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Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me

Starring: Mike Myers, Heather Graham
Director: Jay Roach
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 95 Minutes
Release Date: June 1999
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: Robert Wagner, Seth Green, Kristen Johnston, Verne Troyer

Review by Greg King
4 stars out of 4

Groovy, baby! Mike Myers returns as Austin Powers, the over sexed, impossibly hirsute, yellow toothed and sartorially challenged '60's super spy, in this hilarious and thoroughly enjoyable spoof of the whole canon of '60's spy films. Incredibly, this shagadelic sequel is much better than the first film, which failed to amuse or impress some audiences. The Spy Who Shagged Me takes the basic formula of the original and inverts it. However, there are less wasted opportunities here.

Co-writers Myers and Michael McCullers (who honed his satiric talents writing for Saturday Night Live for many years) take the familiar clichés and memorable moments of the Bond films and savage them mercilessly. Film buffs will also recognise lively spoofs of other '60's spies, like Matt Helm and The Avengers, in the broad mix.

Whereas the first film saw the cryogenically frozen Powers unleashed on the late 1990's, this sequel sees him return to London in the swinging '60's. Dr Evil also ventures back in time, accompanied by his pint sized clone Mini-Me (Verne Troyer). Dr Evil has hatched a dastardly plot to steal the frozen Powers' mojo (his libido, his life force), thus thwarting the spy's efforts to stop his plan for world domination. To defeat Dr Evil's plan to blackmail the world with a high tech laser planted on the moon, Powers teams up with beautiful, sexy and extremely capable CIA agent Felicity Shagwell ("Shagwell by name, shag very well by reputation"), played with enthusiasm by Heather Graham (from Boogie Nights, etc).

There is a distinct lack of subtlety here, and many of its targets are obvious. The very busy and wildly inventive plot includes lots of corny special effects and is liberally sprinkled with clever pop cultural references. Somehow it all works a treat under Jay Roach's proficient direction. He maintains a cracking pace, and there are few flat moments in this non stop barrage of bad taste jokes. The film is chock full of the sort of puerile humour, smutty jokes and cheap double entendres that make the Carry On films look sophisticated. Nonetheless it will be enthusiastically lapped up by adolescent schoolboys everywhere.

Everyone from the original film returns for the sequel, although Elizabeth Hurley's character is despatched very early in the piece. While Myers is sometimes a little irritating as the heroic and narcissistic Powers, he is marvellous as Dr Evil, the pinkie-sucking, Blofeld-like villain of the piece. Buried under a mountain of prosthetics, Myers is virtually unrecognisable in a third role as the grotesque and aptly named Fat Bastard, one of Evil's agents, who steals Powers' mojo.

Mindy Sterling is wonderfully abrasive and funny as Frau Farbissina, while Rob Lowe does a marvellous job of impersonating Robert Wagner as a younger version of Dr Evil's loyal and taciturn lieutenant, Number Two. Seth Green is droll as Evil's test tube son Scott, who continually points out the ludicrousness of his father's plans. Burt Bacharach, Elvis Costello, Woody Harrelson, Willie Nelson, Tim Robbins and talk show host Jerry Springer are along for the ride with wonderful cameos. Everyone involved looks like they were having a smashing time, and their infectious enthusiasm soon rubs off on the audience.

If nothing else, the whole exercise is also another chance to crank up a soundtrack of great '60's rock classics!

The Spy Who Shagged Me knocked the over hyped and disappointing The Phantom Menace off the top of the US box office. That it will likely repeat that feat here gives heart that audiences still prefer films with human characters and a bit of style over computer generated visual effects. May the farce be with you!

Copyright © 2000 Greg King

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