"AUSTIN POWERS: THE SPY WHO SHAGGED ME"|
95 minutes | Rated: PG-13
Opened: Friday, June 11, 1999
Directed by Jay Roach
Starring Mike Myers, Heather Graham, Michael York, Robert Wagner, Seth Green, Verne J. Troyer, Mindy Sterling, Rob Lowe, Elizabeth Hurley, Gia Carides, Kristen Johnson & Clint Howard
Cameos: Tim Robbins, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Jerry Springer, Woody Harrelson, Willie Nelson, Fred Willard
SMALL SCREEN SHRINKAGE: 15%|
LETTERBOX: COULDN'T HURT
As much as I hated it, we all know "Shagged" is an instant library addition, and it will survive small-screen translation well. A no-brainer.
VIDEO RELEASE: 11/16/99
Long, tiresome wind-ups beget only small snickers in Myers' spy spoof sequel
It's a shame Mike Myers didn't invent Austin Powers during his "Saturday Night Live" tenure. The occasionally funny sketch bits he strings weakly together with about six minutes of plot in his "Austin Powers" James Bond spoofs might have played well as short gags in a recurring "SNL" routine.
Imagine, if you will, a skit in which Dr. Evil (Myers' mock-Blofeld) goes on "Jerry Springer" to confront his disgruntled son, who (god forbid!) has no ambition to take over the world. Or an episode hosted by the unbelievably beautiful yet seemingly accessible Heather Graham, in which she dons Urusla Andress' bikini from "Dr. No" and ultra-tossable hair extensions to play a CIA sexpot named Felicity Shagwell opposite Myers' ribald, randy, chest toupee- and cravat-wearing super-spy.
Funny stuff, right?
But when you have to sit through the kind of long, tiresome, rudderless wind-ups that dominate "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me," just to get to such minor snickers, it just goes to show why "SNL"-spawn movies never work in the first place. Even if the jokes haven't been beaten to death on late night TV, the material is too obvious and underwritten to be stretched into a feature film.
A little perspective here before I continue: Save the strategic foreground nude scenes and Seth Green as Dr. Evil's smart-mouthed son, I didn't laugh once at the first "Austin Powers" movie and thought it was a complete waste of time. Yet, strangely, I was all fired up to see "The Spy Who Shagged Me." I guess the cultural phenomenon seduced me.
There's no denying that "Shagged," in which swinging secret agent Powers (Myers) follows Dr. Evil (also Myers) back in time to 1969 in order to retrieve his stolen mojo (i.e. his sex drive), has hilarious moments -- even though it abandons almost immediately the fertile plot idea of an impotent Austin Powers. One of those moments comes early on when the source of Dr. Evil's incredible wealth is revealed -- he owns Starbucks!
The Bond references are funny -- especially the goofs on "You Only Live Twice" that take place in outer space and inside Evil's hollowed out volcano headquarters. It's also good for a laugh when Dr. Evil goes back to 1969 and is just as out of touch there -- making pop culture references to "Jerry Maguire" and the Death Star -- as he was in the first "Powers," ransoming the world for $1 million in 1997.
But apparently nobody had the courage to point out to Myers that other gibes recycled from the first film are already archaic and that much of his new material -- like the 400-pound henchman called Fat Bastard (yet another role played by Myers) -- is hopelessly hackneyed, no matter how much he tries to sass it up with barrel-bottom scatological humor.
Myers doesn't seem embarrassed by any of this, but poor Heather Graham sure does. This girl is a brilliant actress, and man, oh, man is she dead sexy in hot pants and go-go boots! But here she's reduced to pretending, unenthusiastically, to laugh at Austin Powers' inept wit and spouting pathetic double-entendres that even porno scribes would have run through the typewriter again.
Only the smaller players -- literally and figuratively -- walk away from this sequel without getting any of the stink on them.
Rob Lowe, playing the 1969 version of Number Two, Evil's right hand man, does an amazingly spot-on imitation of Robert Wagner, who plays the part in 1999. Tim Robbins has an uncredited cameo as the United States president and just goes bananas with the role, almost upstaging Myers himself (there's several more cameos as well). And Verne J. Troyer, who plays Dr. Evil's 1/8th scale clone Mini-Me, does upstage Myers on several occasions.
Seeing as most of my complaints about "The Spy Who Shagged Me" largely mirror the ones I issued in reaction to the first "Austin Powers" movie, I think it would be safe to say if you liked the original, you'll probably like the sequel.
But the fact remains that you can't take a thee-minute idea and drag it out for an hour and a half without the stretch marks showing, and the stretch marks are over this baby, baby.