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Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999)

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Score: 4/10

Genre: Comedy and Spy Running Time: 1 hr. 35 min.

Release Date: June 11th, 1999 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Jay Roach Actors: Mike Myers, Elizabeth Hurley, Heather Graham, Michael York, Robert Wagner, Seth Green, Rob Lowe, Mindy Sterling, Verne Troyer, Gia Carides, Muse Watson, Will Ferrell, Charles Napier, Tim Robbins, Fred Willard

A

fter the commercial success of the first film, this sequel no longer needs to spoof James Bond or other spy pictures. It can now just make fun of itself, play along with its recognizable characters, and repeat or alter jokes from the prior release. It can also wholeheartedly mock pop culture. This time, the film opens with “Star Wars” scroll text, a piece of a parody theme song (by They Might Be Giants), a Jerry Springer bit, and an extension of the barely obscured nudity gimmick from before; clearly, the filmmakers realize they no longer need to stick to references to anything in particular (not that the original exclusively followed espionage-themed flicks).

British superspy Austin Powers (Mike Myers) is enjoying his honeymoon with new bride Vanessa (Elizabeth Hurley) when he discovers, quite suddenly, that she’s a kamikaze Fembot assigned by nemesis Dr. Evil (also Mike Myers) to destroy the secret agent. Meanwhile, a NATO monitoring facility in Guam confirms the return of the pasty-faced madman. Although Vanessa fails, Austin is saddened by the instantaneous, explosive loss of his wife. That is, until he realizes he’s now single once again.

Dr. Evil, aided by Number Two (Robert Wagner), Frau Farbissina (Mindy Sterling), and a 1/8th sized clone called Mini Me (Verne Troyer), plots a new plan to travel back in time (with a handy time machine) to the swingin’ ’60s to steal Austin’s mojo from his cryogenically frozen body. Fortunately, the Ministry of Defense also has a time machine, and can send the newly mojo-less Powers back to his own pad in 1969 to regain his lost secret weapon. At his side is highly skilled CIA Agent Felicity Shagwell (Heather Graham) – and targeting him is a bevy of hopelessly inept assassins.

Although a car chase and a few spy movie tropes do briefly appear (including a “Moonraker” styled space-bound climax), the humor and plot have shifted toward self-reflexive jabs and unrelated asides. The sexual innuendo is back (an erotic game of chess is somewhat fresh) and still largely effective, but the repetitiousness of jokes from the first film start to lose their hilarity. Photoshoot nonsense, musical cavorting montages, the hushing up of Dr. Evil’s son Scott (Seth Green), the reappearance of Mustafa (Will Ferrell), the silly catchphrases, and routine bits of slapstick return, stretching out the story with numerous sequences (particularly with Mini Me) that are unavoidably extraneous and simply not very funny. However, the creation of disgruntled Scottish guard Fat Bastard (the third part played by Myers, now in full Jerry Lewis/Peter Sellers/Eddie Murphy schtick, with makeup effects by Stan Winston) is visually unforgettable, highlighted by an outrageous stool sample analyzation gag that is most certainly not in good taste.

– Mike Massie

 

 



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