The third (and for the time-being final) film in the Austin Powers franchise tries hard to give the characters depth for the first time but ultimately fails.
The ‘film-within-a-film’ opening of Goldmember provides a bright, original and comedic start to the movie, unfortunately it soon falls into a mire of poorly performed physical jokes and reusing tired lines from the previous two films.
It is however the sub-plot and ‘emotional core’ of the film that makes it suffer the most though. Whereas the first two films focused on outlandish events and ridiculous characters this film adds more meaningful element to with the introduction of Nigel Powers (Michael Caine) and a ‘father-son’ relationship.
Whilst Nigel Powers isn’t necessarily a bad character and is well performed by Caine as a token old-school British spy, he just feels increasingly out of place when surrounded by the other zany characters of the series. He is too much of a ‘Bond’ to be laughed at and not enough of a presence to allow the audience to relate to him.
Insistent use of flashbacks also hinder this film as we are shown Austin’s ‘Daddy’ issues through several unfunny moments from the past including a scene where Austin and Dr. Evil both attend some sort of Spy Academy together. The entire thing is forced and forgets to include jokes.
The flashbacks and sub-plot are all set up for a dramatic ‘twist’ ending which fails to make an impact in either a comedic or emotional way.
Whilst Goldmember is still a funny film it just goes too far in its attempt to be serious that it forgets where it came from.
The sequel to the original Austin Powers see the franchise move to more ridiculous ground with mixed results.
The Spy Who Shagged Me continues in much the same vein as the first film with the situations and story becoming even more outlandish and the introduction of new characters Mini Me and Fat Bastard and it is this two memorable characters whom I wish to talk about as they epitomize the good and the bad of the series.
Fat Bastard is everything bad about this film. A fat Scottish man who swears, farts and makes A LOT of poop jokes a lot is so low-brow that its sunk to the bottom of the Mariana Trench and still can’t be seen. Just everything about the character is ridiculous in a bad way. Singing ‘I Want my Baby Back Ribs’ for thirty second straight is not a joke in any way… it has no set-up and no punchline and really does nothing to amuse the audience. The entire character is pathetic.
Mini Me on the other hand does so much good for this film – a miniature clone of Dr. Evil is something straight out a Bond film. Some of the best jokes in the film come from the animosity between him and Scott the biological son. Yes Mini Me still provide low-brow humor but it fits well with his character and the fact that he is small just allows him to get away with so much more. The rendition of ‘Just the Two Of Us’ by Dr. Evil and Mini Me is a highlight of the series with their synchronized dance moves and the lyrics to the rap.
The Spy Who Shagged Me is an intriguing film in relation to the original, as it provides better moments but on the whole is worse.
Timeless sexual innuendo jokes take a central platform in a stupid yet also hilarious Bond parody.
When creating comedy the aim of a filmmaker is not just to make an audience laugh… but also to make them laugh on repeat viewings and this is something that the first in the Austin Powers series does well.
The humour is far from high-brow and there are many jokes and moments which can be seen from a mile off; yet with its referential style and ridiculous characters International Man of Mystery creates comedy that is still funny on the third or fourth watch.
It is easy viewing that will cheer you up after a long day (or after a James Bond marathon) and there is little harm in that.