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KIDS ON FILM

Easy to Follow the Thread of 'Austin'

May 15, 1997|MARK CHALON SMITH | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

MISSION VIEJO — In "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery," Mike Myers plays a James Bond-like super agent from the psychedelic '60s who spends 30 years in deep freeze before thawing out in the '90s to battle his nemesis, Dr. Evil. (Rated PG-13)

Some kids look on the 1960s as one long Halloween party. Forget the social protests, the Vietnam War and other signatures of the era. What stands out are all the wacky clothes.

After seeing "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery," one group of teens most wanted to talk about one thing: the duds. Crazy bell-bottoms, goofy tie-dyed shirts, silly ruffled collars and Beatles boots. Like, far out, man.

"It was so strange, what [Myers] was wearing," said Kimberly Reiser, 14, of Laguna Beach. "He looked like such a geek."

Austin Powers, of course, wouldn't see it that way. As he might say, he looked perfectly shag-adelic, baby! Jenni Roberts, 13 and also from Laguna Beach, likewise didn't think he looked like a geek at all.

Jenni, who is very into retro fashions, all but squealed when considering the clothes Powers and several of his '60s girlfriends wore through much of the movie.

"I would kill to have some of them," she said. "That stuff, all the vintage stuff, is so expensive now."

Many youngsters thought the picture was also very cool, a consistently hilarious sendup of spy movies and a time that they can only imagine. Or hear about from their nostalgic parents.

Jenni said that Myers is one of her favorite comics. She saw him in the "Wayne's World" movies and was eager to see him do his thing in "Austin Powers."

"He's great, the way he talked with that stupid [English] accent," she said. "I've even seen him on [reruns of] 'Saturday Night Live' and thought he was funny then, too."

While few kids disliked "Austin Powers," some refused to give it unconditional praise. They complained that many of the jokes are corny or overdone, and there really isn't much to the plot.

Seth Hansen, a 12-year-old from Mission Viejo, said a series of sight gags involving male and female body parts was pure cinematic genius. But he also felt that all the jokes surrounding Dr. Evil (also played by Myers) were stale.

"That guy was stupid," Seth said. "They should have had a better villain." There were no complaints, however, with Elizabeth Hurley as Powers' spy partner and eventual girlfriend. She ranked high with the guys and came across as a lot of fun to the girls.

"She was so hot," said Jack Limon, 15, of Laguna Niguel. "Especially when they went to Las Vegas [and] she got to wear the hot dresses."

"Yeah, he's right," said his smiling girlfriend, Sarah Herrera, also 15 and from Laguna Niguel. "She was pretty hot. . . . It was a pretty hot movie."

Sarah did think that all the genital jokes got old after a time. Austin's use of sausages, fruit and whatever else he could come up with to suggest penises and breasts struck her as rude.

"That bored me," she said.

On that point, parents should keep in mind that sexual innuendo is rampant in "Austin Powers" and might confuse young children. Still, it's no more explicit than anything in "Beavis and Butt-head."

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