The Disaster Artist (2017)

*. The first thing I have to say is that I haven’t seen The Room. Meaning I’ve never sat down and watched the whole thing all the way through. I think I have, however, seen enough of The Room not to need or want to see any more.
*. The Disaster Artist is a movie based on a book of the same name written by Greg Sestero about the making of The Room. Which means it should be unique in its subject matter and point of view. As it turns out, however, it’s a very similar film to Tim Burton’s Ed Wood. Is it a not uncommon story?
*. Once again we have the crazy wannabe artist (Tommy Wiseau, played by James Franco) who dares to follow his dream of becoming an auteur. Hollywood loves these guys (Franco was on track to win an Oscar before being derailed by sexual misconduct allegations), and I think they strike a chord with the broader public as well. How could you not root for such deluded goofs, how could you not want them to succeed? That said . . .
*. As with Ed Wood I found myself wanting to go along with it but after a while I realized there wasn’t enough to care about. It’s not only that these guys (Wood and Wiseau) didn’t have any particular talent, but aside from their personal quirks and oddities they’re just not that interesting on any deeper level. Their films have a limited naive charm to them, but at the end of the day they’re garbage, only entertaining for their display of incompetence.
*. This leads in to the mystery of Tommy Wiseau himself. He’s done a great job building this up, but at the end of the day do I really care where he comes from or how he got all his money? Or whether there is something more to his attraction to Greg than friendship? Again and again in interviews and on the commentary track included with the DVD he has nothing to say when he is pressed. It’s become a kind of shtick.
*. For a film based on such recent true events and a book written by one of the principal actors in those events, I was surprised when listening to the commentary at the liberties taken. Most striking was the cameo by Bryan Cranston, who offers Greg an audition for a part in Malcolm in the Middle. Apparently this never happened, and the big choice Greg had to make was between shaving his beard or being in a photo shoot. That’s quite a dramatic change.
*. In short, I liked The Disaster Artist up to a point. James Franco, like Johnny Depp portraying Ed Wood, has fun doing a real-life caricature. The appearance of Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen is fitting since that’s the kind of comedy the film is aiming for. It’s basically a mockumentary with a clueless madman at the center that everyone responds to by way of stunned reaction shots.
*. The thing is, you get the joke pretty quickly and the rest of the movie’s message is trite. Follow your dreams. Don’t listen to your critics. Stand by your friends. And then maybe everything will work out in the end anyway.
*. It’s such a powerful message that it even took Ed Wood’s sad life story and turned it into something to be celebrated. Insulated from that kind of failure by his wealth, Tommy Wiseau was never in danger of coming to such a tragic end. The historical moment also saved him, as it didn’t Wood. Wood was an authentic outsider where Wiseau was more pleasingly ironic. A post-credit meeting between Wiseau and Franco still in character as Tommy is the perfect joke to end with. Somehow we’re all in on it. Whatever it is.

Black Angel (1946)

*. Basically Phantom Lady over again. Both films are based on Cornell Woolrich stories, though he was reportedly unhappy with how this one was adapted. Once again a married man is charged with murder, though this time he is suspected of killing a lover who had been blackmailing him. He is tried, found guilty, and sent to death row, effectively disappearing from the movie. His wife sets out to prove his innocence.
*. It’s not as good a movie as Phantom Lady. Director Roy William Neill was a prolific journeyman, probably best known for directing a pile of the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes movies and Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, the first of Universal’s horror ensembles. He wasn’t an old man but this was his last movie as he died of a heart attack soon after finishing it. I think he does fine, but he’s no Robert Siodmak in the style department, and indeed doesn’t even try for much in that regard.
*. The cast is second tier. Dan Duryea and June Vincent are the leads and you’ll have to be a real fan of the period to recognize their names. Peter Lorre just shows up and tries to amuse himself by seeing how low he can dangle a cigarette from his lips while delivering his lines. There’s even one scene where he’s on the telephone and he hangs it up as he’s still talking to the guy on the other end. That’s just lazy and careless on everyone’s part.
*. The one thing that does stand out is the twist in the plot that comes at the end. That took me by surprise, even though I was puzzling throughout how they were going to make the romantic angles all square off, as they were getting mighty murky by the standards of Code Hollywood. Well, they don’t manage it very easily, as things take a turn for the wildly improbable in the final act. And I’m left wondering if Carver & Martin wouldn’t have been a better outcome. Wouldn’t they have been good for each other? She’s on her way to becoming a star and he’s kicked his drinking habit. As for hubby, when Vincent points to his photo and asks Duryea if he thinks that looks like a killer, don’t you want to say, “Yes!”
*. There’s a not uncommon flaw in mystery stories where they tease us with red herrings and misdirections that, in the finale, turn out to make more sense than the actual explanation that’s given. Black Angel may fall into this category. The ending we’re left with just doesn’t add up, though it does deserve some points for weirdness and mocking expectations.

Vivarium (2019)

*. Vivarium is part of the New Weird in terms of genre, meaning it’s a mix of dark fantasy and SF. Whenever I get into a NW book or movie I suspect some kind of allegory is intended. I think that’s the case here as well, but it falls short.
*. Here’s the story (read no further if you want to avoid spoilers). A young, unmarried, childless couple — Gemma (Imogen Poots) and Tom (Jesse Eisenberg) — go to a new townhouse development named Yonder, a place which makes the usual “cookie-cutter” appellation seem quaint. After a brief tour their creepy guide leaves them, and they find out they’re trapped. No matter how far they walk or drive, or in what direction, they always end up back at Unit 9. They are the only people around. No cell phone coverage, naturally. Boxes are dropped off with food and other supplies. Then a baby arrives. They are told to raise it. It grows up quickly, and gives signs of being some kind of alien life form despite looking human. Then Tom and Gemma die and their now adult (adopted) son goes to work in the same real estate office that they visited at the beginning.
*. Allegories have two levels of interpretation. On the literal level, as far as it is explained, Yonder is an extra-dimensional space constructed by aliens, or some other species native to Earth but unknown to us, whose purpose is to force humans to raise Yonder young.
*. Just on the literal level my basic problem is the same one I have with most such alien movies, or movies involving supernatural creatures like devils or demons. If these other beings are so smart/technologically advanced/powerful, then why are they wasting their time preying on humans? Don’t they have better things to do? The Yonders put all this effort into building their nests just to end up dressing like Mormon missionaries and selling real estate? I guess cuckoos have no imaginative life of their own, but these particular creatures are technologically sophisticated and even write books. They have a culture. So I don’t get it. Their existence seems far more complicated and even less fulfilling than Tom digging a hole in the yard.

*. That’s the macro problem I have, on the literal level. I’d also wonder why Gemma and Tom weren’t put on their notice right away by an estate that looks even more like a Guy Billout picture than the town in The Truman Show. Much more. Those clouds! Also, where are the garages? It’s obviously a commuter development but there’s no place for anyone to park their cars except on the street. There aren’t even any driveways! Did this not strike them as odd right away?

*. Then there is the message, or allegorical meaning of what’s going on. This is pretty grim. The suburbs are hell. Work is pointless drudgery. And once you have a kid your life is forfeit, as you no longer have any purpose except to serve the little monster. Are we all so alienated today, from where we live, what we do, and each other? Well, this movie seems to be saying, Yes we are. And the virtual world next door is even worse.
*. Not very uplifting, or profound. And indeed I thought it all got a lot less interesting as it went along. Obviously we’ve been here before, in what I’ve dubbed the Simulacrum movies (The Truman Show, The Matrix, Dark City). I suppose the only thing different here is that we have become even more complicit in our own destruction. The cuckoo Yonders (it’s an analogy the opening credits introduces, crudely), are taking advantage of our nurturing nature, the sort of thing that helps us endure the stations of the cross of parenting. The moral of the story being that . . . we shouldn’t give in to these feelings? That it’s all just a conformist scam? I don’t know.
*. I mentioned in my notes on the Black Christmas remake (if that’s what it was) that Imogen Poots was growing on me. She grows some more here, as she carries the movie, distracting us from a super-creepy and annoying boy (he likes to scream) and an only slightly less annoying Jesse Eisenberg. I’ve also noted before how Eisenberg is not growing on me, and while he’s not bad here I still don’t care for him. And playing a landscaper?
*. Neat to look at, and given the premise it doesn’t matter that Yonder seems like a movie set or virtual environment. The artificiality of the design is something you’re supposed to appreciate. The characters, however, don’t seem any more three dimensional than the sets, and the point of it all struck me as glum and uninsightful.

The Lookout (2007)

*. The defining characteristic of the condition of the arts in the twenty-first century (thus far) mirrors what’s also been going on in the broader economy: the establishment of a winner-takes-all lottery where a few bestsellers, hit albums, or blockbuster movies get all the attention/audience/money and the rest essentially disappear.
*. I guess for a while when it was in development The Lookout seemed as though it might have been in the running for being one of these winners. There was a script by Scott Frank, who had an established record of writing major hits. There was talk of Spielberg being interested, and then of David Fincher coming on board. One can imagine the budgets being discussed.
*. But those deals fell through and that movie didn’t get made. Instead, Frank himself took the reins as director and the shoot traveled up to Winnipeg to stand in for Kansas, with a budget of around $15 million. What they ended up with is a fine little modern noir heist movie, but one that disappeared at the box office. As with the mid-list, the mid-tier (and the middle class in general) are getting squeezed.
*. This is disappointing, as there are some good performances here, especially by the two leads Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Matthew Goode. Where the movie falls down, ironically, is with Frank’s script. It just isn’t all that interesting. I think Amy Simmons, writing in Time Out, summed it up well as “forgettable fun”: “a straightforward genre piece in which double-crosses and surprise twists lead to the inevitable.”
*. As per the standard noir plot our hero Chris Pratt (not the actor) is a bit of a wimp and a loser after being in a car accident that has left him mentally impaired in a very slight way. The only job he can do is pushing a mop after-hours at a bank. This makes him an easy mark for Goode’s Gary Spargo, who wants to rob said bank. Things get messy, the thieves fall out, but (more than a little improbably) everything works out in the end for the good guys.
*. Franks wanted to make a movie more about character than story, considering this to be “European.” He may have been getting this idea from a distinction Roger Ebert made between American and European movies, with the former driven by story and the latter being about characters. Alas, while the story here is pretty thin and free of twists, I didn’t find the characters all that interesting either. Chris is bland. Gary is a bad dude, only made human or distinct by his asthma inhaler. Jeff Daniels is just a dude dude, and blind. Isla Fisher is “Luvlee” Lemons, who is about as deep a character as her name implies. Even the blind dude can see through her.
*. Also worthy of mention is Greg Dunham playing Geddy Lee playing the venomous gang member “Bone.” Movies like this need these silent, sinister figures to give them an extra spark. Bone is so bad he even wears shades in a dark basement. Maybe he’s blind too. You never know.
*. Still, this is a decent, clean movie, nicely photographed in a way that brings out the stark, barren atmosphere of Kansas/Manitoba in winter, places where people don’t go outdoors very much. I don’t think it stands out as anything special finally, but it’s better, and by that I mean both more substantial and more creatively executed, than many blockbusters. But has the non-blockbuster audience left the building? I don’t know where little movies like this fit anymore.

Galaxy Quest (1999)

*. Like any successful franchise, Star Trek quickly spawned a cottage industry of parodies that never let up. The only comparison I can think of is to the wave of spy spoofs that followed in the wake of Bondmania and which have never gone out of style.
*. I’m not just talking about movie take-offs. The Star Trek formula has been parodied most recently by such popular SF authors as John Scalzi in Redshirts and Steven Erikson in Willful Child. Because Star Trek, like Bond, never went away the send-ups could continue, mining the same nostalgic ore year-in and year-out.
*. In the case of Star Trek there was also the phenomenon of its fandom, the conventioneering covered in such films as Trekkies and Free Enterprise (Fanboys would do the same for Star Wars fans). Trekkiedom is a cult, but a good-natured one that doesn’t take itself too seriously. They constitute the sort of crowd expected to get all the jokes in a movie like Galaxy Quest, and laugh.
*. Galaxy Quest is very much a movie in this same spirit of spoof, sending up both Star Trek and its fans in a way that generously affirms the spirit of both. This even lets it get away with the shameless trick at the end of the crowd at the convention standing to applaud the cast, sending everyone home happy.
*. Star Trek is also like Bond in that the formula is so well known even outside of the fan base that you don’t have to be steeped in what’s being sent up to get the joke. When Gwen (Sigourney Weaver) rants about having to repeat all the captain’s instructions to the computer, or at the giant pistons they have to navigate without being crushed, it’s funny regardless of how well you know the original show.
*. I don’t think there’s anything special about the script here. It’s basically Three Amigos! in space. But the cast is impeccable, with Tim Allen as the captain (or commander), Weaver as his sexy lieutenant, Alan Rickman as a very jaded Spock, Tony Shalhoub as the easy-going engineer, Daryl Mitchell as the Wil Wheatonesque wunderkind who’s grown up, and Sam Rockwell as the redshirt. Together they go through the usual stages of a Star Trek plot, beaming down to a deceptively innocent-looking planet and saving some peace-loving aliens from the Klingons, with the help of a time-reversing device that would later be adopted, out of sheer laziness, by the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And then everyone cheers.
*. So it’s good-natured, and given what it’s sending up doesn’t suffer for its small-screen feel. An aware film that never goes full meta. One for the fans who were, in turn, so appreciative that there have since been many calls for a sequel. I don’t know if that’s necessary though, given how thoroughly they blew everything up here. Not to mention the fact that the basic premise wouldn’t work a second time around. In any event, it’s a genre that, along with its parody versions, has basically become a self-replicating loop. And, of course, there are always reruns.

The Jigsaw (2014)

*. Just a campfire ghost story, and I have a feeling it’s one I’ve heard before somewhere. Even the set-up is so old it creaks. If you’re looking for another turn of the screw in 8 minutes that’s expecting a bit much. You know anything bought in that antique shop is going to be cursed. And the old man (Pedro Monteiro) is even given a warning!
*. Just by the way, for various reasons not worth getting into I’ve been doing a lot of jigsaw puzzles myself recently. A number of these come by way of flea markets or yard sales (they are quite expensive if you buy them new). And the percentage chance that a puzzle bought in that store, in that box, still had all the pieces is approaching zero. But of course it’s a magic puzzle so that doesn’t matter. I also think it’s strange that the puzzle doesn’t have a picture on the front of the box, or anywhere else, showing what it’s supposed to be of. That makes it a lot harder, though not impossible, to solve. I have a neighbour who thinks that looking at the picture is somehow cheating, but she’s a bit weird.
*. Of course the real puzzle, given all this, is why the old man wants to buy that puzzle anyway. There are some clues. He seems to live alone but there’s a photo of a younger man and a woman. He and his wife? Then he puts on a record and it plays “We’ll Meet Again.” Does this amount to some kind of death wish? How does one interpret the chiming of the clock? His time is up? And washing his face? A sort of ritual ablution before crossing over? I mean, clearly he doesn’t seem that interested in saving himself from the doom peering over his shoulder.
*. But while I can understand wanting to die so — perhaps to be reunited with his wife but maybe just to put an end to such a dull and lonely existence — why choose such a nasty way to go? Embracing one’s fate is one thing, but this particular fate?
*. I ask these questions because they’re all the puzzle the film has. I liked it and though it was nicely turned out by the Al-Safar brothers (Basil and Rashad), but I wouldn’t call it scary, suspenseful, suggestive, or surprising. I’d say it’s made for the campfire but I think we have to update that reference to the Internet. Short films are for browsing, and I’m not sure how much that changes our response to them. The world of doing jigsaw puzzles while a record plays in the background belongs to another age entirely. Can we still relate? With so many windows open, how concerned are we by the bogeyman appearing in one?

Dead & Buried (1981)

*. A couple of preliminary points. First, Dead & Buried is a movie with a bit of a twist ending, or a couple of twists, and I’ll be talking about them here so consider yourself warned.
*. Second: I love the work Blue Underground puts into their special editions. This one comes as a 2-disc DVD with three commentary tracks and a bunch of other extra features. But, and I’m sure I’ve said this before, if you’re going to go through all this trouble why not have subtitles, or at least closed-captioning? Even the most bare-bone DVD releases usually have closed-captioning.
*. Now, on to the movie.

*. Potters Bluff, Maine. Though I thought Rhode Island was mentioned at one point. In any event, it was shot in Mendocino, California. A very foggy Mendocino. Even foggier indoors than outside at night. This was done quite deliberately by photographer Steven Poster, as he explains on his commentary track. All kinds of steps were taken to diffuse the lighting, from hanging a giant sail from a crane to block out the sun in the opening scene to using a smoke machine indoors. The point was to have the audience leaning forward in their seats trying to see what was going on before springing a surprise at them. It’s not an effect I care for, but it is a distinctive look.
*. “A New Way of Life.” Ho-ho. Potters Bluff (yes, another giveaway) is a town with a Fulci-esque feel to it, a feeling only deepened by the fog and woeful dubbing. Not that the dialogue is worth much anyway. Note the way the concerned mother repeats the line about needing a “cold compress” for her kid’s head while exploring the spooky old house. Why not check the fridge? Sure to be a cold compress in there, even if it looks as though the power hasn’t been on for years.
*. They had to dub that scene because of the presence of a child actor who wasn’t allowed to shoot at night. This meant the house had to be covered in a tarp, which made things very noisy because the location then had to be ventilated (requiring the sound to all be put in later). But then many other scenes seem badly dubbed as well and I don’t know what was going on with them.
*. Commentary tracks can be really helpful. The legendary Stan Winston did the effects here, and it was one of his first theatrical projects. The effects are generally very good, and I only thought the doctor’s death stood out as being below par. But Sherman explains this: Winston didn’t do the fake head of the doctor because (as I understand the story) that scene was added later at the request of the studio, who wanted more gore. It’s too bad, as the head is clearly a dummy and it really strikes a wrong note.
*. The DVD box tells us that it’s a movie that’s from “the creators of Alien.” I’m never sure what exactly is meant by the elastic term “creator.” It doesn’t refer to Stan Winston, who worked on Aliens but not Alien. Instead, what is meant is that the script was by Ronald Shusett and Dan O’Bannon, who wrote Alien. Though apparently it was all Shusett here and O’Bannon had actually wanted his name taken off the credits. Not because he didn’t like the film but just because he didn’t think any of it was his work.
*. As far as the script goes, I think it’s a good concept, working very much like an extended Twilight Zone episode or Tales from the Crypt comic. I could see it as being one of the stories in Creepshow.

*. Thinking of how much it looks like Creepshow made me think of various other connections. I already mentioned Fulci and I had to wonder if the needle-in-the-eye scene was inspired by the splinter-in-the-eye from Zombie (or Zombi 2). Carpenter’s The Fog had come out just the year before, and its seaside town overrun with murderous ghosts might have also been in play. Then there is the central conceit of the protagonist (Sheriff Dan here, played by James Farentino) not knowing who he really is, which may remind you of Carnival of Souls, or later characters like Harry Angel and Malcolm Crowe.
*. Though there are all these connections, Dead & Buried still feels fresh. Part of this may be due to when it came out, a time when theatres were saturated with slasher flicks and horror cinema had reached a kind of nadir. But more I think is due to the character of the town’s “official coroner-mortician” Dobbs, played by Jack Albertson in his final role.
*. Dobbs has his progenitors as well. Sherman says that the horror film he was most inspired by was the 1953 House of Wax, and Dobbs is clearly an artist-madman in the same vein, even using many of the same materials as Vincent Price. But Dobbs is also a comic figure, perhaps a leftover of early drafts of the script where the movie was imagined as more of a dark comedy. And he is also a sleazier kind of artist, with his library of Super 8 snuff films and Platonic necrophilia. His zombies, after all, are “even more beautiful than the living,” which is a doubly-charged boast since he is one himself.
*. The other element that gives Dead & Buried an extra bit of juice is the ambiguity with which the zombie townsfolk are presented. In the first place we may wonder how many people in Potters Bluff are zombies. It’s impossible to say for sure because not all of them know if they’re alive or dead (though surely they should be, since the dead all need frequent touching up). Then there is the question of their moral character. Sherman describes them as mere puppets, and directed the actors to play them cool and not villainous. They kill their victims in what seem to me to be cruel ways, but even this may be by direction, in order to conceal cause of death. By the end we’ve come to see them as being, like Janet, sympathetic figures, a sad community of the dead who care for each other. And has Janet found release in being finally dead and buried? Or will she wake up tomorrow morning and make Dan breakfast?
*. I’m not being entirely facetious. Why is she going on about what’s going to be for dinner at the end? She sounds like Bobbie having her mechanical meltdown at the end of The Stepford Wives (1975).
*. One of the selling points of the film today is that it has Robert (Freddy Krueger) Englund in a bit part as a tow-truck driver. One of the featurettes included with the DVD is an interview with him as well. Which is fine because he’s an interesting guy to listen to, but I can think of a half-dozen other people who might have had more to say.
*. Despite the deluxe Blue Underground treatment I don’t think Dead & Buried is a classic. It is, however, a fun little movie with some style and originality. Poster comments on how a lack of experience made them more likely to take chances, and I think there was a real attempt to make something good. Sherman had a strict colour scheme worked out, for example, which he enforced to the extent of changing the taillights on the cars so that bright reds would be kept out. There were also some impressive long takes, some of which ended up being pruned.
*. I’m not sure these efforts panned out, at least in terms of making this a better, or scarier, movie. As with the fuzzy picture, it was all deliberate but I don’t think the results had quite the effect they wanted. I guess the picture quality adds something to the atmosphere, but to me it just looks blurry. The colour scales are dull. The effects in the final graveyard scene are disappointing. I wanted to see whole faces falling off! I wanted House of Wax plus!
*. Still, it is a movie that I think lasts, mainly on the back of the weirdo Dobbs and his perverse battle with the indignity of death. That Albertson himself was dying adds a poignancy to the proceedings. Many if not most actors go out on less distinguished notes.

Get Smart (2008)

*. Get Smart isn’t so much a movie as a product. There’s a brand name, going back to a beloved television show from the 1960s. There’s a big budget (an $80 million comedy!) and an impressive collection of talent in front of the camera. Plot-wise there’s a little something for everyone. Necessarily, in the judgment of Brian D. Johnson, because as a summer blockbuster it was “obliged” to be not just comedy but action and romance. With all these boxes being ticked how could it go wrong? Or right?
*. Well, they really did blow it. There are maybe a couple of laughs here but the overall sense is that of waste. In my notes on It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) I questioned the whole idea of putting “bigness” together with comedy. Watching Get Smart I was thinking the same thing. You can’t just throw stars at a big property and expect it’s going to work. To what purpose were all these players assembled? Bill Murray appears in a cameo as a lonely agent stuck in a tree. It isn’t funny. James Caan is the president, and he isn’t funny. Alan Arkin is an actor I miss, and I think he can be funny but he sure isn’t here. Terence Stamp was made to play the heavy but is given nothing to work with. Dwayne Johnson . . . you get the point.
*. There’s nothing interesting in the action part of the plot either. A terrorist organization (KAOS) is going to blow up Los Angeles with a nuclear bomb unless they get so many billion dollars. Our hero, Maxwell Smart (Steve Carrell), recently promoted to field agent, is sent along with Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway) to stop them. So it’s a buddy flick with a mismatched pair of good guys. There’s a case of mistaken identity. A capture and an escape. A break-in to steal some important secrets. A bad guy with a giant sidekick. A race to stop the bomb from going off.
*. At least in the romance department there’s a bright spot. Anne Hathaway has the rare ability to project as both sexy and funny and she’s the only reason to watch this movie, totally upstaging Carrell at every turn.
*. Where did things go wrong? The usual suspects. The script doesn’t seem to me to have anything worthwhile in it. Take the fat stuff. I guess seeing Carrell paired with a large woman in the ballroom dance-off scene is basic odd-couple comedy, but I couldn’t figure out what was supposed to be funny about Max having been obese once. Just seeing Carrell in a fat suit?
*. Then there’s the direction. David Ansen in Newsweek referred to Peter Segal as “a comedy specialist lacking any apparent sense of humour.” That’s an assessment I’d agree with, and I was really surprised when I checked out Segal’s filmography. His big-screen directing debut came with Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult (1994) and he then went on to Tommy Boy (1995), My Fellow Americans (1996), The Nutty Professor II: The Klumps (2000), Anger Management (2003), 50 First Dates (2004), The Longest Yard (2005), this movie, Grudge Match (2013) and My Spy (2020). How can someone work for 25 years in this genre directing so many not-funny movies? He’s like the Rob Zombie of comedy.
*. Well, I mentioned the big budget and the fact is Get Smart made it all back and then some. So perhaps that answers my question. I guess three Austin Powers movies hadn’t killed audience appetites for retro-flavoured spy spoofs yet. There were (of course) plans for a sequel but Carrell didn’t like the initial script, which I think means it must have been really bad. Then Carrell wrote his own script but it never went anywhere. I think that’s fair, as this movie was more than enough.