The Austin Powers movies are overloaded with jokes that managed to become mainstays of modern pop culture. There's one line in particular, however, that surprised Mike Myers in its popularity. Apparently he spent a long time wary of Dr. Evil's famous "One million dollars!" line, but was impressed by just how many people found it hilarious. He recently commented,
It is always a surprise which lines are people's favorite. The 'one million dollars' has been the one that is so satisfying because it is sort of a fragile joke. The fact that Dr. Evil has been frozen, he is out of date and a million dollars is not much money. It restores your faith in audiences. And it has really stayed in the culture.
Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year - having originally been released in 1997 - and The Hollywood Reporter has published a long oral history featuring interviews with Mike Myers, director Jay Roach, and more. During a discussion of the small-scale production and the number of things that had to be manipulated to work, Myers remarked that it was ultimately some of the small stuff that brought the most satisfaction - including the exchange where it's revealed Dr. Evil does not fully understand the concept of multi-decade inflation.
The Austin Powers scene in question takes place shortly after Dr. Evil (Mike Myers) is awoken from his 30-year-long cryogenic sleep. Immediately ready to start up his world conquering efforts yet again, he proposes an idea involving drilling a hole to the center of the Earth and dropping in a nuclear warhead... unless the governments of the world pay him what he believes is a hefty ransom. As his number two, Number Two (Robert Wagner), points out, though, his demands aren't really extreme enough at the end of the 20th century. You can watch the great sequence in the video below:
In general, the original Austin Powers is a wonderful send-up of the ridiculous 1960s spy thrillers (particularly James Bond), and there is richness in its parody being based in time-displaced plot. It allows for some legitimately clever gags, not only about inflation, but also sexual politics and gender relations. For a ridiculous '90s comedy, it's a smart film.
We aren't quite at Austin Powers 20th anniversary yet - as the movie was first released on May 2, 1997. That, however, just gives you all enough time to get your Blu-rays/digital copies organized so that you can celebrate properly.