Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002)

reviewed by
David N. Butterworth

A film review by David N. Butterworth
Copyright 2002 David N. Butterworth
*** (out of ****)

Juvenile? Yes. Scatalogical? Certainly. Arbitrary? Definitely.

     But funny?  Absolutely!

Maybe it?s all about expectations. You go into the third installment of the "Austin Powers" franchise assuming it to be the worst, the nadir of the series, and guess what? It?s actually pretty good. Had I gone in expecting it to be brilliant, the best, I suspect I would have hated it.

No, surprise surprise, "Austin Powers in Goldmember" is certainly better than its lame predecessor ("Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me," with Heather Graham) and, at times, matches the inspired lunacy of the original "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery" mojo for mojo.

Again, it?s all about what you?re in the mood for. I wanted to see the French import "Read My Lips" more, and the boy-in-love-with-his-stepmother comedy "Tadpole" I suppose, and I still haven?t caught "Insomnia" or "The Fast Runner" yet, but it was a hot, muggy Monday evening and what I wanted was some low-brow escapist fun. What I got almost made me wet my pants (don?t be offended--that?s certainly in keeping with the film?s prevalent bathroom humor and pretty tame by "?Goldmember"?s standards).

Third time around Jay Roach?s film recycles almost all of the jokes of the previous two outings but it does so with such aplomb, with such good humor, and with such shameless idiocy, that you can?t help but laugh. Well, maybe you can. For example the audience was cracking up whenever Austin, the shagadelic super spy (once again performed by the multi-talented Mike Meyers) blurted out the word "mole" while in the presence of an MI6 pencil pusher with a rather large hairy growth on his upper lip yet I could barely raise a titter. On the other hand, I was the only person in the entire 850-seat theater guffawing loudly during a head-scratchingly baffling scene in which the series? latest bad guy, the titular Goldmember (a dermis-ingesting Dutchman with a golden meat and two veg), proffers Austin an increasingly bizarre selection of breakfast combinations.

I liked Goldmember, the character (Myers also; in addition the writer/producer reprises his roles as the pinky-to-lip Dr. Evil and Fat Bastard, the overweight Scottish villain obsessed with this own bodily functions--mercifully he?s only in a scene or two). I liked Goldmember?s scabrous, washed-up yellow look, his seriously double-jointed legs, and his incomprehensible accent (e.g., "fah`jer" for father). I never failed to giggle at Dr. Evil, especially when he has difficulty comprehending something (which is most of the time), or is engaged in some "Scotty don?t" battle of wills with his son Scott (Seth Green, back in form).

In fact, I liked a lot about the film (warning?vague spoilers follow). Like the clever "Mum?s the word" opening sequence--pure Bond, right down to the bazookas; Michael Caine as Austin?s fah`jer Nigel (and the silly subtitled Cockney conversation he shares with his son); Dr. Evil and Mini-Me (Verne Troyer) rapping in the joint; Destiny?s Child?s Beyoncé Knowles, tough, smart, and sexy as the Pam Grier-inspired Foxy Cleopatra (she?s delicious and much better than you?d expect); the obscured subtitles during the Japanese businessman bit; the flashback to boarding school, with spot-on impressions of Austin, Dr. Evil, and Number Two by a trio of talented youngsters; Austin?s groovy "Daddy wasn?t there" musical moment, a throwback to the psychedelic interludes of the original; and so on. They even try to out-do some of the previous jokes--there?s a rude sight gag featuring Austin and a fountain and another shadow play sequence that involves Mini-Me tied, upside down, to Austin?s chest by rubber tubes that only makes sense once you realize the effect they?re shooting for on the other side of the screen.

It?s nonsense--bawdy, goofy, laughable nonsense--and if you don?t venture in to "?Goldmember" expecting much more than that you?ll be in Austin heaven.

David N. Butterworth

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