Austin Powers in Goldmember

Gen X Review Austin PowersI hate Austin Powers.

I hate his stupid suits and his faux English accent and his dumb, tacky catch phrases. I detest the way the Union Jack is splattered over everything this jerk owns as though it’s his personal signature. Powers is relentlessly tiresome, like the Energizer Bunny or that MCI nerd with the cell phone. It’s like being trapped in a Toys R’ Us with one of those annoying brats who needs to pull every trigger of every cheap rat-ta-ta-tat machine gun over and over again.

“Hey Baby!” he says. “Groovy, baby,” he snarls insipidly. “Shagadellic, baby--”

Yes, we get it: Austin Powers is from the 1960s. He calls everyone baby, because he’s from that era. He’s a bag if clichés and it’s funny, you see, because he doesn’t understand how stupid he sounds.

“Oh yeah,” he says, grinning until all ten feet of his big, yellow teeth emerge from behind his lips, “drink Pepsi, baby!”

Yep, I hate Powers -- but the new film Goldmember isn’t too awful. Less a cohesive film than a collection of mostly amusing scenes in search of a central plot or at least a sustainable joke, the newest Austin Powers film is everything you’d expect from exposure to the first two movies in the series. It adds another couple characters to the Myers pantheon, diluting the Austin Powers in the film (which I appreciate) but it feels like it could use a little dialysis.

Austin Powers (Mike Myers ) is a super spy extrodinair, with a groovy pad and high-visibility Union Jack Jaguar convertible, but when he’s knighted by the queen of England and his dad doesn’t even SHOW UP it becomes apparent that the guy has got some major daddy issues.

Matters degenerate when Powers’ arch enemy, Dr. Evil (Mike Myers, again), and a 1970s disco villain named Goldmember (Yes, it’s Myers) combine forces and kidnap Austin’s dad, played by someone who is not Mike Myers. Powers pursues the villains back to 1975, where he enlists the help of Foxxy Cleopatra -- also played by someone other than Mike Myers, though I’m sure he considered the part -- a former lover an CIA agent, to help get his dad back...

But forget this, since the real plot involves Dr. Evil’s plan to use a tractor beam to pull down a huge asteroid made of pure gold. He tries to hold the world hostage...

No, forget that, too, since the really important part of the film is the odd subplot involving the mysterious origins of Dr. Evil and how he and Austin...

Hmm, no, that’s not it, either...

Goldmember is mostly a very loose collection of skits and celebrity cameos. Taken this way, it’s not a bad film, though it is certainly no Moby Dick or even Dick Tracy. The film’s physical comedy is probably the only place it outshines a SNL bit. It may not be Shakespeare, but Goldmember’s juvenile attraction to pee pees, fart humor and BO is contagious. Films like this remind you of when bodily functions were funny and not just mildly unpleasant.

The humor is often of the repetitive, obsessive or irritating variety, but the good gags -- like one involving a shadowplay where Austin appears to have very unusual, er, parts -- are clever, if not exactly hilarious.

Goldmember himself is, well, not very funny. He lost his genitalia is “an unfortunate smelting accident,” roller skates and eats his own flaking skin. Dr. Evil is much more interesting than Powers, but so much about these characters has become codified that they really don’t have much life left in them.

Fat Bastard (played by some guy named Myers or something...) also reappears, for those who thought he was the high point of the last Austin Powers’ film. A grosser, less appealing obese person has not appeared since David Lynch’s Dune, but I’m sure kids will think the Scottish fat man is a riot. It’s funny when fat people make fun of themselves, rub their breasts obscenely and, well, break wind, isn’t it.

Isn’t it?

(Your answer is an indication of how much you would enjoy the film -- baby.)


Add comment

Security code

Want another opinion? Roger Ebert is one of my favorite reviewers and a personal hero.

Interested in hearing more? Download the eBook bound to change your life for $2.50 by clicking here!

Buy Now