MIKE MYERS knows and we know: "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me" is just a sequel. But instead of resigning himself to dreary reiteration, Myers has freed himself from the unspoken pressure to measure up against "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery." He's gone for broke, baby. And I think he's gone one better.
The simple reason? He's given himself license to riff. Not to mention license to promote. If you haven't seen Myers on the hustings, by now -- selling everything from Virgin Atlantic plane tickets to Heineken beer -- you do not own a television or a radio and you never leave the house.
The plot? Ha! Austin Powers has your plot right here, baby. The mission? Let's just say Austin has to travel back to 1969, where his own cryogenically frozen body has been deprived of its "mojo" by Austin Powers's archenemy, Dr. Evil (also played by Myers).
In a way, "The Spy Who Shagged Me" has followed the trajectory of the James Bond films it pays tribute to: It has advanced to the Roger Moore era, in which the story is a mere excuse for fun and games. There's a rampant looseness to this movie, and it's subversively liberating.
Just watch Dr. Evil appearing on "The Jerry Springer Show," re-encountering his estranged son, Scott Evil (Seth Green) to hoots, aaaaws and jeers from the TV audience.
"You're the Diet Coke of evil," complains Dr. Evil to his low-achieving son.
Or cringe as Austin mistakes a flask of stool sample for coffee. Or wince as he prances naked through London's swinging world, his privates strategically hidden by credit titles or large slabs of meat.
Although much time is spent between Austin and Heather Graham, as his new, sexy companion, CIA operative Felicity Shagwell, Myers and co-screenwriter Michael McCullers invest much of the comic oomph in the evil camp.
It pays off hilariously. Dr. Evil, who has found sponsorship from Starbucks, has just cloned himself a replica son, about one-eighth the size of Evil.
A vicious little scamp known as Mini-Me (played by the 2-foot 8-inch actor Verne Troyer), he has the same facial scar as his genetic pop, puts a very little pinkie to the corner of his mouth, and loves to flip the bird at Scott, his new sibling rival.
And then there's Fat Bastard, a rotund, bilious Scot played by Myers with a 70-inch waistline, grotesquely saggy flesh and the nastiest personality in the Northern Hemisphere. If you thought "Goldfinger's" Oddjob was a heavy, you'll never be the same after watching this dyspeptic chunker lying in bed after a bout with Felicity, his flesh smeared with grease, as he chomps on chicken. He also eats cloned children -- or tries to.
Passionate sparks fly between Dr. Evil and the Rosa Klebb-like Frau Farbissina (Mindy Sterling) up at the Starbucks HQ, and it leads to a hysterical scene on the morning after, as these two agents of diabolical evil make clumsy conversation like embarrassed lovebirds. "I can't let my feelings for you interfere with my plans to take over the world," says Dr. Evil tenderly.
Hey, I can afford to fill this review with such giveaways. There's plenty more where those came from. If you don't care for one gag, there'll be another one in a minute, just like a London double decker. Don't worry about the story, baby. Just slide over to Austin's pad, with all the psychedelic lights, the swinging chicks and -- in the middle of it all -- the shagalicious Austin Powers, shaking his bits and pieces, and laughing all the way to the Bank of England.
AUSTIN POWERS: THE SPY WHO SHAGGED ME (PG-13, 95 minutes) -- Contains humor ranging from saucy to extremely gross, and sexual situations -- of course. Area theaters.
CAPTION: Heather Graham and Mike Myers trip the light shagadelic.