Film Reviews:

Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me

(Mike Myers, US, 1998)

The amount of in-jokes in the first three minutes is staggering, from the opening Goldfinger rip-off to the all too real Jerry Springer Show parody. It's hardly surprising therefore that after a while this relentless mugging becomes a little tiresome, even if the standard of gags remains high. In this sequel to the global hit Austin Powers International Man of Mystery, our dentally challenged hero has to contend with Dr. Evil cloning himself into the half-sized 'mini me' and a plot to destroy the world that spans decades via Dr. Evil's time travel machine. We also discover that Dr. Evil is the main man behind the global presence that is the Starbucks coffee company!

Of course, there is plenty of slapstick, sexual innuendo, fart gags and sexy femmes fatales leading Austin astray, while the plot plunders the James Bond movies ad infinitum and spy/action movie cliches are as essential to the plot as they are targets of the script writers. Myers portrays an eclectic array of larger than life characters, giving him the opportunity to exercise his accent talents. The Scotsman known only as Fat Bastard is especially memorable - largely because he is as scary as he is funny - Myers virtually unrecognisable under acres of prosthetic make-up. Compared to the first film, the gags have descended deeper into the realms of toilet humour, but again the hit rate is impressive. There are just so many visual and verbal homages, gags and other tiny idea touches that, on several occasions, the film is at severe risk of imploding under these trivialities. Favourite moments include the and the "This coffee smells like shit" jokes. But the pièce de resistance is the buggy stuck in the narrow corridor. Tears were rolling down my face, and that image kept returning to me causing me to burst out laughing again. So, to the question everyone has an opinion on: Is is better than the first film? On balance, probably yes, if not at least because this has even more ideas than the first outing. Yet it is a close call. Obviously, this merely stretches everything that was in Austin Powers 1, but it does it with terrific style and a shed load of belly laughs.

Austin Powers 2 Region 2 DVDRegion 2 DVD

One of the Entertainment in Video releases in the UK, this has a reasonable set of extras. The animated menus, although based around simple lists of choices, are made more interesting with little Austin Powers heads (specially shot for the DVD release) popping up saying things like "Choose baby - yeah!" or Austin himself swinging his arms to point to the menu options. The usual 'Making of' featurette is here broken down into 7 short themed sequences like: "Introductions and Influences", "Cameos" and "Dr. Evil and The Time Machine". There's also are a staggering 21 outakes! You can choose to watch them individually or sequentially and uninterrupted. The edits are largely understandable - usually falling into the 'trying to push a gag too far' category. But there are a couple of occasions when you wished they'd been left in the final cut.

There's a (not particularly well) 'hidden' moving menu (with background music) that takes you to four brief extras related to the Dr. Evil character and three music videos. Beautiful Stranger by Madonna (featuring Myers as Austin Powers), American Woman by Lenny Kravitz and a cover of Cameo's Word Up by 'Scary Spice' Melanie G. So few complaints on the extras front, but the audio on the disc is mastered to the limit. It could have been my modest home set up just not coping, but there were several times when loud explosions caused the speakers to distort badly. The film is presented in the 16:9 ratio and has English subtitles.

Rob Dyer

See also:

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
any Bond film
In like Flint

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