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  • Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002): ***½

    Directed by Jay Roach

    You know, the Austin Powers movies are quickly becoming like episodes of The Simpsons; they're all of about the same quality, which is pretty darned funny. Goldmember, the lastest Austin Powers movie, is just as funny (no more, no less) as the other two movies. And I thought they were pretty darned funny.

    I like the Austin Powers movies because they're one of the only places left where you get extended comedy routines in movies. Mike Meyers and his team will come up with a scenario and then milk as many funny jokes out of it as they can before moving onto the next sequence. That's vaudeville-style humor, and I can't think of another filmmaker who works in that genre right now, so I enjoy it very much. There are a couple of scenes in Goldmember that work really well like this: the fountain/pee scene and the latest silhouette scene with Powers and Mini-Me. They're great, rolling-around funny schtick.

    This movie feels different than the other two. The first one was the first one. The second one followed the form of the first one in specific ways so that you got to learn the Austin Powers formula. This one is therefore free to play around with that formula, and so is actually structured rather differently than the others (Dr. Evil even comments about how it's strange that he got captured during the first act in this movie instead of at the end—he comments about it in a hip-hop musical number of course). Also the conversion of nearly all the villains to good guys was a big surprise, so it'll be interesting to see what they do for the next one.

    Michael Caine as Austin's father is fantastic casting, and Caine kinda just walks through the role as if he's been doing it his whole life, which in a way he has. Unfortunately Beyonce Knowles doesn't really have that much to do in her role as Cleopatra Jones except a recurring gag where she gets kicked in the head by Goldmember (it happens like seven times). That was kinda disappointing. I was also a little disappointed by Goldmember himself. He's a funny character, but he doesn't seem to have all that much to do, and he never seems enough of a menace to threaten both Powers and Dr. Evil. He pretty much disappears during the second and most of the third act before resurfacing as the real villain again.

    So, yeah, this movie has a lot of problems like that, but it's just really, really funny. Not better. Not worse. Just like an episode of the Simpsons.

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