Studio/distributor: New Line
Rated PG-13 for sexual innuendo and crude humor.
the original "Austin Powers" was released in 1997,
it didn't make that great deal of an impression and was never
really expected to, but it garnered many positive reviews,
had low drop-off box-office rates each week, and became a
pop-culture phenomenon once it hit video stores. Now we have
"Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me," which will
be sure to go down as one of the few sequels to do better
financially than its predecessor (if the sold-out crowd I
saw it with is any indication). The terms, "Yeah, baby,
yeah!" and "let's shag, baby," have been ingrained
in most moviegoers' minds due to the original, and when was
the last time a movie created its own vernacular, and audiences
off to a brisk, but disappointing start, this film continues
where the first left off, with Austin Powers (Mike Myers)
and Vanessa Kensington (Elizabeth Hurley) on their romantic
honeymoon. Within five minutes time, it is discovered that
Vanessa was a dreaded fembot all along, a henchman of Dr Evil's
(Myers). Realizing he's a single man again, Austin doesn't
take too much time grieving before he learns that Dr. Evil
has created a time machine, gone back to 1969 when Austin
was cryogenically frozen, and stolen his "mojo."
In hot pursuit, Austin time travels back to the swingin' '60s
himself, meets up with beautiful and "randy" CIA
agent Felicity Shagwell (Heather Graham), and together they
set out to get his "mojo" back. But that's not all,
as Dr. Evil also is plotting to destroy Washington, D.C. if
his demands (several billion dollars) aren't met.
Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me" has, thankfully, created
the same atmosphere that the mildly successful first one set
up. From the first frame to the last, it is apparent that
we've stepped back into the world of Austin Powers, but that
doesn't mean that the new movie is as good, and it isn't.
For one thing, the whole prologue is a gigantic betrayal of
both Austin Powers fans and Elizabeth Hurley. Making her turn
out to be a fembot will, from now on, seriously put a damper
on the way people watch the original, because now we know
that she didn't even actually care about him at all, but was
on the "evil side." It also creates a noticably
large plot hole: If Vanessa Kensington was a fembot, then
her mother, Mrs. Kensington (played by Mimi Rogers in the
original), also had to have been, and this little fact is
not dealt with at all in the uneven screenplay, by Mike Myers
and Michael McCullers. If Hurley didn't want to appear for
more than a brief cameo, the filmmakers surely could have
thought of a stronger way for her to go out.
watching "Austin Powers" right before I saw its
sequel, I noticed another downfall. While the first one was
not hilarious, it was light, charming, and occasionally funny.
In "The Spy Who Shagged Me," there might be some
bigger laughs (the sure-to-be-classic "tent scene"
comes to mind), but there are also just as many jokes that
fall astoundingly flat, and others that are merely recycled.
The film has opted for the "everything-but-the-kitchen-sink"
approach, and in doing so, has forgotten about all of the
returning characters who, in essence, are nothing more than
extended cameos. Seth Green, as Dr. Evil's misunderstood son,
Scott, comes close to breaking out into his own person (especially
when he appears on a Jerry Springer episode, entitled "My
Father is Evil and Wants to Take Over the World"), but
there is no payoff. Robert Wagner, as another of Dr. Evil's
henchmen, Number 2, has all of one scene, until Dr. Evil goes
back in time and the role is taken over by the younger Rob
Lowe (who does a killer impression of Wagner). Mindy Sterling
has a few nice moments as assistant Frau Farbissina who, midway
through, has a steamy affair with Dr. Evil, and later shares
an uncomfortable moment with him by the coffee machine.
new characters are a memorable, if underused, bunch. Taking
over the romantic interest role from Hurley, Heather Graham
is energetic and has proven to be a fine actress (see 1997's "Boogie Nights" or 1989's "Drugstore Cowboy"
for proof), but here doesn't get to stretch her acting muscles,
and her relationship with Austin feels a little more forced
than that of Vanessa and he. The bright spot in the film is
Mini Me (Verne J. Troyer), a clone of Dr. Evil, only 1/8 his
size. Troyer is often hysterical and even cute, and his relationship
with Dr. Evil is actually a sweet one. Going for a "Nutty
Professor"/Eddie Murphy type of deal, Myers has given
himself a third role, as Fat Bastard, a repugnant Scot who
weighs a "metric ton" and, at one point, has a disgusting
roll in the hay with one of the female characters. In the
wasted department are the two femme fatales, Ivana Humpalot
(Kristen Johnston) and Robin "maiden-name's-Spits" Swallows (Gia Carides), who show up, do their thang, and quickly
course, in the forefront of the whole operation is Mike Myers,
who is comic dynamite and doesn't disappoint. Much of the
joy that comes from watching Myers (whether it be as Austin
or Wayne) is actually watching him. He clearly has a great
love for performing, and especially for his Powers character,
and his talent only shines through more when considering all
of the different roles he plays here. You know going in that
Dr. Evil is also played by Myers, but while watching him,
it's easy to forget such a thing because of how utterly convincing
With "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me," what you
see is what you get. There is certainly no deep meanings behind
anything that occurs within the 95-minute running time, and
it has a fast pace so your mind won't wander too much. The
fact that a third "Austin Powers" movie will probably
be coming out at this time in 2001 is a given, but after seeing
his second adventure, you have to wonder how many times the
same jokes can be played out before they start to overstay
their welcome. Having Austin say "yeah, baby, yeah!" was amusing the first time around, but it isn't here. And
judging from this not-bad, but lackluster first sequel, Myers
should start brainstorming his ideas now for the next installment.
A little bit of variety and originality may very well come
in handy in the future.