Austin Powers in Goldmember

Reviewed By MP Bartley
Posted 09/03/02 00:40:18

"He's still got his frickin' mojo working."
4 stars (Worth A Look)

In 'Scream 2' they have that oh so self-aware discussion about whether sequels can be better than the original or not. While the usual culprits like 'Godfather Part 2' or 'Aliens' are batted around no-one makes any comment about the third sequel (usually the horribly bad franchise killer). Ignoring serial franchises like the Bond movies, third sequels usually stink and undo all the good work the first two did. 'Scream 3', 'Alien 3', or 'Batman Forever' anyone? But now comes the exception that proves the rule.

The third installment in the 'Powers' series feels like the one where Myers had the most fun. The first was an experiment to see if anyone would like the concept and the second an attempt to see if it had the legs to run. Happily it did and Myers is now running riot across the screen adding a fourth character (Goldmember) to his established repertoire of Powers, Dr. Evil and Fat Bastard.

Plotwise, Dr. Evil has returned from space and has a new plan to crash a meteorite into the Earth. This involves bringing Dutch villain and disco-freak Goldmember back from 1975 and also entails the kidnapping of Austins father (Michael Caine). Austin sets out to foil the plan this time accompanied by 70's detective Foxy Cleopatra (Beyonce Knowles) which even involves a trip back to Austins childhood and his schooltime clashes with Dr. Evil (or master Evil as he was known then)

But obviously the plot is second place to the (many) comic highlights. Indeed the times that the film drags are the times that the plot has to move along. However apart from those scenes, it's mostly a riot. The much-lauded opening sequence is justly so and shows that the 'Powers' series has the unique position of being a franchise that the public seemingly loves and a franchise the industry also highly regards.

After that it's the comfort of being back in with familiar characters. The three way struggle between Dr. Evil, Mini-Me and Scott is as funny as ever and develops itself as Scott begins to charm his way more into his fathers affections at the expense of Mini-Me. Seth Green as Scott shows some considerable comic chops here and justly gets more to do.

However that, coupled with new characters such as Nigel Powers, Goldmember and The Mole (Fred Ward), means the running time cramps out some characters. Frau gets one decent scene while I honestly can't remember anything of Number 2 after the first ten minutes. Surprisingly even Goldmember gets little to do.

Ultimately every other character not played by Myers is deservedly second billed. While Caine keeps it the right side of hammy and Knowles is get down on all fours and drool like a dog sexy, it's Myers show and he knows he's running it. He's long been compared with Peter Sellers which I've been loath to do. In an age when it's all too lazy to compare like for seemingly like (Martin Lawrence! He's the new Will Smith! Um, no.), I've still yet to be convinced. Comic genius as he undoubtedly was Sellers was also a damn fine dramatic actor and had many characters to be proud of. Myers has Powers, Evil and maybe Wayne and that's it. So far. However what they do share is the ability to completely dissapear into a character. No matter if Eddie Murphy plays a talking donkey, a cop or a neurotic film star it's still Eddie Murphy. But not Myers. Despite having four roles you never see the real Myers or any similiar traits in any of them.

And Dr. Evil is now surely a comic creation up with the greats like Inspector Closeau, President Mervin Muffley, the Spinal Tap crew and Dr. Rumack. Every scene he's in is a highlight and guarantees at least two good laughs as he tries to conquer the world and solve his family squabbles. Dr. Evil is now firmly the star of the series (he's much funnier than Powers). Myers also succeeds where he failed in the last sequel and makes Fat Bastard funny. Perhaps by limiting him to a cameo it makes his appearance stronger and seems to be one of the few occassions where Myers is letting his strong improvisational skills loose.

But Goldmember makes little impact apart from his skin-eating habit and the accompanying great revulsion from Dr. Evil. Even Sellers only managed three characters in 'Dr. Strangelove'. But no matter. For every joke that falls flat (the 'Hard Knock Life' song) or is repeated too often (the 'Mole' gag) there's three that work brilliantly.

If you liked the first two odds are you'll like this one with Myers in full spin. If you didn't it certainly won't convert you and I'm not going to hound anyone who doesn't like it. Comedy is a very personal choice and some will find it slightly less funny than stomach ulcers. But to concur with someone Very Famous at the beginning 'My little friend here, thinks it's fine the way it is'

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