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Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me

More of the same

By Teresa Huang

Directed by Jay Roach

Written by Mike Myers, Michael McCullers

With Mike Myers, Mike Myers, Mike Myers, Heather Graham, Seth Green, Robert Wagner, Rob Lowe, Verne Troyer

When Mike Myers first used bad teeth and a moppy wig to become the international spy Austin Powers, the world didn’t quite know what to make of him. With box office returns of less than $10 million on its opening weekend, the film was quickly dismissed by movie critics, though not by growing number of fans. The explosion came when the movie was released on video and sold over 3 million units, landing Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery in the No. 1 spot on the list of best-selling videos in 1998. With such an elevated status, Mike Myers would be nutty to not cash in on the craze by creating a sequel.

And Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me is quite a sequel, becoming the first movie to topple Star Wars: The Phantom Menace from its cushy number one box office spot. With almost twice the budget to work with, Mike Myers joined forces again with director Jay Roach to bring Austin Powers back to the silver screen in a film that grossed more in its first weekend than the first movie did in its entire run.

Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me opens with Dr. Evil (Myers) returning from his Big Boy starship. Through the convenience of a time portal, Dr. Evil goes back in time to steal Austin Powers’ (also Myers) mojo, leading Austin to go back in time to find Dr. Evil. While back in the swingin’ sixties, Austin finds a new companion in CIA agent Felicity Shagwell, played by Heather Graham (Lost in Space, Boogie Nights), who helps him get his mojo back.

That is generally the plot, though that’s not what this movie’s about. The movie is about celebrating everything that has grown to be associated with Austin Powers, including groovy costumes, spontaneous humor, the spirit of the sixties in Britain, and catchphrase fodder for Austin Powers imitators. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me is hardly a sequel but rather two hours of completely indulgent Austin Powers fun. This film succeeds because it’s well aware of what a farce it is and it doesn’t try to be anything more than purely entertaining.

Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me quickly establishes more of the same material that made the first movie a cult hit -- phallic humor, coy pop culture references, puns, and well-placed cameos. Burt Bacarach reprises his appearance, this time with Elvis Costello. Not seeking to be a film classic in any sense of the term, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me is very now, with countless references to recent films like There’s Something About Mary and Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. Entertainment news have reported that 40% of the film was improvised by the cast, and this definitely shows. New priceless moments are created, like Dr. Evil bouncing a rubber globe off Rob Lowe’s head and Fat Bastard’s (also Mike Myers) rendition of the Chili’s song about baby back ribs, which will never sound the same to anyone who sees the movie. The entire experience is so enjoyable, you’ll even forgive Heather Graham for not even trying to act.

The film’s one downfall is that it eventually seems to be too much of the same, with very little new material. The comedy feels a bit rushed at times as the film quickly shifts from one laugh generator to another. But even that doesn’t detract from the success of the film, since audiences aren’t looking to reinvent Austin Powers anyway. With tons of pure slapstick, absurd comedy, and gross humor, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me is exactly what fans were hoping for.