AUSTIN POWERS IN GOLDMEMBER
For Austin Powers in Goldmember, everyone has been reunited Austin, Dr Evil, a sulking Seth still trying to find the acceptance of his father, Mini-Me (who does a very cute turnaround to become a Mini-Austin), an unnecessary cameo from Fat Bastard, and all the familiar henchpeople. The film adds a couple of new characters singer Beyoncé Knowles making her screen debut as a passable Pam Grier homage named Foxxy Cleopatra; a new villain Mike Myers playing a fourth character, the titular Goldmember, in an outrageous Dutch accent; and the neat touch of casting Michael Caine as Austins father a tribute in that in the 1960s Caine played the horn-rimmed bespectacled, Cockney spy Harry Palmer that directly became the model for the Austin Powers look. (See Billion Dollar Brain (1967) for further detail about the Harry Palmer films).
Needless to say, with so many characters sharing screen time, Austin Powers in Goldmember seems crowded. In fact, what it resembles (albeit in a far more intendedly spoofy way) is one of Joel Schumachers Batman movie franchise monstrosities, Batman Forever (1995) and Batman & Robin (1997). In Schumachers entries, the number of funny face characters that inhabited the previous Tim Burton Batman films was increased to the point where the films became a chaotic jumble more akin to a three-ring circus. Although the central difference between the Austin Powers and Batman films is that one actor is playing almost all the characters on screen here. While the Austin Powers franchise started as a parody of the James Bond films, now Mike Myers preening, indulgent screen antics have outgrown everything else to the point that they dominate the entire show. There is almost nothing else to the film other than Mike Myers doing funny voices and scatological impressions with shadow silhouettes and peeing statues.
The film stabs in the general direction of quoting various other movies vague intimations of James Bond films such as Goldfinger (1964), the Japanese sojourn of You Only Live Twice (1967) and the submarine incursion of The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), and other films such as The Silence of the Lambs (1991), Mission: Impossible II (2000), Godzilla movies, Blaxploitation cinema and The Matrix (1999)-styled wire-flying stuntwork. That said, none of it amounts to any particularly pointed spoof of any specific film scene so much as it seems a giddily effervescent silliness that occasionally careens in the direction of previous cinematic styles. More importantly, none of it ever coalesces into a plot you never find out what Dr Evils scheme with the asteroid is meant to achieve, while the film flips over the place so much so that it is hard to tell which scenes are meant to be taking place in 1975 and which in the present. (It is never particularly clear, for instance, how Goldmember manages to kidnap Austins father in the present-day before Dr Evil has brought him forward in time).
There are great many jokes breaking down the figurative fourth wall characters referring directly to the screen, scatological humour playing around with partially obscured subtitles. There is a cute opening sequence set around the filming of an Austin Powers movie, which features some hilarious cameos from Tom Cruise playing Austin, Kevin Spacey as Dr Evil, Danny DeVito as Mini-Me, Gwyneth Paltrow, Britney Spears (as a fembot who gets her head blown off yeah!!!!), and Steven Spielberg and Quincey Jones behind the camera, plus a cameo mid-film from tvs flavour of the week The Osbournes (something that will date the film quickly) and a very funny surprise appearance from John Travolta at the end of the film. Overall though, Austin Powers in Goldmember seems a self-congratulatory film and one where the wacky off-the-wall cuteness and playing to the camera is blatantly undercut by plugs for Taco Bell and the likes. The Austin Powers franchise has become an idea whose cuteness has outgrown itself now would be a good time for the Austin Powers series to place itself into voluntary retirement.
(No. 6 on the SF, Horror & Fantasy Box-Office Top 10 of 2002 list).