Austin Powers in Goldmember Reviewby Laura Clifford (laura AT reelingreviews DOT com)
July 26th, 2002
AUSTIN POWERS IN GOLDMEMBER
When Austin Powers' (Mike Myers) father Nigel (Michael Caine) is kidnapped, Austin's forced to make a deal with Dr. Evil (Mike Myers), moving him from a maximum security prison to the less secure facility where Mini Me (Verne Troyer) is being held. Dr. Evil points Austin towards 1975, where a new villain, Goldmember (Mike Myers) holds court over Studio 69. While Austin's back in time hooking up with his old flame Foxxy Cleopatra (Beyonce Knowles), Evil and Mini Me escape and connect with the Dutch Disco man to cook up a new plot to take over the world in "Austin Powers in Goldmember."
While it's lacking in the original's 'fish out of water' premise, "Austin Powers in Goldmember" is a spring back from the dismal "Spy Who Shagged Me," featuring the foxiest Powers' girl yet in Knowles. The star-crammed faux opening sequence is never topped, but the laughs mostly keep coming.
The third Austin Powers 'story' is pretty threadbare. What we have here is an examination of fathers, sons and sibling rivalry - squared and sideways. As Scotty Evil (Seth Green) continues to try and win his father's affections over Mini Me by presenting him with diabolical weapons ('You mean I have frickin' sharks with frickin' laser beams on their frickin' heads?' marvels Evil), so too does Austin try to win the respect of the world's most famous spy - his father Nigel. We're also treated to a flashback of Powers and Evil as boarding school roommates nailed by newcomers Aaron Himelstein and Josh Zuckerman.
Speaking of flashbacks, in this self aware comedy Dr. Evil uses the filmic device at will to make a point and characters also have fun and games with subtitles. The regular routines, such as women holding strategically placed melons, shadow puppet plays and prodigious peeing displays, are to be found as well.
For every few good gags (Mini Me in a baby snuggler, Britney Spears as a fembot, Hollywood's biggest director and female star doing crossover backflips into Austin's opening musical number), a clunker arrives. Goldmember (real name Van der Smut) is a double jointed Dutchman who lost his genitals in a smelting accident and replaced them with a solid gold replica. He eats his own sun-damaged skin as it flakes off. Not funny, although Nigel's Dutch barbs are amusing. Fat Bastard should also be retired. The character is simply disgusting, not even funny in the overworked gross-out comedy way. Fred Savage (TV's "The Wonder Years") is left adrift by the script as Number 3, a Mole with a prominent mole on his face. The Ozzy Osbourne cameo already feels shopworn.
Myers and cowriter Michael McCullers still produce some inspired moments, though. While I'm unclear as to how Austin could have history with a woman in 1975 when he was cryogenically frozen in the 60s, Foxxy's initial undercover communication with him, using Nathan Lane as a literal mouthpiece, is priceless. In the opening film which parodies Powers which parodies 60s spy flicks to begin with, a blond film star takes off a motorcycle helmet and introduces herself to Hollywood's biggest star as Dixie Normous. Myers also brilliantly turned around an on set visit by Today Show host Katie Couric into a cameo for her - as a unibrowed prison guard.
Production design is swinging from Austin's brightly colored pad near London's Millennium dome to Dr. Evil's new submarine which looks just like him. Costume is key as always as is makeup. Frau Farbissina gets to tramp it up for a prison visit and Foxxy's wash and wear afro is fab. Music features Spears, Knowles and a fabulous prison rap by the doo ragged duo of Dr. Evil and Mini Me set to "It's a Hard Knock Life" from the musical "Annie."
"Austin Powers in Goldmember" would be a nice stopping point for the series, but I wouldn't bet on it. As long as Austin keeps his groove at this level, bring another on, baby.
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