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