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'Spy': Puerile Pleasure

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 11, 1999

  Movie Critic Recommendation

'Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me'
Austin Powers (Mike Myers) is back to fight Dr. Evil in "The Spy Who Shagged Me." (New Line)

Jay Roach
Mike Myers;
Heather Graham;
Rob Lowe;
Robert Wagner;
Seth Green;
Phil Hawn;
Clint Howard;
Kristen Johnston; Verne Troyer; Elizabeth Hurley
Running Time:
1 hour, 35 minutes
Vulgar language, brief nudity and adult themes
Folks with fragile funny bones, weak stomachs and the slightest sense of shame are unlikely to make it through "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me." Devotees of Mike Myers's 1997 James Bond spoof should start camping out in front of theaters right now.

Yeaaaah, baby! Dreams do come true. "Austin Powers" No. 2 is perhaps even more puerile, phallic and potty-joke-filled than its predecessor, "International Man of Mystery." With its outrageous double-entendre, gonzo performances and appalling lack of restraint, the sequel is more than a guilty pleasure. Laughing – make that honking like a stoned goose – seems to call for absolution from a priest.

That doesn't mean that Myers's new movie is a cinematic marvel. It suffers from the same ills as most comedy sequels: recycled gags, worn catch phrases and characters that aren't as fresh as they used to be. Myers adds new bits, turns the plot on end and, wisest of all, focuses this yarn on Dr. Evil (Myers, blanched and bald).

No. 2 begins where the original left off: The shagadelic one, chest pelt very much in evidence, has just bedded his bride (Elizabeth Hurley) when she suddenly turns on him. Alas, his true love is not a real woman at all, but a dangerous "fembot" armed with secret bazooka gazongas.

Though Austin survives the incident with his manhood intact, he soon discovers that his mojo (the source of his lust for life, love and the ladies) is missing and Dr. Evil's got it. The megalomaniac and his crew – new henchman Fat Bastard (Myers again), his hairless cat, Mr. Bigglesworth, and Mini-Me (Verne Troyer) – travel back to London circa 1969 to disable the cryogenically frozen hero.

Aided by CIA operative Felicity Shagwell (Heather Graham in hot pants), Austin must follow his arch-nemesis back to the past, retrieve his mojo and thwart Dr. Evil's fiendish doomsday plan. Shagwell quickly falls for the toothsome Austin, but her most memorable tryst is with Fat Bastard.

British intelligence has ordered her to place a monitoring device on the morbidly obese, baby-eating Scotsman, and there's only one way to get close to the big guy. A bag of haggis apparently won't do the trick. So prepare to be revolted.

Clearly, Myers, his co-writer Michael McCullers and director Jay Roach are out not only to surpass themselves but also to challenge comic competitors like the Farrelly Brothers. Indeed, "The Spy Who Shagged Me" makes the Farrellys' "Something About Mary" look like an adaptation of a Jane Austen novel. Whether this is where we as a civilized people should be headed in the millennium, I cannot say.

Bawdy comedies have been sliding down this slippery slope ever since Mel Brooks passed the beans a quarter-century ago in "Blazing Saddles." The Zucker brothers subsequently upped the ante in the "Naked Gun" franchise, and the Farrellys followed with "Dumb & Dumber." Scatological humor, however, has reached its apotheosis in "Austin Powers" No. 2.

The movie's more sophisticated shtick involves Dr. Evil's increasingly tangled domestic affairs. Though he's never really approved of his son, Scott (Seth Green), the father-son dynamic worsens when the madman bonds with his tiny clone, Mini-Me. The little fella even has a mini-Mr. Bigglesworth and a remote-controlled command chair just like Daddy's. Sibling rivalry ensues.

"Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me" also returns to favorite targets like Burt Bacharach, British dental care and the silly conventions of 007 movies: the villain's sprawling underground lair, their minions in matching jumpsuits and those willing babes with nasty names. In this case, it's Ivana Humpalot (Kirsten Johnston). What can I tell you: Ivana Watchalot.


© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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