Austin Powers in Goldmember Review

by Harvey S. Karten (film_critic AT compuserve DOT com)
July 26th, 2002


Rating out of 4 stars:3
Reviewed by Harvey Karten
New Line Cinema
Director: Jay Roach
Writer: Mike Myers, Michael McCullers
Cast: Mike Myers, Beyonce Knowles, Michael York, Michael Caine, Heather Graham, Seth Green
Screened at: Lincoln Square, NYC. 7/17/02

    Easily the funniest, most imaginative and perhaps the most lavish and expensive of the Austin Power trilogy, "Austin Powers in Goldmember" is a frantically-paced series of skits loosely anchored by the thinnest of plots. Featuring parodies of more movies than you could squeeze on a notebook page in a dark theater including "Goldfinger," "The Ipcress File," "The Italian Job" and even "Singing in the Rain," Jay Roach's collage of merry mayhem centers on the enormous talents of Michael Myers who plays four of the most diverse characters as though they were set apart by but one degree of separation. If you did not know in advance that the spectacled savior of the world in his regular nerdy but wholly extroverted persona is also the five hundred pound character known as Fat Bastard, the billiard-ball bald Dr. Evil, and the diabolical Dutchman called Goldmember (because of an accident that gilded his eponymous phallus), you'd be hard-put to figure that out even if you life depended on it. There's little doubt that some in the audience who'd not pay attention to the end credits might even think that Mini Me, the show-stealing imp played once again by Verne J. Troyes, is just another Myers incarnation.

    Since even the most physical of comedies must have at least a tissue-thin story around which to base its skits, writers Michael McCullers and Myers himself have constructed a time-travel tale concerning the diabolical Goldmember, whose plan to take over the world involves the kidnapping of Austin's dad, super-spy Nigel Powers (Michael Caine) who had taught Austin all he knew about the cloak-and-dagger game and who has a paternity secret revealed toward the end of the film that bring the tale to a mock-sentimental conclusion. To get the help of his foxy ex-girl friend, Powers travels back in time to 1975 where he picks up the Afro-bedecked Foxxy Cleopatra (Beyonce Knowles) at New York's Studio 69, then moves with her back to our own 2002 so that together they can rescue Austin's dad and foil the plans of Goldmember and the ransom- demanding Dr. Evil who works with a minute alter ego and spit- and-image, Mini Me (Verne J. Troyes).

    Unlike director Jay Roach's 1997 opener subtitled "International Man of Mystery," "Goldmember" has a lot more going for it than a one-joke premise and happily Myers does not overextend the hippy argot "Groovy, Baby" or "Yeah Baby" this time. Unlike the second in the series, subtitled "The Spy Who Shagged Me," also directed by Mr. Roach, "Goldmember" restrains its gross-out gags to a modicum of bathroom humor and just the right touch of sexual innuendo. Still an original when compared to other films that rely on physical comedy, "Austin Powers in Goldmember" has one inventive scene allegedly occurring outside Tokyo involving the reading of subtitles, but Roach has a difficult time besting his supremely entertaining opener that utilizes a bevy of major Hollywood celebrities in some musical shtick that could have come out of "42nd Street."

    Strangely, MGM had opposed the use of the title "Goldmember" as an infringement of its own James Bond possession, "Goldfinger," but what's wrong with a little product placement to call audience attention to the inimitable Bond series particularly with the upcoming November release of "Die Another Day?"

Rated PG-13. Running time: 95 minutes. (C) 2002 by Harvey Karten, [email protected]

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