Weekly Wire
Austin Chronicle Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me

By Marc Savlov

JUNE 14, 1999: 

D: Jay Roach; with Mike Myers, Heather Graham, Michael York, Robert Wagner, Seth Green, Mindy Sterling, Rob Lowe, Gia Carides, Verne Troyer, Elizabeth Hurley. (PG-13, 95 min.)

Remember that running sight gag in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery that had various fruits, vegetables, and whatnot strategically placed in front of Myers' and Hurley's naughty bits? The sequel opens with a continuation of that image and, eventually, moves to an even more inspired verbal offshoot. It's guffaw-inducing comedy at its finest, and like much of this new outing, it's even better than the original, ahem, package. Hurley makes only a brief cameo here, replaced by a slinky Graham as CIA operative and new bedmate, Felicity Shagwell, to Myers' swinging shutterbug secret agent, but fans of the original will hardly miss her. Granted, Graham lacks the comic spontaneity that her predecessor evinced, but she's still lovely to look at, and besides, Myers and co-writer Michael McCullers have packed so many ribald yuks into the mix that it's hard to even catch your breath, much less nitpick. But that's my job, isn't it? This time out, Powers must travel back in time to the fabled swinging Sixties of Carnaby Street to retrieve his "mojo" (read: his libido), which has been stolen by nefarious evildoer Dr. Evil (Myers again) and his new henchmen Fat Bastard (still Myers!) and Mini-Me, a 1/8th-scale clone version of the bad doctor. Roach has gone on record as saying that upward of 40% of the new film's dialogue was ad-libbed on the spot, and like the good old days of a pre-earnest Robin Williams, it shows through gleefully. Myers' preoccupation with scatological humor gets to be a bit too much sometimes (a scene in which Fat Bastard's stool sample is mistaken for the proverbial cup of mud is enough to put anyone off their java for a good long while), but the dozens of brazen throwaway gags scattered throughout more than make up for any lapses into outright bad taste. Headquartered in Seattle in a Space Needle-esque Starbucks Tower (!), Dr. Evil divides his time between scheming to do away with our hero and struggling to maintain his evil grip on decidedly non-evil son Scott Evil (who turns up on a Jerry Springer Show entitled "My Dad Is Evil and Wants to Dominate the World") while doling out way too much misplaced affection to Mini-Me (Troyer) in a deliciously wicked homage to Brando's evil clone in The Island of Dr. Moreau. Does Austin get his mojo back, save the day, and shag the Shagwell? Well, duh. But it's all fab, baby, a kicky, wiggy sequel that scores on all levels, from the sexy to the sublime. Cameos by Burt Bacharach and Elvis Costello, Woody Harrelson, SNL alum Will Ferrell, Willie Nelson, Tim Robbins, and Rebecca Romijn Stamos, among others, keep you on your toes, while Myers delivers one of the best spy send-ups since James Coburn in In Like Flint (yet another cameo, by the way). Now, if someone would teach Heather Graham how to stop acting sexy and just be sexy, we'd have a near-perfect comedy on our hands.

3.5 stars

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