Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me [DVD]
Screenplay : Mike Myers and Michael McCullers
MPAA Rating : PG-13
Year of Release : 1999
Stars : Mike Myers (Austin Powers, Dr. Evil, Fat Bastard), Heather Graham (Felicity Shagwell), Michael York (Basil Exposition), Robert Wagner (Number Two), Rob Lowe (Young Number Two), Seth Green (Scott Evil), Mindy Sterling (Frau Farbissina), Verne Troyer (Mini-Me), Elizabeth Hurley (Vanessa), Kristen Johnston (Ivana Humpalot)
When "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery" was released in the spring of 1997, it wasn't meant to be the massive cult phenomenon it turned into. But, after $50 million at the box office and more than three million videos sold, it was inevitable that a sequel would raise its head.
In "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me," Mike Myers returns as both the titular shagadelic superspy and as his arch nemesis, the pinkie-sucking Dr. Evil. The plot is what you would expect: Dr. Evil, once again intent on taking over the world, has built a giant laser gun on the moon aimed to destroy Washington, DC. Meanwhile, he goes back in time from the 1990s to the 1967 to steal Austin's "mojo," the libidinal life force that makes Austin the randy swinger that he is.
The plot is scattershot and really not all that important. Myers, who also co-wrote the script with Michael McCullers, will be the first to tell you that the majority of the movie was improvised on the set. Much of the movie has that momentary improvisational feel, and it often works. But, when it doesn't, the movie finds itself stranded until the next good joke, giving it a choppy, unbalanced tone.
One of the principle differences between the original "Austin Powers" and this sequel is its source of comedy. The original film derived its humor primarily from the fact that Austin Powers was a crude, badly dressed swinging misfit from the '60s transplanted to the politically correct '90s. It was a fish-out-water joke movie that took as many stabs at James Bond lore as it did at the absurdity of mod fashions and Swinging London. In the sequel, this entire line or humor is almost completely ignored, and Myers and Co. concentrate mainly on trying to outgross the competition (and I don't mean in terms of money).
"The Spy Who Shagged Me" features an endless parade of scatological humor, which ranges from the hilarious to the repulsive, even by Farrelly Brothers standards. The grossest and (unfortunately) unfunniest gag involves Austin taking a big swig from a glass filled brown water from a jar of stool samples, leaving him with a brown "milk mustache." The joke is basically unfunny not because it crosses a line (although it does), but because there's no way Austin could possibly get something that foul-smelling close to his face without realizing that it's not coffee. A similar gag at the end of John Waters' "Pink Flamingos" (1972) featuring Divine happily chomping into a dog turd worked because we could believe her character would do such a thing. Austin Powers would not.
Other gross-out jokes include another Myers character, Fat Bastard, an obscenely obese (he is said to weigh "a metric ton") Scottish spy who beds down with Austin's new squeeze, the delicious CIA agent Felicity Shagwell (Heather Graham of "Boogie Nights"). If Fat Bastard himself weren't gross enough physically, he spends the entire scene eating greasy chunks of chicken and getting more in the folds of his flesh than in his mouth. There are also assorted flatulence jokes, handfuls of sexually laced double-entendres, a phallic space ship, suggestive female names like Ivana Humpalot (Kristen Johnston of "Third Rock From the Sun"), and a wonderfully creative sequence of verbal wordplay where different characters in various scenes interrupt each other with lines that include some synonym for the male sex organ (you have to see it to get it).
This time around, Dr. Evil takes up more screen time than Austin Powers, and Myers makes the most of all his scenes with the oddly effeminate arch villain. Seth Green returns as Dr. Evil's blue-haired teenage son, where he continues to excel at eye-rolling, punk sarcasm. Dr. Evil also gets a new sidekick, an exact clone of himself who happens to be 1/8th his size. Dubbed Mini-Me and played by the 28-inch-tall Verne Troyer, he is one of the movie's brightest spots--a perfect comic creation who doesn't have to say a word to be hilarious.
To say that Myers steals the show isn't quite fair because it is his show, and he appears in literally every single scene as one of the three characters he plays. Once again, he shows his adeptness at physically disappearing into his comic characters, although Austin is beginning to show signs of wearing out early--there are only so many ways Myers can say "Yeah, baby" and "Oh, behave" before it gets repetitive. As Felicity Shagwell, Heather Graham is something of an disappointment--physically, she's stunning, but she just can't pull off the goofy lines the way Myers does. She's too self-conscious, and she rarely looks like she believes what she's saying so her performance comes off as somewhat stiff and awkward.
Overall, "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me" has a handful of gut-busting laughs, but not enough steam to carry it all the way through; there's not enough here to make it feel new. The original may have been too much of a one-joke phenomenon to sustain a full sequel. Myers does everything he can with the character, and he and director Jay Roach (who also helmed the original) do a fine job with many of the sight gags, including the hilarious opening credit sequence that features Austin parading around a fancy hotel completely naked with the well-placed credits hiding certain body parts. It is exactly this kind of libidinal, infantile humor combined with Austin's completely un-self-conscious enthusiasm for himself that makes the good scenes crackle. Hopefully, if Myers decides to make another sequel, he will rely less on the gross and more on the basic humor of his characters to see it through.
|Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me Platinum Series DVD|
|Audio|| English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround|
English Dolby 2.0 Surround
|Supplements|| Running audio commentary by star Mike Myers, director Jay Roach, and coscreenwriter Michael McCullers|
20 minutes of deleted scenes
3 music videos
Comedy Central's Canned Ham: "The Dr. Evil Story"
4 theatrical trailers
Austin Powers web site (DVD-ROM)
Web browser and screen-savers (DVD-ROM)
Interactive desktop software (DVD-ROM)
|Distributor||New Line Home Video|
|Release Date||November 16, 1999|
|The DVD of "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me" is another in the long line of excellent releases from the New Line Platinum Series. New Line was one of the early innovators who really took advantage of the DVD format and all it has to offer, and it shows on the new "Austin Powers" release. Technically, the disc is superb. The crystal-clear picture, an anamorphic transfer in the movie's original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, truly shows off the movie's psychedelic color scheme with deep saturation and no bleeding, and the 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack thumps with classic rock tunes.|
Copyright © 1999 James Kendrick