Cast: Mike Myers, Michael Caine, Beyonce Knowles, Seth Green
Director: Jay Roach
Nutshell: Third installment of 60’s 70’s spoof has long run out of gas and charm
Over the years one could usually rely on London’s prestigious entertainment guides to point one toward the decent and warn against wasting time on the dire. First there used to be the dull but fairly efficient What’s On and then for the last twenty odd years or even more (how time flies) one has more or less relied on the Time Out guide to do the job. However with the review that Time Out produced for the film Austin Powers in Goldmember was not only blasphemous but also so horribly misleading that the guide’s reputation has taken a huge knocking – in our eyes at any rate. However, TO is not the only one to blame as the normally sane Guardian also appeared to suffer a momentary lapse of reason when it also glowed about a film that turned out to be a nothing more than one long and particularly odious fart. TO claims that the film elevates Mike Myers to the level of “Peter Sellers at his peak” while the Guardian claims that the film is by many a mile more visually exciting, interesting, intelligent (!) than anything on display so far in the summer of 2002.
Not only does that suggest that mainstream Hollywood has reached the bottom of a very deep barrel but also that reviewers can also suffer some highly serious post 9/11 lapses. To even compare the admittedly inconsistent genius of Sellers with the infantile antics of Myers in this film is nothing short of sacrilege. Just recall the telephone conversation scene when Sellers playing a typically imbecilic US president calls on his equally demented counterpart in the brilliant Dr. Strangelove and then try to come to terms with Mike Myers own brand of dubious comedy which basically relies on a succession of jokes connected invariably to the biological functions of the digestive system; in other words a stream of gags which rely on excrement.
The charm of the first movie had already evaporated by the time the first dire sequel came about and those of us who had hoped that perhaps Myers brand of humour had taken a turn for the better are to be horribly disappointed if they, like us, are deceived into believing that this is a movie worth spending one’s precious money and time on. A rather depressing pointer to the evolving tastes of modern youth was the fact that the atrocious Spy Who Shagged Me was a massive success all over the western world. I recall straining at my watch in a NYC cinema praying and hoping that the film would draw to a conclusion sooner rather than later………this was about ten minutes into the film! In fact the agony became so acute by the time the end credits rolled that I found myself fleeing the theatre prematurely wondering if the ageing process had indeed turned me into a sour puss was totally incapable of having a laugh. However having watched the equally mainstream Heartbreakers recently one felt that all was not yet lost for American humour and that there was still hope for those of us who cringed through every moment of Spy Who Shagged Me. However, having read the absolutely glowing tributes paid to this latest episode of the franchise one was effectively duped by normally intelligent reviewers into wasting precious time (and money) on an experience that was about as much fun as taking a crap!
What a huge let down this film turned out to be, and worse, I found myself forcing myself to try to chuckle along, perhaps because the majority of the audience was guffawing out so loud there was a certain element of peer pressure to react the same way. However, there can be no denying that this was a dire film – puerile and made to appeal to brain-dead morons and Americans who forever find amusement in the antics of their English cousins, whether it be the devotion to tea or their cockney dialect. Also, how many times can you actually milk the same joke…….once, twice maybe, but not for two successive movies surely. Apart from the mildly amusing opening sequence which pooled in various star cameos there was nothing to relish. Myers was as stale as the joke he was playing for the umpteenth time and his script, for which he is largely responsible is a rehash of his own Saturday Nite Live skits. Michael Caine, playing Powers Snr. is on autopilot.
After being so vicious about this movie one ought to at least strive for a little “balance” just so that one can attempt to ward off the hate mail that one anticipates from the legions of fans of the film. Ms. Beyonce Knowles of Destiny’s Child plays her role as Foxxy Brown as well as could be expected, yet it is a role lacking in any substance. The scene where she uses Nathan Lane as a decoy is one of the marginally amusing scenes of the wretched film. Tom Cruise, Gwenyth Paltrow (who was looking as though old age and a pension book are just around the corner), Britney Spears, Steven Spielberg, Danny de Vito, Quincy Jones (since when did he become an internationally recognizable star?) and numerous others make brief appearances that are the highpoints of a incredibly crass affair. Myers himself is tolerable (if only just) as Powers while his various aliases are at least as painful as in the previous film. Fat Bastard manages to remain as unfunny as he had been in the previous film and Dr. Evil and his antics are tortuously insufferable. The new Myers character Goldmember is possibly the least funny of all his “personalities” relying on humour that even the (in)famously racist BBC show Mind Your Language would have cringed at. Perhaps the most appalling moment of a irredeemably hideous 90 minutes occurs when Mini-Me (who should be locked away somewhere with Jar Jar) removes his pants to show some idiot his genitalia……..fortunately, the audience was spared this ultimate horror. What a dreadfully lamentable experience this was and to think that supposedly normal, literate people could somehow contrive to guffaw out loud to this shite speaks volumes for the fact that I have surely become far too old and staid to be even remotely amused or excited by drivel, erm, comedy of this kind.
Perhaps this review is extra vicious due to the fact that the Guardian and Time Out had rolled out the superlatives for it……and I for one feel duped. Now what remains to be seen is how many zillions of dollars will roll in ( $70m plus in the first weekend alone in the US) and how long it will take for the beleaguered Warner-AOL to announce yet another bowel movement in the shape of another sequel. Poor Peter Sellers must be turning in his grave having been likened to the retarded level humour that this film presents. At least us sourpusses arent in an exclusive club of our own as Cosmo Landesman of the Sunday Times magazine awarded the film an almost unheard of “no stars” calling the film “an MTV guide to English ness for the pimply, pleasure-seeking youth of America”. Michael Caine as Austin’s father has virtually made a living out of sleepwalking on autopilot mode and here he does little more than a job and collect his pay check. If you loved The Spy Who Shagged Me, then you won’t be disappointed.