Synopsis: He’s back – back in the 1960s. Secret agent Austin Powers (Mike Myers) hops in a top-secret time machine and zips 30 years back to 1969 to confront Dr. Evil (Myers) and his latest, vilest scheme. Evil is eviler – he has diminutive clone Mini-Me (Verne Troyer) and massive Fat Bastard (Myers) as henchmen. Austin, who “put the grrr in swinger, baby” is swingier . . . if he and fab spy chick Felicity Shagwell (Heather Graham) can recover the mojo Evil stole from Austin. What’ll happen if they find it? Oh, behaaave!
I first saw this film on the big screen, upon its original release. I had become so enamoured with ‘Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery’ that I made the rare trip to the cinema, goaded by a friend who wanted to see it.
Not only was I floored by the mindlessly exuberant reactions of the people I went with, I was absolutely appalled by the movie itself – it was some of the dumbest crap I had seen in ages, and certainly the most moronic thing I’d ever seen on the silver screen!
Since then, I can’t remember paying good money to go out and see anything nearly as lacking in intelligence and taste as ‘Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me”. Oh, right… there’s ‘The Ugly Truth’. Urgh…
‘Austin Powers 2’ (let’s forego the simple-minded, corny spoof title) is bereft of any inspiration. It’s an insipid rehash of everything that made the original fresh. Except that, instead of riffing off of James Bond and other ’60s espionage films, volume two riffs off of volume one – essentially meaning that the gags and various skits are carbon copies of the original, but much less funnier. So, not only does it provide fewer -if any- laughs, it also feels extremely stale.
Austin Powers himself has been reduced to a complete mental midget in this film simply for the sake of ill-conceived gags. He even goes so far as to drink steaming hot liquefied pooh because he can’t distinguish its pleasant aroma from regular coffee. I mean, really. Oh, and we were served a full buffet of penis… jokes. I think that Michael Myers went through every iteration for male genitalia in this film.
‘Austin Powers 2’ is basically 90 minutes of grade school kid humour – there are absolutely no signs of sophistication or cleverness anywhere to be found. Case-in-point new characters Mini-Me and the ever-so-subtle Fat Bastard: the first inspires giggle fits from the kinds of girls who find puppies and babies adorable and the other taps into the mental acuity of audiences who find all manners of fart jokes funny.
But it’s hardly surprising, considering the quality of the writing in general. The story is full of gaps; scenes don’t flow into each well (or at all, sometimes). And the writers couldn’t even be bothered with making any sense, going so far as to acknowledge it in the film, all the while breaking the fourth wall to wink at their audience. Were they being lazy? Or were they trying to be facetious and failed miserably? Take your pick.
Even the music ended up riffing off the first film, instead of taking cues from it original inspirations. However, while the score is not nearly as good, the soundtrack is full of great pop-rock ditties. In fact, the double CD soundtracks to this film are actually quite fun, filled with classic tracks, soundbites, and inspired numbers that get into the spirit of the film.
Aside from this, the only good thing about this film is the casting choice of Rob Lowe as the 1969 version of Number 2. He filled Robert Wagner’s shoes perfectly and his take on him is pretty much perfect. While I’m not a fan of the actor or the man, I don’t think that anyone else could ever have topped this performance other than a young Wagner himself. And even there.
Then there’s Heather Graham. To me, Graham is like a little girl playing pretend. She’s incredibly cute, but she displays the acting chops of ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic (comic genius, terrible actor). Having said this, she carries the torch for Elizabeth Hurley well – except that she is absolutely not sexy (unless one is into schoolgirls… which, frankly, is quite disturbing ). Being sexual and being sexy are two different things, Heather.
And I suppose that’s the key thing with this first sequel in the ‘Austin Powers’ franchise: it’s conceived with the mistaken impression that you can go through the motions and that this is just as good as the real thing. What we really would have needed from the filmmakers would have been for them to actually take the time to stimulate our sense of humour, to caress our funny bone, to give us explosions of laughter. Instead, we carelessly got shagged.