Review

Austin Powers in Goldmember Review

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Jul 26, 2002 | 7:03am EDT

Sell out baby yeah! In the new millennium the international man of mystery has become such a pop culture phenomenon that Hollywood has turned his exploits into a feature film filled with star cameos that the studio has asked us not to reveal. But Austin still finds himself battling foes: his father Nigel Powers (played by Michael Caine) has been kidnapped by an evil Dutchman named Goldmember. Austin enlists the aid of his archnemesis Dr. Evil who's being held in a maximum-security prison to help track down Goldmember who has taken Nigel back in time to 1975. Austin jumps into his pimpmobile/time machine and heads back to the disco era to save his father unaware that Dr. Evil has orchestrated a prison break and is actually in cahoots with Goldmember to take over the world. Austin teams up with former flame Foxxy Cleopatra (Beyoncé Knowles) to rescue his father and save the world yet again. But could Nigel's kidnapping be a ruse to get to Austin? Who knows! The plot of Austin Powers in Goldmember is so convoluted it is practically a side note to the characters' wackiness. Your best bet is to sit back and try to enjoy the ride without focusing too much on inane details--like a storyline.

While Myers portrays all of his characters with daunting finesse (Fat Bastard is just as gross as he ever was) there was perhaps a little too much of them. In fact Myers seems to hog the spotlight. No longer is he the naïve spy trying to shag everyone; this new Austin surfs the Web and barely tries to get into Foxxy's--or anyone else's--pants. Knowles reportedly did a lot of research for the part of Foxxy Cleopatra--watching blaxploitation movies and studying Foxxy's inspiration Pam Grier--all so she could utter a few lines like "You're under arrest sugar " or "Shazam!" Knowles does all right with what she is given and she is less vacuous than Heather Graham was in The Spy Who Shagged Me but the film needs a stronger and more intelligent female lead à la Liz Hurley in the original Austin Powers film. As Scott Evil Seth Green who is renowned for improvising much of his dialogue in this series doesn't get the attention he deserves here. His character is reduced to a groveling loser hungry for his father's love. It would have been nice to see more conflict between Scott and Dr. Evil. In a surprising twist Verne Troyer takes on more than just Mini-Me but I won't spoil it. Suffice it to say he outdoes himself and takes on a more physical role brawling with the big guys.

Maybe the fact that about an hour's worth of footage ended up on the cutting-room floor is to blame for Goldmember's clumsily put together feel. Director Jay Roach has taken a lazy approach with this third Austin Powers installment relying too heavily on cameo appearances and wannabe-hip dance sequences rather than the story itself. Scenes appear to have been randomly spliced together with little cohesiveness and interspersed with one too many musical montages. New characters were introduced at the expense of the beloved core characters here their development thwarted by unsophisticated rivals like Goldmember and The Mole and fluffy pop icons like Britney Spears. Dr. Evil for example has traded his more nefarious side for a goofy one rendering him a silly buffoon without even a trace of menace. Myers has built something wonderful with Austin Powers but perhaps it's time to strip the franchise down to basics and shift the focus back to what made Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery so endearing in the first place: its entire roster of characters--not just the ones portrayed by Myers. It would be great to see another Austin Powers flick but one that doesn't dwell so much on the franchise's success.

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