Review: ‘Austin Powers in Goldmember’

While still lacking the satirical genius that made the original “International Man of Mystery” a cult hit, “Goldmember” is the second “Austin Powers” sequel to rely more on hit-or-miss comic bits rather than anything deeper. Fortunately, Mike Myers can save a miss and milk a hit better than anyone.

Austin ‘Danger’ Powers (Mike Myers) has thwarted yet another plan by Dr. Evil (Mike Myers again) when he learns that his father, Nigel Powers (Michael Caine), has been kidnapped by a criminal mastermind named Goldmember (yep, Mike Myers). Austin joins forces with American agent Foxxy Cleopatra (Beyonc?© Knowles) to uncover Goldmember’s secret plan, which everyone from Dr. Evil’s organization is already involved with, including Fat Bastard (Mike Myers), Mini-me (Verne Troyer), Frau Farbissina (Mindy Sterling), and Scott (Seth Green). Will Austin Powers save the day again, and, more importantly, will it be funny?

There are two distinct faces of Mike Myers. There is the subtle and clever Mike Myers, which creates cult classics such as “So I Married an Axe Murderer” and the original “Austin Power: International Man of Mystery,” the same face that refused a $25 million payday because he admitted he couldn’t make “Sprockets” a good enough feature film. Then there is the mainstream Mike Myers, which churns out sequels to “Wayne’s World” and “Austin Powers” as a series of barely related sight gags more than anything else. Which is better? Depends on who you ask. Like “Men in Black 2,” the first post-cult Powers sequel was “The Spy Who Shagged Me,” which was dependent on furthering the same comedy bits that worked in the original while peppering it with higher budget special effects that the original didn’t and wasn’t able to rely upon. Funny yes, but still hollow; Austin Powers was now a mainstream pop icon, and the studio influence could be felt as heavily as every time the suits walk into a season of Saturday Night Live.

“Goldmember” is still a victim of a big budget (meaning there’s less pressure to be creative due to money), but unlike “The Spy Who Shagged Me,” Myers takes his new sequel in a different (although predictable) direction, managing to inject a little of the original’s mojo into the story. Michael Caine playing Nigel Powers works well; Caine steals most of his scenes at the expense of Myers who happily lets him do it. Beyonc?© Knowles (as Foxxy Cleopatra) knows an opportunity when she sees one, showing as much of her acting range as the script lets her can get away with (it works, too, especially since she’s the ONLY one doing so); it also affords her the opportunity to not only show up Heather Graham (as Felicity Shagwell) but also Liz Hurley (as Ms. Kensington) as the series’ best sidekick.

There are things wrong with this film, but there are few lengths it won’t go to for a laugh. “Goldmember” is mostly told in reverse, connecting all three films to one another to give fans of the series a bookend, and a bookend seems appropriate since Myers looks a bit as if he’s slowing down. Whether you’re new to Austin ‘Danger’ Powers or a shagadelic fan of the series, this one may be the last, and it’s a worthy sequel to end with.

(a three skull recommendation out of four)

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