my head in my childhood—plus major plot lines that I totally misconstrued until recently.
1I thought Austin’s “mojo” was his dick
This may sound ridiculous to someone who didn’t watch this movie at the age of 5, but hear me out. When Fat Bastard “stole” Austin Powers’ “mojo” from his cryogenically frozen body, I totally thought he was chopping off his dick and taking it with him. What really is a mojo? It’s so random to begin with that it’s not like my parents could really explain it to me if I had asked them. Plus, in the aforementioned scene with Fat Bastard, the tool he uses to take his “mojo” is aimed exactly at Austin’s crotch; the bottle in which Dr. Evil stores his “mojo” is shaped like a penis, too.
For my final argument, I’ll casually remind you that Austin realizes his mojo is lost while in bed with one woman (Ivanka Humpalot, naturally), and avoids getting into bed with another (Felicity) because of his lost mojo. I guess it doesn’t really make sense that I thought his dick was stolen, but does mojo really make any more sense?
2I missed Elizabeth Hurley’s iconic zinger in the opening scene
The opening scene of this Austin Powers film always pissed me off. How were they going to try to convince me, the pre-pubescent audience, that Vanessa was an evil fembot when she literally helped Austin save the world in the last movie? I’m sure my parents explained to me that it was a lazy tactic that movies employed when certain actors didn’t want to do a sequel, but I never got over it—until now.
When Vanessa’s boobs sprout machine gun nipples, Austin says, “How did I miss those, baby?” Vanessa’s iconic response (said in a robotic tone) is: “You should try foreplay.”
Now that I’m old enough and wise enough to understand this sick burn, I’m cool with the irrational way Elizabeth Hurley was written out of the second movie.
3I didn’t realize that Austin Powers and Dr. Evil were ridiculously dumb (and that the leading ladies generally saved the day)
I’m pretty certain that in my early years of watching Austin Powers, I had no idea the series was made to parody James Bond films. To be fair, I had never seen James Bond films and had no idea what a “real” secret agent movie was supposed to look like. Sure, I knew the films were supposed to be funny, but I didn’t realize just how stupid both Austin Powers and Dr. Evil are until I revisited the movies recently.
There’s literally a scene in which Austin is playing chess against a model-turned-assassin and he legit just skips his pieces around the board like a three-year-old with no knowledge of the game. Similarly, Dr. Evil regularly tells his henchmen to shut up when they’re actually giving him valuable information that would help him not look like such a damn fool.
As a grown-up (and as a feminist who tries her best to stay woke), I realized that Austin’s leading lady of the film is generally (or always) the one who actually does the work necessary to thwart Dr. Evil’s plans. More often than not, she actually convinces Austin to drop his dumb plan and go with her far superior plan instead.
4I had no idea that Scott Evil was the love child of Dr. Evil and Frau
If you tell a second grader that you’re late, a second grader is going to think that you’re running late for an appointment or a meeting or whatever. That second grader is not going to understand that you mean your period is late, and therefore you’re probably pregnant with Dr. Evil’s child.
This movie does not actually show Dr. Evil and Frau having sex, and Frau never explicitly tells Dr. Evil she’s pregnant. Instead, she says, “I’m late” by the coffee machine in the “office” one day. When she says this, even Dr. Evil is confused. He responds, “No, you got here right on time.” She repeats herself, he starts to comprehend, and then Scott Evil coincidentally rolls through via the time machine portal. (Clearly, this scene was not made for a elementary school audience.)
5I missed the fact that Heather Graham’s character had to sleep with Fat Bastard—not to mention his super creepy lines in bed
Like the aforementioned scene with Dr. Evil and Frau, the scene with Felicity (Heather Graham’s character) and Fat Bastard does not explicitly show them having sex or even kissing each other. Obviously, as a kid, I wouldn’t have necessarily known what sex looked like—but I would need to see at least some kissing to get the idea of what was going down. When Felicity is shown half-naked in bed with Fat Bastard while he eats fried chicken, I took it at face value and assumed that’s all they were doing.
In fact, I distinctly remember thinking that the reason he didn’t notice her sticking the tracking device up his butt was because he was so fat he couldn’t feel it (clearly, I had some things to learn about anatomy at this point in my life). Another thing that I missed until re-watching the movie last week? After she inserts the tracking device and Fat Bastard says, “Frisky, are we?” he actually rolls over on top of her and says, “Give it up!”
Something tells me a line like that would not slip by unnoticed in this day and age—and for good reason.