It's a shame Mike Myers didn't invent Austin Powers during his "SaturdayNight Live" tenure. The occasionally funny sketch bits he stringsweakly 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 disgruntledson, who (god forbid!) has no ambition to take over the world. Or an episodehosted by the unbelievably beautiful yet seemingly accessible Heather Graham,in which she dons Urusla Andress' bikini from "Dr. No" and ultra-tossablehair 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 ShaggedMe," just to get to such minor snickers, it just goes to show why"SNL"-spawn movies never work in the first place. Even if thejokes haven't been beaten to death on late night TV, the material is tooobvious and underwritten to be stretched into a feature film.
A little perspective here before I continue: Save the strategicforeground 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 completewaste of time. Yet, strangely, I was all fired up to see "The SpyWho Shagged Me." I guess the cultural phenomenon seduced me.
There's no denying that "Shagged," in which swingingsecret agent Powers (Myers) follows Dr. Evil (also Myers) back in timeto 1969 in order to retrieve his stolen mojo (i.e. his sex drive), hashilarious moments -- even though it abandons almost immediately the fertileplot idea of an impotent Austin Powers. One of those moments comes earlyon when the source of Dr. Evil's incredible wealth is revealed -- he ownsStarbucks!
The Bond references are funny -- especially the goofs on"You Only Live Twice" that take place in outer space and insideEvil's hollowed out volcano headquarters. It's also good for a laugh whenDr. Evil goes back to 1969 and is just as out of touch there -- makingpop culture references to "Jerry Maguire" and the Death Star -- as he wasin the first "Powers," ransoming the world for $1 million in1997.
But apparently nobody had the courage to point out to Myersthat other gibes recycled from the first film are already archaic and thatmuch of his new material -- like the 400-pound henchman called Fat Bastard(yet another role played by Myers) -- is hopelessly hackneyed, no matterhow much he tries to sass it up with barrel-bottom scatological humor.
Myers doesn't seem embarrassed by any of this, but poorHeather 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 reducedto pretending, unenthusiastically, to laugh at Austin Powers' inept witand spouting pathetic double-entendres that even porno scribes would haverun 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'sright hand man, does an amazingly spot-on imitation of Robert Wagner, whoplays the part in 1999. Tim Robbins has an uncredited cameo as the UnitedStates president and just goes bananas with the role, almost upstagingMyers 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 Myerson several occasions.
Seeing as most of my complaints about "The Spy WhoShagged Me" largely mirror the ones I issued in reaction to the first"Austin Powers" movie, I think it would be safe to say if youliked the original, you'll probably like the sequel.
But the fact remains that you can't take a thee-minuteidea and drag it out for an hour and a half without the stretch marks showing,and the stretch marks are over this baby, baby.