Goldmember finds Mike Myers returning to his most successful franchise, but desperately running out of steam and resorting to yet another stab at jokes that hit-and-missed the first two times around.
And guess what: They haven't improved with age.
Goldmember is probably the worst in the Austin Powers series (though I really enjoyed the second one I didn't think the original was all that funny either -- I consider #3 about on par with #1). But that's probably good news for the talk-back-to-the-screen crowd (conveniently sitting right behind me at my screening), giving plenty of no he diiiiint! opportunities when Myers, oh, makes a sexual innuendo or, Beyoncé Knowles, um, makes a sexual innuendo, or, well, you get the idea.
Director Jay Roach and Myers know what worked with the teen crowd before, so they're at it again. From the de rigueur musical numbers to the shadow play gags to Fat Bastard rubbing his nipples to copious amounts of horn-dog humor, Goldmember plays out as an extended case of déjà vu. We've heard the "I'm dead sexy" line. We've used "Zippit!" to death. We've watched MINI-ME fight Austin. And we've seen the "it looks just like a giant... Johnson!" gag before. Three times at least, by my count. Now make it four.
While it's repetitive and has long stretches with no laughs at all, Goldmember fortunately isn't a complete rehash of its predecessors. Unfortunately its new elements are barely memorable. Myers's new titular villain Goldmember (the fourth role a visibly weary Myers plays in the film) is about as lame as they come; he is the butt of jokes because he eats his own peeling skin and he's Dutch. Are we making fun of people from Holland now? I didn't know that was supposed to be funny. The z-instead-of-th accent... is that really humorous? Maybe in Canada.
When the jokes don't totally miss they go on far too long: A bit about Fat Bastard critiquing the aroma of his own fart is questionable to start with, but stretching into the second minute the bit begins to beg for mercy. Michael Caine is largely wasted as Austin's father. Fred Savage is inexplicable as a mole with a giant, well, mole. There's no plot to speak of -- another "ransom the world" story that makes absolutely no sense. Low points of the picture resort to spoofing The Silence of the Lambs and various rap videos. The whole movie comes off as lazy and tired.
Knowles, in her screen debut, is actually far better than I'd expected, and she manages to liven up the proceedings considerably (often because she's the only other one in a scene with Myers playing so many of the other characters). That said, it's a little weird for a girl born in 1981 to be spoofing blaxploitation pictures -- in this case, directly aping Foxy Brown from her hairstyle to her figures of speech.
The one shining moment that almost makes Goldmember worth seeing is its star-studded cameo opening, which features a certain Oscar-winning director and some of Hollywood's biggest stars in their own Austin Powers movie-within-a-movie. I won't spoil it because that would really reduce the movie to irrelevance, but it's funny enough that when the movie reprises the bit to end the picture, you can almost forgive (and forget) all the crap that you suffered through in between.
Cheese and ham.