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All that glitters is not Gold Member

01/09/2002. Contributed by Frank Ochieng

Buy Goldmember in the USA - or Buy Goldmember in the UK

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Yeah ... baby! Are you ready to endure the same ol' exploits with the randy rogue Austin Powers? How about going on a permanent mission in an attempt to put the four-eyed goofball spy out of his misery ... please.

Austin Powers in Goldmember
film by Frank Ochieng
Date Released: 07/26/2002
Rated: PG-13 (for sexual innuendo, crude humor and language)
Length: 92 minutes
Produced by: Suzanne Todd, Jennifer Todd, Demi Moore, Eric McLeod, John Lyons, Mike Myers
Directed by: Jay Roach
Cast: Mike Myers, Beyonce Knowles, Seth Green, Robert Wagner, Michael York, Verne Troyer, Mindy Sterling, Michael Caine
Distributor: New Line Cinema

What can one say about star Mike Myers and his pop cultish pipsqueak creation Austin Powers? After all, a majority of moviegoers continue to treasure the goofy antics of the international man of mystery and his valued mojo.


Hence, that's why Myers and director Jay Roach return to the scene of the crime by collaborating on yet another surefire, moneymaking project in the third installment of the movie franchise entitled "Austin Powers in Goldmember". And to boot, the cheeky supporting cast are back to add to the numbing and nonsensical insanity in this overwrought gagfest.

Let's face it...Myers and Roach are not fools and graciously welcomed the opportunity to capitalize on milking what appears to be another guaranteed comical cash cow for this tired and over-indulgent movie series. Although the eurphoria is apparent for Austin Powers-mania, why risk the need of squeezing out another installment of a revered movie character dangerously looking to overstay his cinematic welcome in exhausting fashion?

It has been three years since the last Austin Powers vehicle in 1999's "The Spy Who Shagged Me", a belabored and lukewarm sequel to the original 1997 predecessor. Hmmm...guess the demand for the British shagmeister was much too strong, huh? Oh well, I suppose I'm the silly goose who's nervy and naive enough to question the inevitable box office dynamo that is "Austin Powers in Goldmember".

Most "Austin" enthusiasts will rejoice at seeing the gang back in action such as Dr. Evil (Myers) and his bickering offspring Scott (Seth Green) and Mini-Me (Verne Troyer), Dr. Evil's devoted assistant Frau Farbissina (Mindy Sterling), Number Two (Robert Wagner), Powers' superior Basil Exposition (Michael York) and the glorious tub of grimacing goo himself--the notorious Fat Bastard (Myers).

And to sweeten the pot this time around, this punishing farce desperately sprinkles a bunch of big name star cameos (pay attention all you Tom Cruise and Britney Spears fans) in an obvious attempt to fatten up the otherwise familiar, scatterbrained material. Suggestive and insipid toilet-trained in-jokes and forced sight gags aside, "Austin Powers in Goldmember" is pretty much an elaboration of the same jerky joyride that was so occasionally effective in its previous wacky incarnations.

In this jubilant but aimlessly free-for-all spy spoof involving the toothy shagster, we find Austin Powers still trying to tangle with his bothersome arch enemy Dr. Evil and his calculating cohorts. Also on the agenda is the newest villain by the name of Dutchman Goldmember (also played by Myers), a Eurocentric cretin who snacks on patches of skin while boasting a glowing golden rod where his once private part was situated (gee, how quaint!).

Goldmember isn't particularly as colorful as Austin Powers' other nemesis Dr. Evil or Fat Bastard. Thankfully, Myers was astute enough to fortify the script with the presence of hilarious bad boys Dr. Evil and Fat Bastard because Goldmember has all the ruthlessness and appeal of a smelly sock with holes in its heel.

When the groovin' Austin Powers isn't messing around with combating his triple teaming of troublemakers in the likes of Goldmember, Fat Bastard and Dr. Evil, then he's sent off by Basil for another mission that sends him into a mid-seventies frenzy via the funky vibes of that era. There, he meets and greets an Afroed-hottie by the name of Foxxy Cleopatra (Beyonce Knowles from the super singing group Destiny's Child). She works at Goldmember's disco digs known as Studio 69.

Foxxy Cleoparta, a hot-blooded sistah reminiscent of the blaxploitation babes portrayed by the likes of actresses Pam Grier, Tamara Dobson and Theresa Graves in the '70's, is a soulful sleuth working undercover as a vocalizing vixen. Both Powers and Cleopatra strut around looking like disjointed and dressed-up associates of Huggy Bear from an old episode of "Starsky and Hutch".

Eventually, Austin and Foxxy forge a connection that ultimately takes them on a collision course to deal with what's on the agenda at hand: the rescuing of Powers' estranged superspy dad Nigel (Michael Caine) from the dastardly element and the continued battles to save the world from villainous vermin Dr. Evil and hired hand Goldmember.

Myers and his co-scripter Michael McCullers definitely have a darn good time with the overly naughty and giddy overtones of the film's makeup. However, "Goldmember" frequently suffers from an awkward presentation. There are a few clever and hilarious sequences that are regrettably sporadic but nevertheless welcoming.

For instance, one will get a kick out of the scene where Dr. Evil and sidekick "son" Mini-Me engage in a warped prison musical with hard-nosed inmates in recognition of "It's A Hard Knock Life" from "Annie". Or when Fat Bastard partakes in a sumo wrestling contest in Tokyo and looks utterly gross in the process. These two instances mentioned are terrific examples of when this film celebrates its blasphemy in riotous, confident mode.

But for the most part, "Goldmember" feels so busy and congested at times that one wonders whether or not the string of shticky moments taken place aren't too labored or overbearing for its own good. Clearly this installment is more energized and garrulous than the other two previous flicks.

This third "Austin Powers" sequel wants to binge on the latest cockeyed concept that presents itself but the voracious appetite for easy cheap laughs feels routinely monotonous.

There's nothing borderline about the derivative indulgences involving pokes at body functions and the predictable humor regarding "member"-oriented double entendres. Gee, where was the screenplay written for this fizzling flick--in the men's room at the local Y.M.C.A.?

Consequently, it's safe to say that Mike Myers has played the one-note joke about a wandering wayward spy and his shagging ways to the exteme of the movie crowd's consciousness. Whether one will dismiss this Blighty lounge act that Myers has successfully concocted or embrace it with open arms, this persona and all that is an Austin Powers well-oiled machine will variably run out of steam soon much like a defective sauna room.

Just where can Myers go with this supercilious spy and his cache of kindergarten-induced kookiness? The answer: probably on to a fourth sequel with even more money-grossing clout tied up in a tiresome recycled formula. Quite scary if you ask me, that's for certain!

Overall, the supporting cast are reliable and hold up their end of the insanity taking place on screen. By now, the "Austin Powers" players have gravitated to their roles with noted enthusiasm.

Knowles, whose leading lady credentials are wickedly in check despite being part of this piffling picture, does a fantastic job at taking a shot of satirizing the "Get Christie Love"-like roles that dominated the big and small screen for empowered black actresses looking to break out artistically in this polyester period.

And to cast the omnipresent Michael Caine as the aging swinging parent to a cad like Austin Powers is an inspired move indeed. Caine practically made his calling card by constantly playing intriguing agents in the '60's in a handful of potent espionage dramas. Much like Knowles, Caine has perverse fun in mocking the image of an overdone genre.

Frothy and fractious yet hopelessy fragmented with an overdose of the same nutty nuances that propelled the other predecessors to pop culture purgatory, "Austin Powers in Goldmember" delivers the clunky goods but without much punch despite the surge of highly touted cameos to go along with the richness of raw, perfunctory punchlines.

Here's a hint for the handlers of the next Austin Powers vehicle should they continue to ride this gravy train: "Austin Powers in You Only Shag Once, Not Three Times" or "Always Say Never to a Shaggy Sequelitis Again!".

Frank rates this film: ** stars (out of 4 stars)

(c) Frank Ochieng 2002

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