By Sherrie Li
By Falling James
By Amanda Lewis
By Amy Nicholson
By Amy Nicholson
By Jennifer Swann
By Scott Foundas
By Sherrie Li
THE NOMINAL PREMISE OF THE NEW MIKE MYERS spy spoof, for those who haven't yet committed the last few issues of Entertainment Weekly to memory, involves a British agent who, having been cryonically preserved in the '60s and defrosted in the '90s, bounces back to 1969 in order to retrieve his "mojo" from Dr. Evil, a Donald Pleasance type intent on the usual malfeasance. Needless to say, the real point of flashing back in time in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me is a nostalgic wallow in both 1997 box-office returns and faux-'60s psychedelia, a nostalgia that translates into dozens of extras outfitted in Mary Quant chic, a soundtrack engineered for Billboard gold (from the Monkees to Madonna, from Propellerheads to Burt Bacharach, who makes an MTV-ready appearance with Elvis Costello), as well as Powers himself, a singularly persuasive embodiment of the triumph of Eros over Thanatos, or at least of the insatiable appetite of the American movie audience for really silly comedy.
Directed by Jay Roach with an agreeable lack of self-regard (the credit "A Jay Roach Film" is minor comic relief in and of itself), from a script stitched together by star Mike Myers and Michael McCullers, this affably sloppy sequel to the most unlikely of cultural phenomena, 1997's Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, begins with a de rigueur nod to James Bond, then another to George Lucas, before proceeding to rifle through the rest of late-20th-century pop culture with the promiscuous abandon of an eBay junkie. There's more, of course -- or less, depending on your tolerance for this sort of thing -- but as with so many movies in which there's barely enough content to fill in the form, the happy attributes of The Spy Who Shagged Me can be easily indexed, much as in one of those Cosmo "Turn-Ons/Turn-Offs" lists.
In the turn-on category there's Heather Graham as Felicity Shagwell, a Barbarella look-alike dolled up in Creamsicle oranges and pinks and perfect décolletage. There's the American astronaut who, on being almost sideswiped in space by a gyrating Bob's Big Boy statue, murmurs, "Oh, my gentle Jesus." There's Felicity and Austin, newly landed on the moon and pretending, badly, to be walking sans gravity . . . also Rob Lowe playing, not at all badly, Robert Wagner, and a Russian spy named Ivana Humpalot who coos, "Make love to me, monkey man," a line swiped, I believe, from Charlton Heston's final speech to Roddy McDowall in Planet of the Apes.
And in the turn-off category? Well, there's Dr. Evil's rap number, which dies on arrival, one-too-many scatological groaners, and the Fat Bastard, a revolting character who seems inspired, though not enough, by Monty Python's The Meaning of Life. But these are the most minor of quibbles about a blissfully disposable movie, of which the less said, and written, no doubt the better. Willfully minor, unabashedly sweet and more resplendently, self-consciously stupid than The Phantom Menace, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Mereverses what has become the prevailing summer-movie trend. Here, at last, is a movie that's nearly as good as its publicity campaign.
AUSTIN POWERS: THE SPY WHO SHAGGED ME | Directed by JAY ROACH | Written by MIKE MEYERS & MICHAEL McCULLERS | Produced by JOHN LYONS and MYERS | A New Line Cinema release | Citywide
THE THIRD MAN | Produced and directed by CAROL REED | Written by GRAHAM GREENE | Presented by ALEXANDER KORDA and DAVID O. SELZNICK Re-released by Rialto Pictures | At Landmark's Nuart June 1117
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