Wednesday, July 31, 2002

Austin Powers in Goldmember

Posted By on Wed, Jul 31, 2002 at 12:00 AM

Yeah, baby! Austin Powers in Goldmember is a hilarious happening, yeah! It’s that smashingly magical “International Man of Mystery” tour, baby, with most of the groovy scenes, lads, birds and comic trips from before. But behave! There’s much more, baby! Goldmember overstuffs the Austin Powers (Mike Myers) bag with more cameos and more Dr. Evil (Myers again). That talented Myers chap plays even more outrageous characters. It’s bigger, baby: bigger stars, bigger musical numbers, bigger crazy action, bigger laughs — and a bigger gold “tallywhacker.” But as Austin’s dear old dad, Britain’s No. 1 secret agent, Nigel Powers (Michael Caine, Miss Congeniality), schools his lad: “It’s not the size, mate. It’s how you use it.” And though Goldmember still keeps the “fun” in family dysfunction, it just doesn’t work its romantic comedy mojo like its predecessors.

Austin’s mission, like that of any superspy worthy of the title, is saving the world (again) from the evil super-genius du jour. But Dr. Evil, of course (at least up to this movie), seems to have a certain amount of job security as the “head of a worldwide evil organization with aspirations of world domination” and as our secret agent’s nemesis. Evil (Goldmember reveals both his given name … and his rap name) strikes back with another mad plan erected around another phallic weapon of global destruction. As in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999), the doctor gives the project a designation that his troubled teen son, Scott Evil (Seth Green) finds patently ridiculous — along with the rest of us.

Evil, genius that he is, doesn’t possess all of the technical skill required to make his new doomsday machine perform its catastrophic duty. He transports a fellow mad mastermind, Johann Vandersmoot (Myers yet again, in a new role), on board from 1975, the golden age of disco.

Vandersmoot, with his “freaky-deaky Dutch” accent, is an odd disco duck in the Austin Powers bestiary of psychedelically satirical national stereotypes. After losing his “wedding tackle” (as Austin calls it) in a smelting accident, Vandersmoot dons an oversized 24-carat prosthetic penis and becomes Goldmember. He joins the likes of the mysteriously Belgian Dr. Evil and his severe Eva Braun, the cartoonishly Nazi-like Frau Farbissina (Mindy Sterling). Then there’s that metric ton of lethally tempered Scottish corpulence girded in a kilt, an ogre known only as Fat Bastard (Myers).

Any Austin Powers fan knows that all supervillains need a cover operation. Goldmember’s 1975 front is a Manhattan disco, Studio 69. Goldmember is the aging yet impossibly limber dancing king of his Midas-touched realm, gliding across the floor on roller clogs with a train of his gilded roller girls behind him.

Foxxy Cleopatra (Beyoncé Knowles of Destiny’s Child), an ingénue knockoff of Pam Grier’s ’70s blaxplotation film heroines, is his singing nubile Nubian queen. Or so he thinks. Foxxy is actually an FBI agent like Shagged Me’s Felicity Shagwell (Heather Graham). She’s working undercover. When Powers makes the scene, he’s a blast from the future. Foxxy remembers a “taste of honey” she had with the randy Austin. But after eight years and no calls, his mojo has its work cut out for it.

Of course Powers, “irresistible to women,” prevails. The “ultimate gentleman spy” is soon back on the job for Queen and country in 2002 to save the world, rescue his legendary dad and redeem Goldmember’s melodramatic — and shocking — father-and-son relationships with gross gags and Foxxy Cleopatra at his side.

And that’s where she stays. Though Knowles’ Cleopatra may be the most “shagedelic” Powers girl yet, he never pops his trademark question to her: “Are you getting randy, baby?” Dad and even Mini-Me (Verne Troyer), Evil’s 1/8th scale clone, give the sista some play. But Austin only reveals his “sexy beast” to Japanese twins with names that make those of previous Powers girls, like “Alotta Fagina” (a true-to-form parody of Goldfinger’s Bond girl “Pussy Galore”), seem modest. The Powers-Cleopatra match seems a knowing and radically mutated spoof of the interracial love story of Mission: Impossible II, so Meyers and company shouldn’t expect an audience squeamish of a good chocolate-vanilla shag. Perhaps they were wise not to tax the novice actress’ skills with something as advanced and fragile as romantic comedy.

But to paraphrase one of Dr. Evil’s catchphrases, let me throw Austin Powers in Goldmember a frickin’ bone. Even though it’s lost its romantic mojo, Austin’s bag is still full of laughs, baby.

James Keith La Croix writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com.

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