June 11, 2008

Whatever Happened To: Mike Myers?

I loved Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. In fact, let's stick with present tense. I still love it. It was stupid, bold, at times clever and almost always original. Sure, it wasn't (and still isn't) a classic comedy for the ages, but it was innocent, inane fun for Americans in the happy-go-lucky late 90's.

Mike Myers hadn't been heard from in four years leading up to it, which was bizarre since we'd all grown so close to him on SNL. After Wayne's World and Wayne's World 2 (speaking of which - whatever happened to Dana Carvey?), Myers went from the indie favorite So I Married an Ax Murderer in 1993 to the international favorite Austin Powers in 1997. The next year, he played his most impressive role to date as Steve Rubell in the now all-but-forgotten 54, and it appeared, at least for a short period, that Mike Myers was on the way to a long and diverse career.

Then, all of a sudden, we had way too much of a good thing, and Myers became, well, I don't want to say lazy, but...I struggled through Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me and absolutely suffered through Austin Powers in Goldmember. Shrek was a fun animated film and, dare I say, it even deserved to win the first ever Oscar for Best Animated Feature over its Pixar-produced competition, Monsters, Inc. Fine. But Shrek 2, Shrek the Third, now Shrek Goes Fourth (and who knows how many more)? Turns out that in the last 11 years, Mike Myers has had only two leading live-action film roles: Austin Powers and The Cat in the Hat. How is that possible?

I remember reading this New York Times article ("Mike Myers: Intentional Man of Mystery") a year and a half ago, which proved that I wasn't the only one wondering where Myers was. The article suggested that he was uber-picky about choosing roles but mentioned that a "comedy about a relationship guru" was one of the projects Myers had been working on. This, we now know, was The Love Guru, opening next Friday. Myers' agent in the article: “He’s a love guru. He’s somebody who’s become an expert on relationships. That’s what leads me to think that if it works, it can be a franchise. The guru can be thrust into all kinds of situations in that regard.” Sigh. Another franchise, huh?

Mike, some advice: ditch your agent. The guru is near and dear to your heart and you have an incredible marketing push behind it. I get that. But seriously, something's not clicking with The Love Guru.

I can chuckle at those pictures at first glance, and I've tried to find some laughs on the YouTube channel and the Pitka's Book Club and the guru e-cards, but it's not really working (I don't even get it - what are you doing with Peyton Manning?) Ben Kingsley's appearance in The Love Guru trailer briefly piqued my interest, but if I want to see him in a movie this summer, I'll watch him in The Wackness.

Next year, Myers will be bringing us The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (a remake of the 1947 version starring Danny Kaye), which interests me for really no other reason than the fact that Mike Myers is not going to be wearing a ridiculous costume for the first time in a long time.

But seriously, Mike - you realize you have a lot more potential than all of this...right? We just haven't seen it fulfilled in over a decade.


  1. I don't know what happened to Mike Myers' career, but I do know that Dana Carvey almost died and has had continuing health problems.

    " In 1997, he underwent open-heart surgery for a blocked artery. Unfortunately, the doctors operated on the wrong artery. Carvey later sued for medical malpractice and was awarded $7.5 million. He has had to undergo a total of five medical procedures (four angioplasties and one surgery) to correct his heart problems. Carvey stated in an interview with Larry King that he donated all the money awarded to him from the lawsuit to charity. In 2002, he returned to the silver screen in the comedy Master of Disguise, which was panned by critics but managed about $40 million at the North American box office.

    "A very private person, Carvey withdrew from the limelight to focus on his family. He later said in an interview that he doesn't want to be in a career in which his kids would already be grown with him having neglected time with them." (Wikipedia)

  2. I agree with every single word of your post, Daniel.

    The first AP is too funny for words, but I wanted to slit my wrists during the next two. The first Shrek was enjoyable enough, but not enough to warrant me spending money or, more importantly, time to check out the other two. And "Cat in the Hat"-WTF?

    I miss 90s Mike. Maybe he just doesn't fit into this new world, that seems even more dumbed down than it used to be, so he agrees to "Love Guru" for the paycheck. Well at least he doesn't have 3 movies like that coming out every year like Will Ferrell. There's always an upside.

  3. If iss not Scottish, iss craap!

    Ax Murderer may not ever be remembered as his best, but it's a fun movie with a bunch of great lines. Even a Phil Hartman sighting. :tear:

    Hey, at least we haven't been overexposed to him lately. But I do agree that there's a lot of untapped potential there.

  4. Woman, Wo-man, WHOOAAA...MAN!!

    Ditto on Axe Murderer.

    And I don't know what it is... I also just can't find the funny in Love Guru. It just seems tired.

    The whole thing makes me sad.

  5. I was kind of wondering the same thing especially since "The Love Guru" looks so incredibly awful.

    I mean, really, what happened??

  6. I'm wondering the same thing, and I'm glad you mentioned his performance in "54." He showed some promise of being a seriously good actor in that film, and that promise has never been fulfilled. "The Love Guru" looks godawful to me.

  7. Ah, I'm at a conference all day and come back to find my question validated. I thought somebody might call me out for questioning a career that's actually not over in any definitive sense. I just think The Love Guru isn't necessarily the best way to come back to the live-action world.

    Right, I did find that out recently, Marilyn. Carvey was a pretty talented sketch character, and I believe he was somewhat coaxed into doing Master of Disguise to show people he was OK. Too bad it was mostly forgotten. I guess he's coming back with a TV show, now...

    Rachel, in my opinion the Shrek movies lose their flavor and freshness with each new installment. The second and third ones had different writers than the first, and now the fourth will have an even different scribe (Myers hasn't written any of them). Anyway, what concerns me is that Myers didn't just "agree" do to Guru, but he's actually been working on it for years (according to that article). This is his big personal project. We'll see what happens in terms of sequels.

    Fletch, wow, Phil Hartman - moment of silence, please...thank you...

    "It just seems tired." You mean exploiting Verne Troyer again, Nayana? Or Myers doing sex jokes with a weird accent? Or the ridiculous pop star cameos (Beyonce in Goldmember, Timberlake in Guru)? I know, and I agree, Matthew, that Guru just looks like a disappointment from start to finish.

    Pat, how and why he followed up 54 with Pete's Meteor (I'd never heard of it) is one of the great unsolved mysteries of the 90's.

  8. Considering how much Myers has entertained over the years...I loved him on SNL and I liked the first Wayne's World and Austin Powers movies...you'd think I'd be able to give him the benefit of a doubt despite some of his many misses, but there's something about Guru that just leaves me dead cold.

    I can't even really put my finger on it, but yeah, it sounds like I'm in line with just about everyone here.

  9. I still would argue that the first Austin Powers is one of the 90's pure comedy classics. It's quite witty and actually has something to say about the cultural divide. I think AP's final confrontation with Dr. Evil is rather poignant. And there's no shit jokes as in the awful sequels.

    I seroiusly thought Myers could be a new Woody Allen, or art least Peter Sellers, but he seems to choose the low road every time.

    I guess I'm the only one wanting a SPROCKETS movie...

  10. SPROCKETS!! How about the "Simon" sketches? Actually, I'm surprised a "Coffee Talk" movie never happened - or a Wayne's World 3, for that matter. Guess it was before EVERY MOVIE HAS TO HAVE MULTIPLE SEQUELS.

    Despite what sounds like a full-on boycott of Guru, Craig, I still will give him the benefit of the doubt for future roles. The guy can be funny - if he's serious about being funny...

  11. It's fair to say he was pretty traumatized by the sickness and death of his father back whenever that happened. Perhaps he'll bounce back.

    I'm not as big on Austin Powers as most people, though I liked it. As I just finished saying elsewhere, I liked OSS 117 better because it was period and the character took himself completely seriously.

    Though I haven't seen it in a million years, I think Wayne's World is my favorite Myers movie and one of the few successful examples of an SNL sketch making a movie that didn't suck.

    On the other hand, yeah, a Sprockets movie just might make me feel like a little gurrrrl.

  12. There was going to be a SPROCKETS movie. Myers wrote the script and it was briefly announced but then maybe the studio realized 20 people would get it. But HUGE in Germany.

  13. Ouch. I didn't know about his dad's passing.

    It's so tempting to compare OSS and Austin Powers, but they really have their own territory. OSS is a lot nicer to look at, and as you say, it tries a lot hard to stay serious/and or true to the original formula. Austin Powers is like an SNL sketch, and Myers doesn't really disappear into the role or anything. Speaking of sketches, it's true that Wayne's World was a lot better than Night at the Roxbury or Superstar, for example.

    I can't believe we were THAT close to a Sprockets movie. We might have missed the cultural window for that one, but I'd still show up.

  14. I love MM, but I don't think we'll ever get the 90's guy back. Just like I think that Sandler is off his rocker for making some of the crap he has made lately. But at least we have Wayne's World, Austin Powers 1, Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore to cherish forever!

  15. Thanks for the visit, Monkeyface, and welcome to LAMB!

    Well, I guess you're right - at least most of these SNL stars churned out some really solid movies before tanking.

  16. Dana Carvey is back doing stand up now, and I believe he has a special that has either already aired on HBO, or will air soon.

    As for Myers, I think he got trapped in a rut. Convinced that only he can write for himself, and that he must somehow repeat the groovy fun of the first Austin Powers movie, but without the work necessary to do it. That's why all you see in the Love Guru are cheap jokes about knocking around Vern Troyer, low-brow gags, and that stupid "change purse" line said by Stephen Colbert in all the ads.

    Dying is easy, comedy is hard.

  17. Well put, Furious D, and thanks for stopping by. I'm glad for Dana Carvey - especially coming out of health problems, hopefully his career can see a resurgence.

    Regarding Myers, yes, I agree that Guru appears to be lazy writing. It's just odd that he apparently sat on this character for years. Like he's been grooming and preparing it, and yet it looks like he just came up with it yesterday.

    Well, I haven't seen Guru, but I have yet to hear anything positive about it...

  18. Entertainment Weekly's recent article on Myers blames his absence from mainstream Hollywood on one person: Myers, himself.

    According to all the people interviewed, Myers is incredibly hard to work with because he insists on having everything his way. The article said that this goes back all the way to Axe Murderer, which I'll agree with everyone here, and say it's one of his best films.

    Side note, my friend recently saw Dana Carvey doing stand-up in San Jose, CA. Said he was really, really funny. I didn't know about the health problems but I hope he's doing better.

  19. Aha, so some more truthiness comes out. It's not hard to believe that he's controlling, but that still doesn't explain why he can't write good comedy anymore. Unless he's just hard-headed and won't listen when someone tells him that a movie about a love guru is a ridiculous idea.

    Good news about Carvey. I hope it's not just old impressions.

  20. The article said that after his dad died he went into a major depression and to get out of it became really spiritual, The Love Guru is sort of a result of that. Either way, I'm not seeing it.

  21. Alright, alright, so I can't hack into the story behind Guru now. Maybe I should read up and/or watch the movie first. Mmm...nah, I'll wait for his next one - and that will be a big maybe.


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