The “Austin Powers” franchise is probably the only movies I know of where the plot is irrelevant from the very start. 1999’s “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me” turned a minor success (the original movie) into a highly profitable series. Sporting enough product tie-ins and ads to choke a family of Mustangs, “Spy” brings back star/writer/creator Mike Myers as the international man of mystery, Austin Powers, to once again battle his nemesis, the world domination seeking Dr. Evil (also Myers).
Besides Powers and Evil, Myers also plays an obscenely obese character name Fat Bastard, who is, I believe, some sort of Scottish henchman working for Dr. Evil, and who has a taste for eating babies. Fat Bastard’s most famous line is shouting, “Get into my belly!” at his would-be dinners. Not surprisingly, the film’s funniest moments involve Myers as either Dr. Evil or Fat Bastard. To be honest, I wish there was more of Fat Bastard, who just brings down the screen with his “I’m so sexy” act. Can this guy possibly get any funnier? (The answer is Yes, leading to Fat Bastard making a terrific return in the third “Austin Powers” installment, “Goldmember”.)
Stepping into the babe role formerly held by Elizabeth Hurley in the original is Heather Graham (“The Guru”), as a sexy American CIA agent. Graham spends most of the movie looking lost as an actor but very loose in revealing clothes. Graham still can’t act, but that’s beside the point as she’s just eye candy. Her presence is meant to provide a counter balance to the Godawful appearance of Austin Powers, who despite being considered super sexy in the series is of course not very visually appealing, bad teeth notwithstanding.
Plot-wise, Dr. Evil decides to go into the past using a time machine in order to steal Austin Powers’ mojo. Whatever the heck a “mojo” is is laughed off as silly plot nonsense, which of course it is. In a funny bit, Dr. Evil goes on Jerry Springer with son Scott (Seth Green), and the duo gets into a brawl with some Ku Klux Klansmen. Some other chuckles come from spirited exchanges between the wry Scott, who thinks his father is a total idiot, and Dr. Evil, who doesn’t think Scott is quite evil enough. Verne Troyer became a household name playing a Dr. Evil clone name Mini-Me. (Actually Mini-Me became a household name, not the name of the guy playing him.)
“The Spy Who Shagged Me” is pretty funny, but I laughed more during “Goldmember”. (Notice that I don’t rate the laughter quotient of the original, mostly because I don’t quite remember its contents.) Austin’s many scenes with Graham’s Felicity Shagwell are duds, and the film really loses a lot of steam by indulging in the silly romance angle. Of note is Will Ferrell (“Saturday Night Live”) who shows up briefly as one of Dr. Evil’s hitman, a bumbling buffoon who never quite dies as expected.
Like Mike Myers, director Jay Roach is synonymous with the franchise, having directed all 3 installments. Roach’s other notable credit is the Robert De Niro comedy “Meet the Parents”. Guesses are, there will be another “Austin Powers”, and even a fifth. And why not? The films are reasonably cheap to make since the cheap-looking special effects and sets are cheap-looking on purpose. And since Mike Myers plays pretty much all the important roles anyway, all he and director Jay Roach needs is another pretty up and coming actress to step into the babe role.
The only question is, how many more products can the filmmakers shove into the background before the whole movie explodes from product placement? I guess we’ll find out when the next “Austin Powers” movie comes out.
Jay Roach (director) / Mike Myers, Michael McCullers (screenplay)
CAST: Mike Myers….Austin Powers/Dr. Evil/Fat Bastard
Heather Graham …. Felicity Shagwell
Michael York …. Basil Exposition
Seth Green …. Scott Evil
Verne Troyer …. Mini-Me