Austin Powers in Goldmember

Starring Mike Myers, Beyonce Knowles, Michael Caine. Directed by Jay Roach.
Running Time: 94 mins
Rated: M
Mike Myers produced the first Austin Powers' film in 1997. It was a lightweight and cheeky spoof on the James Bond films. It made an unexpected $70 million. He followed it with Austin Powers 2 in 1999 which made $312 million. With money of this order rolling in they had to make a further sequel and in just eight weeks on release overseas Austin Powers in Goldmember has already made $267 million. It seems that even though these films have progressively got more crude, offensive and dull, they have become escapist mainstays. I already despair at what the fourth instalment is going to be like.

There are about 30 gags in this film. Twenty of them involve toilet humour. It's all about exploiting the cheeky laugh of puberty. As we might expect from the title of the film another 10 or so gags are about male genitals. I wonder what sort of reception this film would get if it concentrated on women's genitals in the same way? This time around the material is much more crude. The names of the characters tell some of the story. From the second film Fat Bastard makes a flatulent return and is joined in this film by Dixie Normous, Goldmember, and the Japanese twins, Fook Mi and Fook Yu. Austin Powers in Goldmember is also quite explicitly racist. The Dutch and Belgians cop it in spades. I dare Myers to do a similar job on the Israelis and Nigerians in the next film.

Myers looks desperate in Goldmember and so nothing is out of bounds. The problem here is that the best comedians know how important discipline is to their craft. Myers looks as though all he is doing now is taking the money and running. These films have now taken on such credibility that Tom Cruise, Gwenyth Paltrow, Stephen Spielberg, Dick Van Dyke, Brittany Spears, Quincy Jones, John Travolta, Ozzy Osborne, Kevin Spacey and Danny Devito all make cameo appearances. Furthermore the product placement in this film is shameless. Jaguar, Starbucks and Heineken, just to name a few, have all paid big bucks to be in this film. It is, I am afraid, guilt by association for all concerned.

I wish I could dismiss Austin Powers as theatre of the absurd, except he is not good enough to be classified in this venerable tradition. In the meantime young and not-so-young Australians will flock along to Austin Powers in Goldmember and so ensure that sexist and racist jokes are fine as long as we put on a 1970's outfit and a silly voice.

And the plot? Does it matter? Well for the record, Dr. Evil (Myers) and Mini-Me (Verne Troyer) join up with the Dutch madman Goldmember (Myers) to plot yet another scheme to rule the world. They kidnap Austin's lecherous father Nigel (Caine). To stop the threat Austin Powers (Myers) has to travel back to the 1970's and find Goldmember. Here he meets with an old girlfriend, detective Foxy Cleopatra (Knowles) and together they save the world.

Richard Leonard SJ

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