A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 287 – Austin Powers in Goldmember

Austin Powers in Goldmember – December 12th, 2010

And so we come to the end of our Austin Powers weekend. I’ve got to say I think this one is my favorite. Bizarre, I know, but it has two connected storylines I love and it has Michael Caine. Seriously, how could I not love Michael Caine? Anyhow, it has some bits I like, a fun female lead, some time travel, some flashbacks and sharks with frikkin laser beams on their heads. What’s not to like? Aside from more Fat Bastard and the titular Goldmember?

No, I still don’t like Fat Bastard here. I gave my reasons why yesterday and they still apply here. As for Goldmember, I’m pretty sure he’s supposed to be creepy and discomfiting. I’m almost 100% certain that’s his point in the movie. He eats his own skin flakes and has a gold fetish and an awkward high pitched laugh. And I don’t know, I just find him more cringe-inducing than funny. He has a line or two, but mostly he’s just bizarre. Fortunately, like the first movie and the second movie, the bits I find unfunny are outnumbered by the bits I find hilarious.

Now, by the third movie it’s fairly clear that Dr. Evil will come up with a convoluted plan to take over the world and Austin Powers will thwart him somehow. A new sexy female companion for Austin will show up at some point and a new villain sidekick will show up too. Puns will be made, sex will be talked about, nostalgia-based references and humor will abound. And so it goes here. Except Austin thwarts Dr. Evil in the beginning, right at the outset, and is knighted for his efforts, bringing in a family plot that I love. Austin’s father skips the knighting ceremony, setting off a wave of daddy issues for Austin. Eventually Dr. Evil and Mini Me escape from jail and then the movie goes as expected, with Austin gaining his new companion, Foxy Cleopatra, from the 1970s, and Dr. Evil gaining Goldmember from the same time period.

It’s the family stuff I really enjoy here. Austin and his father, Scott Evil and Dr. Evil. They’re great combinations of characters and casting and when everything comes to a head and Scott goes full on Evil it’s just perfect. I love Seth Green as Scott and he does a great character arc here, from Dr. Evil’s skeptical son to the heir to the family business (that would be the business of evil). He even gets his father sharks with frikkin’ laser beams. It’s fantastic. And then there’s Austin and his father, played fantastically by Michael Caine. Adding to all of that are some flashbacks to Austin and Dr. Evil (as well as Number 2 and Basil Exposition) all at school together as boys. It’s great fun and some good humorous character development for a comedy.

Of course there are the usual dick jokes and sex jokes and poop jokes and puns and fourth wall breaking gags (like the unreadable subtitles that Austin messes up). It’s that sort of movie. And it’s not at all unexpected. Verne Troyer is still great as Mini Me (and I love his fight scene with Austin) and Robert Wagner is still great as Number 2. I still like Michael York as Basil and I actually really like Beyonce Knowles as Foxy. The meta opening, with the Austin Powers movie opening being filmed by Stephen Spielberg, is a fantastic bit of inanity full of cameos, and if you look close you can spot two actors from Heroes in small roles. So really, I can handle two characters I’m not fond of. Just like in the other movies, there’s enough funny to block them out and keep me laughing.

December 12, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Austin Powers: Goldmember

Austin Powers: Goldmember

By the time that Mike Meyers and Jay Roach had reached the third movie in this franchise they had absolutely mastered the format. This movie spends almost as much time making fun of itself as it does making fun of the spy movie tropes that spawned it. The completely over-the-top Hollywood style opening credits with big name stars taking the roles of Austin Powers, Dr. Evil and Mini-Me set the tone for the entire movie – it’s going to be a self-referential feast of hilarity for fans of the other two movies that is bigger and more outrageous than anything that’s come before.

As with the second movie in the series Mike Meyers adds another new character here for himself to play. This time it’s the gold-mad dutch playboy Goldmember (who has lost his genitalia in an unfortunate smelting accident.) I suppose it’s a good thing that Mike and Jay didn’t go on to make any more movies in this series, because soon there would be no actors besides Mike in any scene, and it would take weeks to film every one because you could only shoot one angle per day. This movie represents the absolute furthest that you could go with the Austin Powers paradigm, so it has to be the grandest, most ridiculous, most madcap of them all – which it is.

This movie has a more unified central theme to it than the other two. While those are pretty much just a series of gags that lampoon the spy movie genre this movie has at its heart something to say about the relationship between father and son. I seem to recall seeing somewhere that this movie was written very much for Mike’s own father – especially the scene where Austin and his dad Nigel speak in Cockney rhyming slang. There’s the rivalry between Mini-Me and Scott from the second movie which comes to a head here. There’s Austin Powers’ own issues with his legendary super-spy absentee father. And it’s all woven into the usual plot by Dr. Evil to ransom the world – this time using a tractor beam to smash a gold asteroid into the polar ice cap, flooding the Earth.

Austin’s arm candy this time around is Foxxy Cleopatra – a reference to the blacksploitation films of the seventies – played by Beyonce Knowles. She is absolutely my favorite “Powers Girl” because there is so little flirting between the two of them. Aside from a kiss at the end and a scene where she uses Nathan Lane as an intermediary to accuse Austin of leaving her once long ago there she is not so much there to be the object of Austin’s lust, and more to repeatedly pull his bacon out of the fire. I love Beyonce’s performance. She’s totally into the character and kicks every kind of ass. Shazam!

The other major new character in this movie is Michael Caine as Austin’s father Nigel Powers. Nigel powers is a legendary super-spy even greater in reputation than his own groovy son. There’s one scene when he’s been captured in Dr. Evil’s submarine lair where Nigel berates a henchman for daring to point a gun at him. “Do you have any idea how many anonymous henchmen I’ve killed? And you don’t even have a name-tag – you have no chance.” Caine performs him as such a suave, cool, completely experienced super-spy that you never doubt that he could accomplish absolutely anything. He’s just fun to watch.

There is some recycling of jokes from the other two movies but with a self-aware twist. The gag with the spaceship that looks like a giant Johnston (the guy who monitors the radar in the World Organization command room, played again by Clint Howard) is replaced with a giant pair of “Boobs!” says Ozzie Ozbourne “They’re just using the same joke from the last movie!” And when Dr. Evil starts to taunt Scotty with one of his “zip it” tirades Scotty wearily says “Oh, we’re going to do this again. Let me do what I do.” There’s even a scene where Dr. Evil finally gets the frickin’ sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads that he wanted way back in the first movie.

I enjoy this movie from start to finish. It’s crammed with funny gags, much faster paced than either of the other two movies, and pretty much never lets up. It pushes the borders of what can be accomplished in an Austin Powers movie to the absolute extreme. Furthermore I never really felt like there was a joke that fell flat. When I saw this the first time in the theater there were parts that actually made my sides hurt, I was laughing so much. This is my favorite of the Austin Powers movies, and I kind of hope that they don’t make any more, because I can’t see how they could possibly top it.

December 12, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , | Leave a comment