At the movies: 'Austin Powers in Goldmember'

Posted: Thursday, August 08, 2002

''Austin Powers in Goldmember'' is the ''Wayne's World 2'' of the spy-spoof franchise, another humdrum Mike Myers sequel that has no reason to exist, that phones it in, that's a faint shadow of its predecessors.

Pretty much every cliche to ridicule a sequel applies here.

The idea of another shagadelic romp with Myers' swinging refugee from the '60s espionage set is appealing enough. The idea of Destiny's Child singer Beyonce Knowles as an attitude-laden update of the '70s blaxploitation heroine is groovy. The idea of Michael Caine as Austin's neglectful super-spy father is really groovy. The idea of Myers adding one more character to his ''Austin Powers'' pantheon merits a ''yeah, baby.'' But the movie rates an ''ouch, very ouch, baby.''

It's terribly unfunny most of the time, constantly repeating its own lame gags and lethargically regurgitating some of the best bits from the previous two films.

Knowles is fine as Austin's new comrade in arms, a sassy, brassy chick who takes no guff from anyone. Caine mainly fizzles, delivering one very funny line but having little else to do but stand around looking like an older, slightly constipated version of Austin.

And Myers' new villain, Goldmember, is an irritant, creepy to look at (without being amusing), speaking in a disagreeable ''Dutch'' accent (without being amusing) and practicing a truly disgusting bodily habit (without being amusing).

Considering Goldmember's a parody of one of James Bond's best nemeses, Myers and co-writer Michael McCullers needed to come up with something more substantive (and amusing) for the character than their oft-repeated line about a ''smelting accident'' that redefined Goldmember's manhood.

A 1970s disco owner, Goldmember teams with Austin's archenemy Dr. Evil (Myers) on a plan to destroy Earth using a giant meteor made of gold. The usual suspects are back in the villains' camp, pretty much doing the same old thing: Robert Wagner as Number Two, Seth Green as Scott Evil, Mindy Sterling as Frau Farbissina and Verne Troyer as Mini Me. And of course, Fat Bastard (Myers again).

Austin takes another time-travel jaunt to 1975 to rescue his dad, legendary agent Nigel Powers (Caine). While there, Austin hooks up with old flame Foxxy Cleopatra (Knowles), a spy working undercover in Goldmember's disco.

Michael York returns as Austin's boss, and joining the cast as a double agent is Fred Savage, the unfortunate object of one of the movie's lamest and most repetitive gags. The main reason to see ''Goldmember'' is the wealth of big-name celebrity cameos.

The movie opens promisingly with a batch of major, major star walk-ons. After that, ''Austin Powers'' goes into a freeze deeper than the 30 years of suspended animation the title character underwent in the original movie.

There's barely a chuckle for the next 45 minutes as Austin and Foxxy lumber through bad slapstick and dull dialogue. A string of sight gags finally click late in the game, but that handful of laughs can't resuscitate the movie.

It's hard to fault director Jay Roach, returning for his third ''Austin Powers'' flick and managing at least to keep things nicely in motion considering the weak material. The problem is the underheated leftovers that make up the screenplay, and that comes right back to Myers' door.

In case anyone's thinking of a fourth ''Austin Powers'' movie, Myers should exercise his license to kill this franchise and save his once fresh and flighty character from devolving into an international man of misery.

''Austin Powers in Gold-member,'' a New Line Cinema release, is rated PG-13 for sexual innuendo, crude humor and language. Running time: 95 minutes. Two stars out of four (rating that highly only for the celebrity cameos).

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Motion Picture Association of America rating definitions:

G -- General audiences. All ages admitted.

PG -- Parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

PG-13 -- Special parental guidance strongly suggested for children under 13. Some material may be inappropriate for young children.

R -- Restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

NC-17 -- No one under 17 admitted.



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