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Austin Powers in Goldmember
Stars: Mike Myers, Beyonce Knowles, Verne Troyer, Michael York, Robert Wagner, Sir
Michael Caine, Mindy Starling and Seth Green
Director: Jay Roach 
Scriptwriters: Mike Myers and Michael McCullers
New Line Cinema
Running Time: 90 minutes
Rating: PG 13

If sequels are the bane of a movie critic's life, what can be said about the "third installment"? Not much good, that's for sure. The track record of previous second sequels is a string of disasters. Return of the Jedi? Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade? Batman and Robin? Even the last of the Godfather trilogy is a significant drop from the earlier heights. So I've been surprised to hear how excited people are about the new Austin Powers movie, Goldmember. Do they know something I don't? The second flick wasn't
bad, but it didn't leave anyone wanting more, did it? Apparently more money, and that's what matters in Hollywood.

So back for one more feeding at the cash trough is Mike Myers, reprising his many roles as the titular character plus the villainous but clueless Dr. Evil, the repugnant Fat Bastard, and now Goldmember. I won't explain how he comes by that moniker. At the beginning of the movie, Dr. Evil is actually in jail along with his sidekick Mini-Me, but Austin has Dr. Evil transferred to a low-security prison in exchange for information on the disappearance of Nigel Powers, Austin's father. Yes, conveniently Austin has a father, played by Michael Caine. It turns out that Nigel has been captured and taken back in time to 1975. So, it's up to Austin, decked out in a classic pimp-mobile to go back and find him. There he meets up with old flame Foxxy Cleopatra (Beyonce Knowles). 1975 must be rather dull (that's certainly how I remember it), since our heroes are soon back in the present, where Dr. Evil has predictably escaped and is threatening to
destroy the world.

The first half hour is actually not so much a movie as a string of music videos. Britney Spears magically appears to gyrate through a number, then Beyonce shows us why she was hired on, Austin Powers tries to sing, and finally Dr. Evil and Mini-Me do a hilarious send-up of current rap videos. It's not that I was expecting any kind of plot, but I didn't realize I would be watching a long commercial for the soundtrack instead of a movie. Unfortunately, once the movie gets to the story, I sort of longed for the
music videos.

The only great jokes in the movie involve a series of surprising cameos and a couple of self-referential movie gags involving subtitles. The old stalwarts of the first two Powers pictures--shadow play behind a screen which seems to simulate weird sexual antics; an editing montage in which one scene finishes the sentence of the other scene, thereby creating crude sexual humor; and Austin's trademark phrases--milk those lifeless ideas even further (though I admit to giggling a few times). And then the rest are just a soul-crushing melange of feces, fart, and pee jokes. Urination in particular gets a lot of attention. As my friend Garth wittily pointed out, "Urine is the new poop." I should point out that at least some of the
audience seemed to take great delight in these antics. I guess I'm just not sophisticated enough to appreciate the sight of a man urinating into another man's mouth.

Mike Myers has claimed this will be the last Austin Powers flick, and who can blame him. He looks bored, and his new creation, Goldmember, is gross and uninspired. That character's only gimmick is that he eats his own skin. Oh yeah, that's supposed to be funny, too. Michael Caine brings a little more dignity to his role as Austin's father, but his screen time is unfortunately limited. He does get the best joke in the film, though--a
wonderful line about the Dutch. Fred Savage ("Wonder Years") has nothing to do except sport an enormous mole on his lip (yes, it's supposed to be hilarious), while Robert Wagner as #2 and Mindy Sterling as Frau Farbissina go through the motions. Even Seth Green looks bored, and that's a crime. Also criminal is what happens to his hair; my sister will be outraged.

Pop star Beyonce Knowles also languishes as '70s disco star Foxxy Cleopatra. She has neither the sophistication of Elizabeth Hurley nor the screen presence of Heather Graham. In her defense, though, she doesn't have much to work with; her two main lines are "You're under arrest, sugar" and "Shazam!!" Even still there's no sense of style or even fun, and her '70s throwback is completely unconvincing. But then who can blame her--she wasn't even alive in the '70s. Based on the maturity of the movie, I'm not sure any of the other filmmakers were, either. 

By J. Robert Parks 7/24/2002


Be grateful for every day the sun rises and every night the moon sets without another Austin Powers movie. Unfortunately, a new day did dawn on this indefatigable franchise. Austin Powers in Goldmember, the third in the series starring Mike Myers, effective drowns the audience and whatever spark was in the first film, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, in bathroom humor and crude jokes.

This time, Dr. Evil (Myers) escapes from prison and tries to destroy the earth with a golden meteor aided by Goldmember (Myers). Austin Powers (Myers) goes back and forth in time to prevent this diabolical scheme, which is confusing since whatever the date he wears the same 1960's clothes and looks like a neon sign. Somewhere along the line Sir Michael Caine as Powers' girl-chasing father and Seth Green as Dr. Evil's juggle for screen time with Verne Troyer who reprises his role as Mini-Me, Beyonce Knowles of Destiny's Child, who turns in a fair performance, and another Myers' creations whose name I can't repeat here.

Mike Myers can be a talented actor and witty writer. This film earns one tock here for the beginning film-within-a-film montage. Tom Cruise plays Austin Powers, Gwyneth Paltrow a girl agent, Kevin Spacey Dr. Evil and Danny DeVito Mini-Me, while Powers looks on and Steven Spielberg directs. Then there is the end with out-takes featuring the Osbourne family. Be prepared for crude humor featuring sexual innuendo.

The Austin Powers series is a throwback to the In Like Flint movies and Casino Royale that parodied the James Bond films. Still, enough is enough. One can take only so much imitation of other questionable works to say nothing of the repetition of jokes and the time wasted when Dr. Evil tries to get his cronies to imitate him. (I hold my arm this way, so you hold your arm that way, too.) Virtually anything is used as crude humor and sight gags are clever but sporadic and far too brief.

Austin Powers in Goldmember may thrill Powers fans and at the screening I attended, several were there in costume, but it is the weakest of the three movies. Time is wasted with peals of forced laughter instead of lines, which makes one think Myers and McCullers were running out of dialogue. If Austin Powers had any restraint, hed know it is time to finally stay in the past in his Shaguar, but the financial success of the series will probably prevent the dawning of the day when Myers will ever operate on that level of judgement.

Copyright 2002 Marie Asner 7/27/2002

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