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Digging for Gold


Austin Powers in Goldmember

Jay Roach, USA, 2002

Rating: 2.8



Posted: July 28, 2002

By Laurence Station

1997's Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery seemed the classic one-trick pony. Perform its fish-out-of-water-cum-send-up of British spy movies routine and exit, er, somewhat gracefully. And the titular hero, bad teeth and all, appeared to be well on his way to doing just that, until the video rental sales figures came in and the studio realized it had a long distance, rather than short-legged, thoroughbred on its hands. Hence the first sequel, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999), which stuck closely to the original's time travel concept, frenetically cutting between the swinging, analog '60s and the ironic, digitized '90s.

The franchise's third entry, Austin Powers in Goldmember, makes the logical jump to the disco-era '70s (complete with an exclusive club named Studio 69). All of the principals from the first two films return, with the role of revolving door Powers' female sidekick going to the energetic Beyoncé Knowles as the aptly-named CIA agent Foxxy Cleopatra. Dr. Evil (Mike Myers) has brought a gold-loving Dutchman from 1975 into the present day. Goldmember (also Mike Myers), whose name tells you all you'd want to know about his smelting-accident-modified nether regions, has plans for a giant tractor beam that will guide an asteroid into the polar ice caps, thus covering the entire planet in water. (One fun gag about the Powers' films is that there's never any rhyme or reason for Evil's global threats, save money, which the multi-billionaire clearly doesn't need.)

In a role that could have been exploited far better than it is, Michael Caine appears in what amounts to nothing more than an extended cameo as Austin's father, the legendary original Man of Mystery, Nigel Powers. Fred Savage is also thrown into the mix as a mole planted inside Dr. Evil's organization who (you guessed it) sports a huge mole on his face. Indeed, the majority of the laughs are generated from this one sight gag. A prison rap takeoff of Jay-Z's "Hard Knock Life" by an incarcerated Dr. Evil and Mini-Me (Verne Troyer) proves the film's other inspired moment.

Shocking revelations are made at the end and, planning ahead, the good versus evil roles are set in motion for the inevitable sequels to follow. But after three films, there's not much more the indefatigable role-hopping Myers and director Jay Roach can wring out of the current formula. Assuming the duo does indeed harbor designs on pushing the wildly popular franchise to its absolute, excessive limits, we here at Shaking Through (courtesy of Laurence Station & Kevin F. Moreau) selflessly offer some possible ideas to help move the series beyond the past four decades.

Austin Powers in the Court of Henry the Ate
Myers' corpulent Fat Bastard discovers that he's a direct descendant of Henry VIII (let's just say a certain chambermaid did more than empty the king's bedpans), prompting Dr. Evil to travel back in time, enlisting Bastard's aid in a scheme to alter the course of history and install hapless Scott Evil as ruler of the British Empire. Powers, in a jester's outfit, must rescue his comely sidekick, Dr. Helena Heaving-Bosom (Nicole Kidman), from the guillotine after she becomes Henry's unlucky wife #7.

Austin Powers: Third Reich's the Charm
Austin versus the Nazis! Evil covets the Spear of Destiny, a phallus-shaped mystical artifact last known to be in the possession of Adolf Hitler. Traveling back to the Second World War to get the Spear, Evil forges an alliance with Hitler (Myers, naturally), lending his technological know-how to the Fuhrer's love of the Dark Arts. Evil's trusty henchwoman Frau Farbissina (Mindy Sterling) meets her past self, to whom she's oddly attracted. Powers must join forces with globe-trotting, bullwhip cracking archaeologist Missouri Connie Lundquist (Angelina Jolie).

Austin Powers: Cro-Magnon Force
The dentally-distressed super-spy teams with snarling "Flirty" Larry Magnon (Rutger Hauer), a conflicted homosexual rogue cop who plays by his own rules. The pair uncovers a scheme by which Dr. Evil plans to unleash dinosaurs on the Earth, and the unlikely partners are forced to pop back to the Stone Age, where they introduce two clan leaders (Cheech & Chong) to the wonders of fire (and using said fire to light a certain plentiful herb). Along the way, Powers and his earliest ancestor, troubleshooting Rock Hardplace (Myers), enlist the expertise of noted paleontologist Cassandra Lovebones (Laura Dern).

Austin Powers in The Hunt for Miss Redd Oktober
The titular Russian terrorist and former Soviet beauty queen (Rosanna Arquette) has commandeered a nuclear submarine, and Powers must stop her from delivering it into the hands of Dr. Evil. But the reactor explodes at a key moment, catapulting the adversaries to the High Seas of the 18th century, where Austin and a curvy pirate named Fellatio Hornblower (Catherine Zeta-Jones) race to keep the sub out of the hands of Dr. Evil and his own sub-commanding ally, the Greek scientist and explorer Captain Nero (Myers, again).

Austin Powers in Mooncaper
Galactic warlord Sting the Pitiless (Sting, hamming it up in an eyepatch and goatee) rules the floating planet X, which moves into orbit around the Earth. Sting aims a giant laser at the moon, threatening to blow it into bits and thus create much havoc on Earth unless he is acknowledged as ruler. Thus, Powers and Evil are forced into an uneasy alliance, traveling to the far future with sexy astronaut Flesh Morgan (a pouty Sarah Jessica Parker) to acquire the technological goods necessary to defeat Planet X. Unfortunately, that technology rests in the greedy and self-serving hands of megalomaniac General Evil (Myers), scheming from his exile on Mars to ally with the Martians (straight out of H.G. Wells) to overtake the Solar Hegemony of Allied Globes (S.H.A.G.). The two Evils band together against Powers, who must seek out his own descendent, hot-shot fighter pilot Buck Powers (Myers). Buck's sexy android companion, Tamara T. O'Day (Tiffani Thiessen), creates a love triangle between Austin and Flesh, but the threesome must put aside their differences when Buck is kidnapped by General Evil's henchwoman Solar Plexus (Jennifer Aniston).

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 Ratings Key:
 5.0: A masterpiece
 4.0-4.9: Exceptional

 3.0-3.9: Solid fare

 2.0-2.9: The mediocrities...
 1.1-1.9: Poor
 0.0-1.0: Utter dreck
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