Austin Powers in Goldmember

Austin Powers in Goldmember
Director: Jay Roach
Screenplay: Mike Myers & Michael McCullers
Stars: Mike Myers (Austin Powers / Dr. Evil / Goldmember / Fat Bastard), Beyoncé Knowles (Foxy Cleopatra), Michael Caine (Nigel Powers), Michael York (Basil Exposition), Seth Green (Scott Evil), Robert Wagner (Number Two), Mindy Sterling (Frau Farbissina), Verne Troyer (Mini-Me), Fred Savage (The Mole)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Year of Release: 2002
Country: USA
Austin Powers in Goldmember DVD Cover

The first of the Austin Powers movies was a moderate theatrical success in 1997, but it became a smash hit on video, where millions more discovered its quirky spoofing of swinging '60s British culture and spy-movie conventions. I would argue that the reason for this is because this particular brand of comedy works best through repetition and familiarity, when you know the lines and have seen it enough times to truly absorb all the details. That is when the Austin Powers movies are really funny.

Thus, it should come as little surprise that the third time around, Austin Powers in Goldmember, is funny, but slightly disappointing on the first viewing. Much like the second installment, The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999), there are a lot of expectations, and the movie ultimately doesn't live up to them. However, I have the suspicion that once Goldmember, like its predecessors in the series, is played dozens of times on DVD and various cable stations like TBS, its humor will reach the sublime level that is expected of it.

Of the three movies, Goldmember is certainly the most complicated plot-wise, although its plot elements are just as silly and ridiculous as the previous movies. In this one, the intractable Dr. Evil (Mike Myers), still a misguided dork crossed with an evil genius, has a plan to use a "tractor beam" to draw a meteor into hitting the earth and melting the polar ice caps, thus causing a worldwide flood. In order to do this, he must travel back in time to the shimmering disco era—1975 to be exact—and recruit Goldmember (Myers ... again), an ultra-weird, ultra-tanned roller-skating Dutch émigré with a silly lisping accent and an obsession for all things gold.

Just as Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997) skewered the pop culture of the late 1960s, Goldmember makes great use of the hedonistic ridiculousness of the mid-'70s, introducing Goldmember in an over-the-top roller-disco club called Club 69 and sending shagadelic superspy Austin Powers (Myers, of course) after him dressed in full pimp regalia, complete with floppy hat and platform shoes. There, Powers runs into an old flame, Foxxy Cleopatra (played by the gorgeous Destiny's Child lead singer Beyoncé Knowles), who is less a character than she is an amalgam of every kick-ass Pam Grier blaxploitation trope in the book (she even declares "You're under arrest, sugah" whenever she gets a bad guy), but with an added element of sweetness. Knowles is much more comfortable in the movie than Heather Graham was in The Spy Who Shagged Me, but one cannot help but feel that she has been given too little to do.

Again, Mike Myers and former Saturday Night Live scribe Michael McCullers have collaborated on the screenplay (they cowrote both of the previous movies) and Jay Roach is directing. They expand on various character relationships (as much as that is possible in a movie this absurd), and the theme here seems to be lost fatherhood. Dr. Evil's angry and unappreciated son, Scott Evil (Seth Green), finally finds a way to connect with his dad (by being more evil, of course), which pushes Dr. Evil's 1/8th-size clone, Mini-Me (Verne Troyer), out of the picture. At the same time, Austin is forced to reconcile with his father, Nigel Powers, a swinging superspy himself, who is played in a feat of brilliant casting by Michael Caine, whose character Harry Palmer in The Ipcress File (1966), Funeral in Berlin (1966), and The Billion Dollar Brain (1967) was one of the original templates for Austin Powers.

By this point, it is clear that Myers is running out of new ideas, as Goldmember self-consciously recycles in various guises many of the best jokes from the previous movies, including a moment in which two characters are behind a screen and their interacting shadows appear to be doing something absurdly grotesque. Myers is still a master of the bizarre, though, and his jokes about Goldmember and his Dutch background are supremely weird (do the Austin Powers movies not play well in the Netherlands?). And, while he does engage the scatological from time to time (there are two extensive jokes that revolve entirely around urination), including the return of the massive Scottish spy Fat Bastard (Myers ... yet again), Myers doesn't get quite as gross as The Spy Who Shagged Me.

The movie's best sequence, however, isn't saved for last; instead, it opens the movie. It involves the making of a massive cinematic opus about Austin Powers and features a litany of star cameos that reads like Premiere magazine's annual power list (I wouldn't dream of giving them away since each one's revelation is part of the enjoyment and the humor). The fact that Myers could recruit so much of Hollywood's royalty to take part in his inner-spoof is testament the cultural cachet the Austin Powers series now wields. And, even if the series has just about lost its mojo (and its dwindling originality), Goldmember is not a bad way to go out. It's not exactly a blaze of glory; but, like the others, we can look forward to its playing better and better once it goes into heavy rotation on the small screen.

Austin Powers in Goldmember infinifilm DVD

Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
Subtitles English
DistributorNew Line Home Entertainment
Release DateDecember 3, 2002

2.35:1 (Anamorphic)
Austin Powers in Goldmember is presented in a shiny new anamorphic widescreen transfer that shows off the movie’s gaudy colors and elaborate visuals. The image is sharp and clear throughout, with fine detail (check out the freckles and flaking skin on Goldmember’s face) and excellent color saturation, from the bright red and blue of the Union Jack flag on Austin’s car to the shimmering golden hues of Club 69.

The film is also available in a separate “full screen” DVD.

English Dolby Digital EX 5.1 Surround
DTS ES 6.1 Surround
Dolby 2.0 Surround

The disc features both Dolby Digital EX 5.1 surround and DTS ES 6.1 surround soundtracks. Both tracks are excellent in terms of clarity, fidelity, and surround effects, making ample and aggressive use of the surround speakers. The DTS track has a slight edge with the additional channel for center surround. The opening action sequence features some good imaging and directionality, while the funky ’70s-themed songs sound rich and full throughout.

As with the previous releases in New Line's infinifilm series, this DVD offers a clever interface that allows the viewer to engage with the supplements while watching the movie. If you choose to watch the infinifilm version of the movie, at various times a blue menu bar will appear along the bottom half of the screen with one or two supplement options that relate to the scene you're watching. By selecting one of the options, you are temporarily taken out of the movie and into the particular part of the supplement (the menu bar not only tells you what the supplement is, but also how long it runs). As always, you can watch the supplements separately if you choose. (All of the supplements are presented in anamorphic widescreen unless otherwise noted.)

Audio commentary by writer/star Mike Myers and director Jay Roach
Although the movies they make are quite hilarious, this screen-specific audio commentary by Mike Myers and Jay Roach is a little dry. They have some funny comments here and there, but neither of them sound particularly invested in the commentary. Perhaps they feel like they’ve already said all there is to say about Austin Powers?

Beyond the Movie featurettes
Each of these featurettes runs a few minutes and looks at a particular aspect of the film’s production. First, there is MI-6: International Men of Mystery, a four-and-a-half minute look at the real-life inspirations behind Austin Powers and James Bond (the so-called British “gentleman spies” who emerged just before World War I). Most of the information comes from Ernest Volkman, author of Espionage: The Greatest Spy Operations of the Twentieth Century. Next up is English, English, a two-and-a-half minute look at what is, in my opinion, one of the funniest scenes in the movie in which Mike Myers and Michael Caine speak in a series of British idioms and expressions called “Cockney Rhyming Slang.” In the four-and-a-half-minute Disco Fever, we get behind-the-scenes footage of filming the Studio 69 sequence, historical disco footage, and interviews with Mike Myers, music executive Danny Bramson, music supervisor John Houlihan, and costume designer Deena Appel. Finally, Fashion vs. Fiction is a brief two-minute look at the film’s outrageous costume design with department head hairstylist Candy L. Walken, production designer Rusty Smith, and costume designer Deena Appel.

Fact Track
This is an optional subtitle track that offers tidbits of trivia about everything from details of the film’s production, to historical information about the 1970s, to the percentage talent agencies generally take as a fee.

The World of Austin Powers
This section of the disc is divided into five subsections. The first is a six-and-half-minute featurette titled Jay Roach & Mike Myers: Creative Convergence, which essentially focuses on how well Roach and Myers work and improvise together. It also looks at the difficulties of shooting scenes in which Myers plays more than one character and the set design of Dr. Evil’s lair. Confluence of Characters is further subdivided into brief featurettes focusing on each of the major new characters: Goldmember (4 min.), Foxxy Cleopatra (4 min.), Nigel Powers (2 min.), and Masters Powers and Evil (5 min.). Opening Stunts is a two-minute look at what are some genuinely impressive stunts in the opening sequence, including interviews with the stuntmen and -women and rough video footage of the stunts in progress. The Cars of Austin Powers runs for two minutes and is exactly what it sounds like: a look at the various cars in the movie, including that fantastic pimp mobile. Finally, Anatomy of Three Scenes contains fairly in-depth behind-the-scenes looks at the filming of three major sequences, “Dancing at the Gates,” “Roller Disco,” and “Sumo Battle.”

Visual FX Segment
This four-minute featurette is hosted by visual effects supervisor Dave Johnson, who takes us quickly through all the movie’s major special effects shots, showing us the various stages and the final product.

Deleted / Alternate Scenes
As fans of the Austin Powers series know, Mike Myers and Jay Roach tend to write and shoot a lot more footage than is ultimately used in the film. Included here are 15 deleted and alternate scenes comprising more than 20 minutes. Some of the included footage runs less than a minute, but some scenes run three or four minutes. Each scene includes optional audio commentary by director Jay Roach.

Music Videos
Four music videos are included: Beyoncé Knowles’ “Work It Out” (1.33:1), Britney Spears’ “Boys” (1.33:1), Ming Tea’s “Daddy Wasn’t There” (nonanamorphic 1.78:1), and Dr. Evil and Mini-Me’s “Hard Knock Life” (nonanamorphic 2.35:1).

Includes four teaser trailers and the original theatrical trailer.

DVD-ROM Content
Includes Re-Voice Studio in which you can record your own voice in 12 different scenes and access to online features.

Copyright © 2002 James Kendrick

Overall Rating: (2.5)

James Kendrick

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