Austin Powers in Goldmember Review
By Joe Lozito
What used to be a modest spoof of 60s spy movies has become a strange amalgam of self-referential and scatological humor. In "Austin Powers in Goldmember" if a character is not breaking wind, he is probably winking at the camera about another character that just did. And more than likely, of course, the character in question is played by Mike Myers, the evil - and at times hysterical - genius behind this third entry in the Powers saga. Mr. Myers adds the title character to his litany of alert-egos; unfortunately the inspiration for the character seems to have ended with his name.
Mr. Myers learns from the successes and failures of his previous efforts. Like AP2, "Goldmember" spends most of its time with the infinitely entertaining Dr. Evil. What used to be a sly Lorne Michaels impression has become an excuse for Mr. Myers to simply act really really silly. Director Jay Roach doesn't help matters any by leaving the camera stationary in a long-shot of what amounts to a "stage" on which to allow this most benign super-villain to frolic.
Surprisingly often, this scattershot approach to comedy works. One of the few new gags (and I say "new" simply because it wasn't in the previous films, not because it's original) involves a character with a distractingly large mole on his face. Mr. Myers' hysterical, stammering inability to control himself from yelling "mole!" made the character a welcome addition to any scene.
Also stirring things up are Beyonce Knowles and the erstwhile Michael Caine. Ms. Knowles, from Destiny's Child, makes a charming screen debut as blaxploitation parody Foxy Cleopatra. She easily beats Heather Graham and perhaps even Elizabeth Hurley as the best Powers girl (a dubious distinction, I know). Unlike the previous two co-stars, Ms. Knowles has an effortless cool that nicely compliments her "you under arrest, sugar" tag-line. Mr. Caine, meanwhile, is perfectly cast as Austin's father, Nigel Powers. His presence almost adds a note of credibility to the proceedings, particularly in a subtitled scene of cockney nonsense. Sadly, Mr. Myers has packed the script so full of characters and gags that Ms. Knowles and Mr. Caine are woefully underused (though, not quite as badly as Robert Wagner, reprising his role as "Number Two" in about as many scenes).
By essentially throwing out any notion of plot, Mr. Myers and co-writer Michael McCullers have to keep the gags coming fast and furious. And they do for the most part. Still, it's hard to fill 90 minutes purely with fart jokes and the seams do show. As usual, Mr. Myers is having the time of his life on screen, and it's fun while it lasts. But as soon as it's over, you'll forget why you were laughing to begin with.