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"Austin Powers in Goldmember"

Directed by Jay Roach.
Written by Michael McCullers and Mike Myers.
Starring Mike Myers, Beyoncé Knowles and Michael Caine.
Release Year:  2002
Review Date:  7/28/02


I am 27 years old.  College-educated.  Reasonably sophisticated, in dress and in speech.  My parents are successful people—one a senior executive at a major financial institution, the other a holder of a Ph.D and running her own business.  I read the editorial section of major metropolitan newspapers, occasionally watch CNN and The Weather Channel for fun, and love a good piece of classical music.

But in the 75th film I have seen this year (!!), “Austin Powers in Goldmember”, I laughed so hard at sight gags involving urinating into someone’s mouth, beating a midget with a pole, disgusting moles on an intern’s face and character names like Dixie Normus that I almost fell out of my chair three times.

That’s the big reason that this, the third Austin Powers film, is my favorite of them all—I don’t know how writer/star Mike Myers has found a formula to make people laugh at some of the most infantile humor ever allowed in a PG-13 film, but he’s found it.  All of the members of my film group came out of tonight’s showing shaking our heads; we were simply ashamed that this many potty jokes made us laugh, but laugh we did, hard.  A lot.

The plot this time around involves Austin Powers (Myers) and his continuing, time-traveling fight against nemesis Dr. Evil (Myers).  Evil has utilized the help of a 1970s club owner named Goldmember (Myers) to kidnap Powers’ dad Nigel (Michael Caine) while developing a device that could flood North America.  So, with the help of an undercover agent named Foxy Cleopatra (Beyonce Knowles), Austin and Foxy team up to take down The Man.

I liked the first film in this series, “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery”, but thought the second film, “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me”, was a total dog.  Its main problem was, like all of the films in this series, it features run-on improvisational jokes...but, in the second film, they often fell flat the first time around, so when they would resurface later in the film, it would fall flat again, and again, and again.  In this third film, it feels like there is more scripted fun, rather than Myers’ penchant to just keep the camera rolling while he makes up jokes with co-stars.

Evidence of this has to start with the ridiculous number of cameos in the film, none of which I will ruin here.  Needless to say, though, most of these cameos work, especially in an opening sequence that is my pick for funniest scene in the whole series, and maybe in any movie this year; I was howling along with the sold-out audience in my theater.  Of course, this opener wouldn’t have been possible if the other two films hadn’t made so much damned money...but, as it were, this is a great sequence.  More evidence?  The casting of rookie actress Knowles (one of the singers in Destiny’s Child) in such a pivotal role for a film this large.  Rarely does she have to handle any of the humor in the film—mostly it is just reaction shots to Myers.  She is really good, and really good-looking, and she doesn’t do anything out of the ordinary to shift the focus away from the four characters that Myers is playing in this film (the fourth being a cameo by Fat Bastard, the only great thing about the previous film).

Sure, there are WAY too many product placements in the film, but that is really starting to become the norm so maybe I should just accept it.  It is no more than “Minority Report”, which seemed to subliminally tell me that I should go to The Gap, buy some cargo shorts, and then go my nearest Lexus dealer.  Or, no more than the shameless “Men in Black II”, which was so over-the-top that I pulled my Sprint phone out during the film to make sure I had it turned off.  (Talk about a message film!)  And, the ending of “Austin Powers in Goldmember” left something to be desired, even in the outtakes; I heard a lot of people saying “Huh?” after the outtakes were finished.  But, the first 75% of the film is so funny that I can’t quarrel with what I saw.

I’m glad the hype machine is over since the movie is out, and in what is becoming a good trend this summer, most of the hyped-up films have actually been good.  Only a couple more left:  “XXX”, “Signs” and “Blue Crush” (wait a minute...).

Rating:  $9.00 Show


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09