Austin Powers in Goldmember Reviewby Robin Clifford (robin AT reelingreviews DOT com)
July 25th, 2002
"Austin Powers in Goldmember"
That swinging international man of mystery is back in a new adventure as Austin Powers (Mike Myers) must, once again, do battle with evil Dr. Evil (Myers) and his diminutive accomplice Mini-Me (Verne J. Troyer). This time the doctor uses time travel and a new henchman to kidnap Nigel Powers, Austin's father and England's most renowned spy. It's up to Austin and his old flame Foxxy Cleopatra (Beyonce Knowles) to save dad and stamp out Evil in "Austin Powers in Goldmember."
After the uneven and sometimes just not funny second outing of the "Austin Powers" franchise, I had mixed feelings about seeing the third entry in the series. Whereas the original, "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery," was goofy fun that didn't let a story get in the way of the gags, its sequel, "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me," reversed matters. The follow up work lost sight of the attraction of its predecessor and attempted to build a story of the relationship between Austin and Felicity Shagwell (Heather Graham). This made for a long, boring middle stretch that was saved only by Dr. Evil's nefarious plans.
The third flick in the series, "Austin Powers in Goldmember," has, fortunately, more akin to the first than the second installment. Scripters Mike Myers and Michael McCullers pack the gags in and, aside from a sketchy yarn about Austin's kidnapped father, don't get lost in trying to tell a story. From the opening spoof with its bevy of celeb cameos (that's as much as I'll say about it) to the flashback to the beginnings of the rivalry between Austin and Dr. Evil to the revelations made in the finale the filmmakers are having fun.
The usual suspects - Austin, Dr. Evil, Fat Bastard, Number Two (Robert Wagner), Basil Exposition (Michael York), Scotty Evil (Seth Green), Mini-Me (Verne Troyer) and Frau Farbissina (Mindy Sterling) - are back and as zany as ever. New faces appear, too, with Beyonce Knowles (of the vocal group Destiny's Child) making a splash as sexy super spy Foxxy Cleopatra, Austin's old flame recruited to help the man of mystery save the world. Fred Savage is a good guy mole infiltrated into Dr. Evil's evil organization as Number Three whose prominent facial feature is, surprise, a big, hairy mole. The flashback introduces the principles - Austin, Evil, Basil and Number 2 - as young prep school students and is a beautiful job of casting.
While not given in the machine gun style of the "Airplane!" movies, the gags still come at a pretty brisk pace. Of course, the plethora of pee, poop, fart and other bathroom humor predominates as the Myer/McCullers comedy script seeks the lowest common denominator. As in the first "AP" flick, the jokes are sometimes carried to absurd lengths. This worked with Dr. Evil's extended maniacal laughs the first time around, but not so well this time, for example, when Austin fixates on Number Three's enormous mole. There are a few of these extended gags that fall flat. Things work much better with the quick and dirty jokes.
Myers is trying to rival the great Peter Sellars as he portrays four characters in "Austin Powers in Goldmember." The latest, the title character Goldmember, is a Dutch metallurgist with an obsession for gold. He's a quirky, weirdly accented guy whose presence is mainly standalone, not interacting with the rest of the cast. Fat Bastard is back, though I didn't care for him in "AP 2" (except for his desire to eat Mini-Me. Speaking of which, Mini-Me has a lot more to do here and, as such, is a much more likable character.) Dr. Evil is still one of my favorite bad guys and he is frickin' funny once again. The big surprise is Beyonce Knowles who gives a very confident debut perf as sexy spy, Foxxy.
Techs befit the budget with big sets, funky costumes and makeup - and laser beam shooting sharks. The surprises dished out in "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery" and the freshness of the Bond spoof have gotten a bit stale this time, though the third time is the charm, especially when compared to "The Spy Who Shagged Me."
"Austin Powers in Goldmember" has the right stuff for silly summer entertainment and has enough laughs to sustain interest to the end. It is, however, a sequel and I give it a B-.
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