Posted: 08/18/1999

 

Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me

(1999)

by Jon Bastian



Sure, it’ll make a fortune, but the only ones who get shagged in this lame sequel are the audience…


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There are two extremely funny moments in AUSTIN POWERS: THE SPY WHO SHAGGED ME. Unfortunately, they come toward the end of the film, and both are the same moment. Now, while they are legitimately hilarious, the humor was still marred by editing that was, if you’ll pardon the expression, constantly a beat off.

Hm. Come to think of it, beating off is a good metaphor for what the writers must have been doing when they came up with this sequel — the result being random, disconnected spatters on the page that make for intermittently interesting moments, but add up to nothing but stains. To compound the annoyance, while there’s a time travel element to the story, it doesn’t matter whether events we see are taking place in 1999 or 1969. Anachronisms abound. Characters who shouldn’t know anything of our time spout 90s catchphrases. Worse, the filmmakers missed a perfect opportunity in having the president of the US as a character. C’mon, guys. Richard Nixon ring any bells? The current flick “Dick” gets an entire movie out of Old Tricky. The Austin Powers filmmakers weren’t even sharp enough to catch on. Instead, they blow it by giving us Tim Robbins as a bland pseudo-JFK who doesn’t even do anything funny. A total waste of talent. Another example of how asleep at the switch Myers and company were: there wasn’t a single “sixty-nine” joke, despite the tone of the film and the destination of the time travel.

Ah, yes. The time travel. The original Austin Powers was also a time travel film of the suspended animation variety — but there was a comedic purpose to the time hopping. Swinger Austin Powers had to confront the neo-puritanical 90s, while Dr. Evil learned that corporate evil was more profitable than the entrepreneurial kind. This made for a fun, double fish-out-of-water story. In Spy Who Shagged Me, it doesn’t matter which decade we’re in, and so the fish-out-of-water humor goes right down the toilet.

I should also add that, for the sake of a couple of jokes, (and a possible scheduling difficulty on the part of an actress) several realities from the first film are, well, not just abandoned, but utterly trashed. The most heinous example regards the conception of Scott Evil. Now, I’m perfectly willing to accept that his birth was the result of a fling in the past by Dr. Evil and not the artificial insemination mentioned in the first film. However, no one seemed to notice that, if that fling happened thirty years ago, Scott Evil is obviously too young to be the result. Was anybody paying attention here? Doubt it…

If you were paying attention, here’s the story, in a nutshell: Dr. Evil (Mike Myers), in cryogenic suspension since the end of the last film, gets ejected out his space-faring Bob’s Big Boy’s ass, does the Jerry Springer show with his son, Scott (a very underused Seth Green and, face it, there can never be enough Seth Green. What a little hottie. Woof!). Dr. Evil reunites with his staff of baddies, including the now happily out Frau Farbissina (the always fabulous Mindy Sterling, whose last name truly suits her talents). Dr. Evil lectures them all about the stupidity of trying to actually kill Austin Powers — that’s not “evil” enough — then announces his plan to go back in time and steal Austin’s “mojo.” All well and good, except that Dr. Evil’s explanation of his refusal to kill Austin outright is followed almost immediately by a scene in which one of Evil’s female minions confesses that she was sent to (wait for it) kill Austin, but finds him too sexy to slaughter. Excuse me? Never mind this scene’s raisons d’etre are a few risqué jokes and 3rd Rock from the Sun’s Kristen Johnston done up as a Russian slutsky with lips that put Lisa Rinna to shame. Credibility and Consistency? Nah…

Meanwhile, Dr. Evil goes back to 1969, where all of his minions are somehow expecting his arrival, and is then followed by (apparently) the entire 1999 cast of the film. He uses a spy, Fat Bastard (also Myers), to steal Austin’s mojo, while 1960s Austin is helpless in suspended animation. (Side note: if there’s ever an Academy Award for grossest make-up effect, Fat Bastard, the entire metric ton of him, wins it for all time. Period.) Did I mention the complete waste of Heather Graham as CIA Agent Felicity Shagwell? A great talent and a true beauty, but not much more than a fashion model for Carnaby Street revisited here. Then there’s that dwarf guy — you’ve seen the commercials, you’ve seen the character. A funny sight gag, but would someone in Hollywood please put a little person like Verne Troyer in a real role? It can be done — see Billy Barty in “Day of the Locust.” I’ve seen Troyer in interviews, and he’s a funny, articulate, interesting person. Sorry. Actor. Want proof? He doesn’t say a single word in this film, but makes you care about him by the end.

This is more than I can say about the movie. Other than the aforementioned hilarious moment at the end, which were really nothing more than a series of clever dick jokes, there’s nothing here to recommend. Rent or buy the original Austin Powers and hope and pray that there isn’t a Part III — at least not if it’s given the same slapdash, “cash our checks and run” treatment as this installment.

Jon Bastian is a native and resident of Los Angeles and is a playwright and screenwriter who works in the TV trade to keep his dog rolling in kibble.



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