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Austin Powers in Goldmember

Reviewed By PyThomas
Posted 12/31/02 11:23:28

"Mikey, I think it's time to pack the martini glasses and call it a trilogy."
3 stars (Average)

Oh, how the mighty have fallen: The first Austin Powers film, "International Man of Mystery" (1997), showed promise as a franchise. "The Spy Who Shagged Me" (1999) delivered on that promise, with new and just-as-crazy characters. But it looks to me that with "Goldmember", the Shagmobile has just run out of petrol.

We kick off this third installment, not with Felicity Shagwell getting offed, but with the film spoofing itself. (And if only the rest of the film could have been this hilarious and inventive.) Getting their cameos in at this point are Tom Cruise, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kevin Spacey, Danny DeVito, Steven Spielberg, Quincy Jones and Britney Spears in a hysterical moment that is a small step in making up for her "Crossroads" movie. And of course we see the usual mucking about by Austin Powers (Mike "Maybe I Should Do A Lothar Movie Next" Myers). We then see Dr. Evil (Myers Part II) planning his next big scheme to conquer the world, only to get busted early on by Austin and get sentenced to doing riffs on "Silence of the Lambs" and rap videos. But something strange happened while Dr. Evil got incarcerated: Austin's long-lost father, Nigel Powers (Michael "Where The Bloody Hell Has My Career Gone" Caine) was kidnapped and somehow transported back to the year 1975.

Well, once Austin catches wind of this, he goes back in time as well, and meets up with a funk sista named Foxxy Cleopatra (Beyonce "Bootylicious" Knowles) and a mysterious Dutchman who goes by Goldmember (Myers Part III). The Evil gang is back for more, and this time around Dr. Evil's son Scott (Seth "I Hope To God That Buffy's On For A Few More Seasons" Green) is making more of an effort to impress his dad, leaving Mini-Me (Verne "Next Guy Who Calls Me A Midget I'm Headbutting His Nuts" Troyer) out in the cold to contemplate switching sides. Also making a reappearance for bodily-function-humor's sake is Fat Bastard (Myers Part IV), now a white Sumo wrestler. Other cameos sprinkled throughout this film are from Nathan Lane, Katie Couric, the Osbournes and Fred Savage as a "mole" (yep, you guessed correctly what's on his face).

Mike manages to squeeze a few new gags out of his myriad of characters in this film, but it's clear that he's just about spent. One of the sporadic hilarious moments in "Goldmember" involves the clever use of subtitles while Austin and his team track down Dr. Evil in Japan. We get one more funny twist out of the "silhouettes doing provocative things" premise, but Austin's latest gag involving urination is (ahem) piss-poor. And far be it from me to pick on a fellow native of the Houston area, but while Beyonce's performance is cool and crazy, it just isn't quite up to par with her predecessors Liz and Heather. Verne is business as usual with Mini-Me, but once he becomes Mini-A.P., he does puts some new comical twists on his diminutive role. And the last person I'd expect to see in an Austin Powers film is Michael Caine, but he does a decent job with his Nigel performance.

Many things are missing from this Powers outing, like plothole control and a decent ending. But the biggest missing element is a peculiar and glaring omission indeed: the obligatory bedroom scene with Austin and his leading lady. Did Beyonce object to her character having to share a bed with Myers' character? (In fact, that would be pretty understandable.) Did the studios balk at the prospect of Austin engaging in interracial shagging? Did the test audiences disapprove of such a scene? Whatever it is, it seems as if Mike Myers lost his bollocks in this aspect of the film. You don't see a Bond flick without some kind of bedroom business; neither should that be omitted from an Austin Powers movie.

At any rate, "Goldmember" is a decently funny film that barely deserves its box-office take. However, it's clear that we're almost to the bottom of the vodka bottle. If there is a fourth Powers film ("A View To A Shag"? "For Your Knockers Only"? "Live And Let Your Teeth Rot"?) Mike & Co. can either right its course and get a tighter plot, better characters and fresher gags, or put it on cruise control again and end up with a film that stinks worse than Fat Bastard's jockstrap.

I'm hoping for the former, but I still feel the Austin Powers franchise would be better off if Mr. Myers hangs up the leisure suit for good right now while it can still be well hung. (Thankyew.)

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