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Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me [1999)

This one is painful.  No getting around it.

Mike Myers is a very talented guy, but this film is seriously lacking in creativity.

I get it…  The James Bond series is very formulaic, but a spoof franchise can’t afford to be so predictable.

And thus it is little wonder that Austin Powers only lasted three installments.

But to be fair, let’s give this film a chance.

Austin starts out learning that his luck was too good to be true.

Elizabeth Hurley.  Not a professional model until age 29.

Speaks of a certain beauty.  Timeless.

Perhaps.

Daughter of Angela Mary Titt (!)…you can’t make this stuff up.

Bruce Beresford cast Hurley in Aria (1987) [a compilation film which happened to feature a vignette by my idol Jean-Luc Godard].

Aria was her debut.

Ok, enough about Hurley. She’s not in much of this film, but I really did her a disservice by completely failing to mention her performance in the first Austin Powers movie.  Really, she is a fine actress and her contribution to that movie was significant and impressive.

By now you may be noticing that the current film under consideration (installment two) must be quite a clunker for me to be going on about an actress who appears in about ten minutes of this feature.

If you have surmised thusly, you have surmised correctly.

Moving on…

There are moments in this movie when things briefly coalesce.  Dr. Evil’s headquarters atop The Space Needle hosts one such moment.  The schadenfreude I felt as a patron of a particularly lackluster Starbucks (watch the movie) was, in this scene, among the highlights of a rather limp film.

There is, of course, the addition of the 2′ 8″ Verne Troyer in this installment.  Troyer does a fine job as Mini-Me.

Even the Fat Bastard character is entertaining (up to a point).

I suppose that is the M.O. of the Austin Powers franchise: to go beyond the limits of ridiculousness and good taste.

When it works, it’s quite special.  When it doesn’t (as in most of this film), it’s a rather tragic affair.

Unfortunately, Rob Lowe is not really allowed to shine in this film.  His comedic gifts deserved better.

One player who makes the most of her small role is Kristen Johnston.  Kudos to her for making the sport of chess as exciting and bizarre as Marcel Duchamp and Henry Miller would have done had they wound up in this shambles of a film.

And now on to the bright spot of the film:  Heather Graham.

Yes, I know…I know.

Though it’s not as powerful as her breathtaking performance in Boogie Nights, it’s not a bad performance.

No…far from it.

Graham takes the charm of Elizabeth Hurley and ratchets it up a few notches.

But the story…oy vey, the story.  Really, there is no story.  The same story.

It’s pretty sad when a spy spoof is less entertaining than a Bond clunker such as Moonraker.

Back to Graham…anyone who’s dated Adam Ant is alright in my book.

Pushing onwards…

Dr. Evil at least happens upon the perfect name for his doomsday laser:  The Alan Parsons Project.

Like the evil Starbucks Space Needle, it is one of few highlights.

One of the few storyline threads to come through intact is the one involving Powers’ mojo.

Unfortunately, the naïvete of enlightenment which somehow alighted upon the first Austin Powers film is not present here to sustain the promising premise of mojo lost and found.

Strangely, the series itself seemingly lost its mojo in this its sophomore slump.

There’s one final twist at the end involving Fat Bastard.  For a moment the film threatens to redeem itself.

But alas, as they say…

-PD

5 responses to “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me [1999)

  1. It’s tragic when a series seems to forget what made it great. To be honest I don’t remember much of the film, but a formulaic parody series kind of misses the point. (And appreciating that it is parodying something formulaic doesn’t necessarily make it enjoyable.)

    I remember seeing Aria and liking it (I think Godard’s was about a woman, perhaps two, threatening to stab some muscular guy), but the scene I remember most is those two who commit suicide to Wagner. Slightly disturbing that was.

    I can’t imagine this is a popular position to take, given how much people reference Mini-Me and Fat Bastard, but I agree with as much as I remember about it.

    • Thank you, my friend! I just try to call them like I see them. I’ve been saving Aria until I’ve attacked as many of the full-length Godard films as I can get my hands on. I’ve seen a few of his shorter works (his contribution to Paris vue par). Thank you for your intelligent comment! –Paul

  2. You nailed it: “I suppose that is the M.O. of the Austin Powers franchise: to go beyond the limits of ridiculousness and good taste.”

  3. I’m a huge fan of Dr. Evil, but Austin Powers doesn’t always impress me. Often, the humour is too lowbrow and base. The Spy Who Shagged Me was unfunny and extremely gross in a lot of scenes. I’m 45, and I’ve evolved beyond that level of human consciousness. However, if there is an Austin Powers 4, I will no doubt go see it, if only to show my support for Dr. Evil.

    • Yeah, the first Austin Powers movie seemed the best. I agree about the humor. It’s in fairly poor taste at times and misses the mark. I’m 39, so I can relate to your position 🙂 –Paul

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