Review - Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me

Falls Prey to the Flaws of Many Sequels, Repeating Familiar Jokes Instead of Doing Something New.

The second AUSTIN POWERS film falls prey to one pitfall of sequels: the new story (a time travel premise has Austin return to his beloved '60s era) hasn't nearly the overall potential of the first film's fish-out-of-water approach, so the sequel works more on a scene-by-scene basis, and sometimes it seems as if those scenes have been contrived merely to repeat jokes that worked in the first film (for example, Dr. Evil made a ridiculously low blackmail demand in the first film; he makes a ridiculously high demand in this one). On the other hand, one could argue that the film is doing a parody of the conventions apparent in most sequels, playing off audience expectations by doing variations on familiar material. In any case, most of what was good the first time around is back, and many of the new gags are hysterically funny (including a hysterical encounter between Dr. Evil and Jerry Springer).

The film deserves some kind of credit for having Austin Powers (Mike Myers, very funny) drive himself cross-eyed while trying to resolve the time travel paradox, which leads to Basil Exposition (Michael York) telling him (and the audience) to forget all that and just enjoy the ride. Also, two montage sequences exhaust almost every euphemism for the word "penis:" every time someone is about to say the dreaded p-word, the film cuts to a new scene that begins with someone saying "Willie" to Willie Nelson or "Woody" to Woody Harrelson, which then leads to another scene, and another, until you think the sequence can't possibly build anymore -- and then, amazingly, it does. This is a very clever use of the cinematic form to create something genuinely funny out of a joke that could have been merely juvenile. Too bad the plot linking all these scenes together is so lame, but that only makes this the perfect film for home video, where you can fast-forward to the good stuff and skip the crap (unfortunately, that last word is not a metaphor).

AUSTIN POWERS: THE SPY WHO SHAGGED ME (1999). Director: Jay Roach. Writers: Mike Myers & Michael McCullers. Cast: Mike Myers, Heather Graham, Michael York, Robert Wagner, Rob Lowe, Seth Green

Steve Biodrowski, Administrator

A graduate of USC film school, Steve Biodrowski has worked as a film critic, journalist, and editor at Movieline, Premiere, Le Cinephage, The Dark Side., Cinefantastique magazine, Fandom.com, and Cinescape Online. He is currently Managing Editor of Cinefantastique Online and owner-operator of Hollywood Gothique.