Synopsis: The mission for Austin (Mike Myers): Shake booty into the glittery roller-disco days of 1975 and rescue his suave spy dad (Michael Caine) from the scheme of – Shh! – Dr. Evil (Myers). The minions: freaky-flakey Goldmember, Fat Bastard (both played by Myers) and Mini-Me (Verne Troyer). The minx: Austin’s sassy ex-squeeze Foxxy Cleopatra (Beyonce Knowles). The result: a three-for-all of grooviness that whisks from the 2000s to the 1970s and back to the 2000s – the screamingly funny third Austin Powers!
What does that mean? Is there supposed to be a double entendre there? Is it too clever for me to understand? Or is the title simply supposed to hark back to a genre of film that would advertize its hero in the title, sort of like “James Bond in Goldfinger”?
Just the fact that the film’s title is a seriously poor spoof of a 007 classic leads me to indifference. It goes right down there with Steve Oedekerk’s “thumbs” titles like ‘Bat Thumb’ and ‘Star Thumb’. Heck, it could only get worse if it had been generic in the vein of the “(blank) movie” series (such as… oh, I don’t know… ‘Spy Movie’ ).
When you discover that Goldmember is one of the main characters of this film, the title becomes even more dubious. I suppose there’s a 10-year-old boy’s idea of “gay” humour at play here. Frankly, it wouldn’t surprise me, considering tha calibre of the last film and Michael Myers’ general output.
And it’s not the “gay” humour that bothers me. If it’s not overly-stereotyped, condescending or hateful, I’m fine with it. Case-in-point, I’m a pretty big fan of the film ‘Jeffrey’, which is a romantic sex comedy about gay men – one that goes to show that it can be done tastefully and intelligently (if imperfectly).
I’m going to sound stuffy, but I don’t think that comedies should be so dumb that only seeing them inebriated can induce laughter. In my mind, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being silly or absurd in an intelligent way. Laughter is a temporary loss of one’s senses, sure, but there’s no reason why it should be beneath the person it’s influencing.
On the plus side, the series finally stops riffing on both 007 and itself with this chapter. While I enjoyed the satire in the first film, at least it’s no longer a pale imitation of itself, as it was in the second. So it’s slightly fresher this time around, even if it’s still not especially good or clever.
One big change is that the writers tried to explore the characters’ back stories with this one, presumably to humanize them and get away from the empty schtick of the first two. Although it’s a commendable approach, I found it absolutely unnecessary, if not unwanted, seeing as they are mere parodies of fictional characters in the first place.
All the feel-good mushiness of good-over-evil, the family reunions, and so forth was too saccharine and formulaic for my taste; it’s all been seen before, and in much better films with better characters and better writing. I think that this is where digging into the satirical side of the series would have proven useful, giving us new spins on familiar pop culture icons instead of on these empty cartoons. Still, at least it was a distraction from the inanity of the rest of the film.
‘Austin Powers 3′, no doubt due to the enormous success of its predecessor, was afforded far too much budget. Studio bosses no doubt fell for the “more is better” approach to cinema and gave the filmmakers far too much leeway, as evidenced by the horrible CGI “requisites” and the much grander scope of the film. Which, in the end, only helped to make it feel like something other than an “Austin Powers’ film – so it was a waste of good cash.
On the flip side, that kind of money meant being able to reel in cameos by the likes of Tom Cruise (in an amusing self-parody), Gwyneth Paltrow (back when she was an actress, not a health guru), Kevin Spacey (for what appears to be first screen test as Lex Luthor ), Danny DeVito (in a perfectly casted small part ), and Michael Caine (who brings desperately-needed class to the picture ).
Then there are the many musical numbers (and the traditionally over-indulgent opening credit sequence!), which only a large budget could finance, featuring Britney Spears (in a segment so badly mixed that it was shockingly clear that it was pre-recorded ), Michael Myers (singing about Austin Powers’ dad! ), and Beyoncé Knowles – who continues the tradition of pretty but vacant non-actresses begun by Elizabeth Hurley and Heather Graham.
I simply could not be made to care about any of the characters or the outcome of this film, no matter how hard it tried to pull at my heartstrings with its canned sentimentality. I was satisfied with the end result only because it was such a huge leap over the last one. However, as a stand-alone film, it doesn’t offer much replay value; I can’t fathom ever having a craving for ‘Goldmember’.