These movies arrive on video store shelves this week.
*AUSTIN POWERS: THE SPY WHO SHAGGED ME
(PG-13, 1999, 95 minutes, New Line)
The plot to this Austin Powers sequel? Pull the other one, baby. It's got bells on! Let's just say the British Powers (Mike Myers) 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). This one's even more fun than the first because our shagedelic, yellow-toothed superspy and playboy -- now knocking around with CIA operative Felicity Shagwell (Heather Graham) -- has given himself license to riff. And the riffing extends to a great round of evil characters, including Dr. Evil's evil replica son, a vicious scamp known as Mini-Me (played by the 2-foot 8-inch actor Verne Troyer); and 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. Contains humor ranging from saucy to extremely gross, and sexual situations -- of course.
-- Desson Howe
(R, 1999, 126 minutes, Touchstone)
Cuba Gooding Jr. is psychiatrist Theo Caulder, who grabs the opportunity to study Ethan Powell (Anthony Hopkins), a primatologist currently housed at the Harmony Bay Correctional Facility for killing people in Africa. Seems Powell, whose hair and beard are long enough for ZZ Top membership, got a little too protective of those gorillas in Rwanda. When Caulder begins his cat-and-mouse sessions with Powell, a brilliant, ruthless individual capable of mind games with the best of them, you wonder sometimes if you've stumbled into "The Silence of the Apes." Still, it's a pleasure to watch both of them going at it. Hopkins is the perfect menace. And Gooding pushes himself as deep into this Walt Disney jungle of cliches as acting allows. Contains profanity and violence.
-- Desson Howe
TEA WITH MUSSOLINI
(PG, 1999, 117 minutes, MGM)
Based on director Franco Zeffirelli's memoir of his childhood and adolescence in Italy during World War II, "Tea" substitutes cheap sentimentality for honest emotion and ham-handed obviousness for subtlety. As a trio of eccentric Brit expatriates raising the young bastard son (Charlie Lucas at 7, Baird Wallace at 17) of a Florentine businessman, Joan Plowright, Judi Dench and Maggie Smith all give Herculean performances in an effort to inject some quinine water into this flat brew, but to no avail. As a cigar-smoking lesbian archaeologist and a vulgar former show girl, Lily Tomlin and Cher are well -- if unimaginatively -- cast, even if Cher's taut-beyond-belief features make her face sometimes look like a videotronic animation on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien." Contains light profanity and a briefly glimpsed derriere.
-- Michael O'Sullivan