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As insane as it may seem, the original Austin Powers film turns 20 this year. After two decades, the James Bond spoof has become a legend in the comedy genre and has catapulted Mike Meyers to the status of comedic icon -- as if Wayne's World hadn't already done that. The film is one of the quintessential PG-13 comedies of the 1990s, but as it turns out, it initially received an R-rating from the MPAA for including a bit too much of Austin Powers' butt. Director Jay Roach recently opened up about the legacy of Austin Powers and explained the bizarre censorship ruling, saying:
Jay Roach's recent comments to THR regarding the editing process for Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery seem to highlight the ridiculous nature of the MPAA. Although the governing body certainly wanted Roach and Mike Myers to keep the nudity blocking sequence (in which Austin Powers and Vanessa Kensington narrowly avoid showing off their naked bodies through some great prop comedy) within the bounds of good taste, they were far more concerned with the unfreezing scene. In the original cut of the film, when Austin is brought back into action by the government, the sequence of him thawing out of his cryogenic sleep featured brief shots of Powers' butt, which ultimately needed to be cut to earn the film its PG-13 rating. Meyers spends a healthy amount of the movie in the buff, but a direct shot of his rear end ultimately proved too much.
Allow me to make this somewhat clearer for you. This scene was not the one sequence that garnered Austin Powers an R-rating, but a simple shot of Mike Meyers' derriere did.
This revelation raises questions about how the MPAA will treat the Austin Powers franchise if it ever receives a fourth film. Jay Roach and Mike Meyers have made no secret of the fact that they would want to proceed with a follow-up to 2002's Goldmember -- as long as they land on a story that works. The overall comedy landscape has become decidedly raunchier in the last twenty years, so it would prove fascinating to see how a fourth film could continue to evolve the character. In the same way that Austin Powers encountered a massive culture shock when he awoke in 1997, the Austin Powers franchise may similarly experience a huge shift if it ever receives the opportunity to play around with today's more relaxed standards of decency.
On that note, I would just like to conclude by declaring that I want a fourth Austin Powers movie, Mr. Meyers. Please make it happen.