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Cut a Shag Rug: Mike Myers and Heather Graham dance to a '60s beat in 'The Spy Who Shagged Me.'

Mike Myers will do anything for a laugh

By Richard von Busack

HELPLESS LAUGHTER or helpless repugnance--apparently, it's all the same to Mike Myers, whose second Austin Powers film, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, demonstrates a frantic entertainer's desire both to please and to slay the audience. In this opus, Austin, secret agent for M.O.D., is newly widowed. He heads back to the 1960s to rescue his "mojo," his manly essence, drawn out by Dr. Evil (also Myers) with the help of a time machine. With his nemesis incapacitated, Evil schemes to built the dreaded Alan Parsons Project--a jumbo laser designed by scientist Parsons--on the moon to extort a huge sum of money from the president (Tim Robbins). Aiding Evil are his henchmen: Fat Bastard (again Myers, in a gross joke that won't die) and his diminutive clone, Mini-Me (Verne Troyer). Razzing him is his studiously gen-X son, Scott (Seth Green, of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, probably my favorite male actor under 25).

There's enough irresistible, grimy vaudevillian comedy here to recommend the film. As a hopeless James Bond fan, I noted all the loving references to the series, including steals from the pre-title sequence of Goldfinger and You Only Live Twice. A parody of the chess game in the 1968 film The Thomas Crown Affair is an instant classic, and there's a delightful cameo by Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach performing "What Do You Get When You Fall in Love?" A car ride through "rural England" (Mulholland Drive) spurs Austin's suave, out-of-nowhere comment "One thing about England--it doesn't look like Southern California." The sight of a London phone booth, perched shamefacedly by the cliffside next to the chaparral and eucalpytuses, was the funniest gag in the whole movie.

But you'd probably have to be as self-obsessed as Myers to overlook the sensational Heather Graham (as Felicity Shagwell), who embodies an entire decade's worth of the fresh, adorable young starlets who invigorated the delirious swinging-'60s movies Myers is honoring. Graham seems to have the best qualities of Ann-Margret and Goldie Hawn as the young women they once were. She even has the soft physique of the '60s woman; unlike a lot of the modern beauties, she doesn't look like she could turn a bullet with the muscles of her midriff. But Graham gets lost in the shuffle whenever Myers gets into his interminable gag spinning. I mean, he'll flog jokes that are absolutely primordial, straight off the pages of Playboy's Party Humor ("Do you smoke after sex?"). Myers stretches out a dick joke or a toilet joke past the point of agony, and that's only devastating if you're 12. The nervous energy of the film is so much like roller-coaster-ride entertainment that I know it'll be a big hit, but I have the same problem with this movie, which I mostly liked, as I do with the other more violent roller coasters: I want some quiet, some breathing space, some time to listen to Elvis Costello, time to register a joke before Myers explains it, time to get a longer look at Heather Graham.

Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (PG-13), directed by M. Jay Roach, written by Mike Myers and Michael McCullers, photographed by Ueli Steiger and starring Mike Myers, Heather Graham and Seth Green.

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From the June 10-16, 1999 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 1999 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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