(In theaters, July 2002) As a big fan of the original film’s low-budget spy parody, I was let down by the scatological humor of the sequel and this impression only worsens with this third entry. The jokes become increasingly self-referential, up to a point where there isn’t much here that doesn’t refer to the Austin Powers mythology itself. Spy parody? Forget it! It doesn’t help that the “writer” is working with a palette of roughly five jokes, which are repeated time and time again way beyond the point of diminishing results. What’s worth saving are the first five minutes, which feature a series of celebrity cameos and a high-energy opening sequence. The rest goes downhill fast, even though I think this film is better than the second one if only because the gross-out humor is toned down in comparison. The only latter flashes of humor, though, are a G*dz*ll* reference and a gag on reading white subtitles on white background. (Alas, as with all the other jokes, this last joke is stretched for about a minute more than it ought to be.) On the other hand, it’s still good to see the familiar gang of Powers characters come back. Among the new character, though it’s mixed bag: Michael Caine is particularly good as Nigel Powers. Beyonce Knowles is positively adorable in one scene (in Power’s pad) and simply wasted in the rest of the film; she deserves better material. As for the title character, Goldmember is one of the lamest thing about the film, a character who doesn’t elicit one single laugh. The rest of the film plays as a parade of wasted opportunities; why don’t you go see Undercover Brother for a film that not only does disco-blacksploitation right, but is also considerably funnier to boot?
(In theaters, June 1999) Slightly shagadisappointing! After the delightfully silly original film, Austin Powers -one of the best comic creation of the nineties- is back in a sequel that exacerbates the very worst characteristics of the original. Did it have to be so scatological and painfully obvious? Probably not, but then again it seems to work for some. The satirical bent of the first film is lessened, and the sequel is more of a sporadically amusing exercise in self-conscious comedy. Not exactly unfunny, but it could have been better. You can actually get more laughs from the original script now floating around the Web.
(On VHS, June 1998) “Groovy, baby!” are the two last words in Austin Powers‘s credits, and they describe the film quite well. An outrageous mix of sixties parody and very nineties comedy, the movie gains a lot from the presence of Mike Myers. Sure, it’s not exactly well-balanced nor completely successful, but the overall tone is so original (if this can be said of a parody) that it hits more than it misses. The character of Austin Powers himself will probably remain a part of my imagination forever. Yeah, baby, yeah!