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Vannesa Kensington: "Austin, do you smoke after sex?"
Austin Powers: "I donít know baby, Iíve never looked!"
And so begins our journey into the most anticipated sequel of the summer season. Austin Powers 2, the sequel to the sleeper hit of 1997, is filled to the brim with uproarious sight gags and lurid toilet jokes that will make you keel over with hilarity. The mind of Mike Myers is obviously a very bizarre place.
Myers returns as the swinging 60ís spy and his arch-nemesis, the bald headed Dr. Evil, who is given much of the spotlight here. Thereís an early scene in which Dr. Evil and his son Scott (Seth Green) appear on a Jerry Springer segment entitled My Dad is Evil and Wants to Take Over the World, hosted by Springer himself. Most of these talk-show gags, spoofing everything from Oprah to Regis and Kathie Lee, are no longer as funny as they once were. Happily, this is an exception, especially when a fight breaks out between Dr. Evil and the other guests. (Sample dialogue - "Come back here you mother #@%$^!! You want a piece of me?") The audience was in stitches.
There are many good things about this sequel. Dr. Evil is now assisted by Mini-Me (Verne Troyer), a pint-sized clone who is the result of an experiment gone awry. Mini-Me is the most perfect new character that any fan could ask for, and Troyer does a terrific job of mimicking everything that his big brother does, pinkie and all. Mindy Sterling returns as Frau Farbissina, Evilís loud-mouth assassin sidekick, and here we are treated to a brief romantic liaison between the two in an underground bedroom chamber. This works surprisingly well. Afterward, thereís even a meeting at the coffee machine, where their awkwardness is expressed in a scene you would expect in any normal office environment.
Oh, yes... the plot. After a short honeymoon with Vanessa Kensington (Elizabeth Hurley) that goes disastrously wrong, Powers is back on the case to thwart the diabolical plans of Dr. Evil. In the original, the subject of the day was cryogenic freezing that enabled the characters to hop between two time periods. Here, itís time travel. Dr. Evil has this crazy plan to steal Austinís mojo (the source of his sexual powers), so he jumps through a time portal back into 1969 when Powers is still is his freezing chamber. There, he employs a grotesque 600-pound Scottish assassin named Fat Bastard (also Myers) to commandeer the mojo, so that our future hero is left completely shagless.
Meanwhile, Austin is informed of Evilís wrong-doing by Basil Exposition (Michael York), and is supplied with his very own time-traveling device in the form of a Volkswagen Beetle. Once back in 1969, Powers meets a foxy CIA operative named Felicity Shagwell (Heather Graham), and learns of Dr. Evilís plans to destroy Washington DC with a lazer on the moon. In one of the many uproarious jabs at Star Wars, Evil calls the moon base a Death Star. If there ever was a movie that knew from the start it was a complete joke, itís Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.
AP2 has many hilarious moments, much more so, than the original Austin Powers. But what it doesnít have is the confident support system that the first boasted, and the jokes are now more scattershot and hit-and-miss. While Myers has a knack for delivering clever, inspired gags, he sometimes doesnít know when to call it quits. The hilarious scene in the original involving Mustafa (Will Ferrell) and his refusal to die is played out here in a disappointing and tired manner. Robert Wagner, as Dr. Evilís #2 man, has only one scene early on in the film, where he lacks all the focus of the character. One nice surprise is Rob Lowe, as the young #2, who patterns Wagnerís voice and movements right down to a tee.
There are more recycled jokes from the predecessor, including Kristen Johnston as Ivana Humpalot (an unfunny rendition of Alotta Fagina). But Myers has clearly put so much dedication into this project, and many bits are side-splittingly funny. Donít miss an extended visual gag in a tent, where the shadows leave much to the imagination....
Of the new characters, Graham doesnít leave much of an impression. Her performance is merely okay, and she lacks the gung-ho enthusiasm that made Elizabeth Hurley so enjoyable before her. And as for Fat Bastard... well, he provides one or two hilarious moments, but all of the obesity jokes and bathroom talk go too far.
But my most severe complaint: Mr. Bigglesworth was only in one scene!! But, with gritted teeth, I managed to get over that. This sequel will not leave fans disappointed; itís more often than not a laugh riot. And, I look optimistically to the future, where I foresee more installments to the Austin Powers collection. If Myers can up the quota of fresh ideas, we should be in store for much more.
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