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[whitespace] 'Austin Powers'
Hoop-Earring Dreams: Austin Powers (Mike Myers) ogles Foxxy Cleopatra (Beyoncé Knowles) in the newest installment of the comic franchise.


'Goldmember'--the least and hopefully last of Austin Powers

By Richard von Busack

THIS TIME, the assistant villain to Dr. Evil is a Dutch swinger whose penis was gilded in a smelting accent. Naturally, Mike Myers plays Goldmember--who else has made such gelt out of dick jokes? Austin Powers in Goldmember retreads old material: the comedic highlight is a recycled version of the obscene shadow-puppet routine. Here, though, Myers has moved away from the twerpy quality that made Austin a likable fish out of water in the first film. The newest Austin is a dirty-joke song of himself. Playing four roles, Myers stars as Powers; as Goldmember, with a saliva-laden accent; as the disgusting Fat Bastard; and as Dr. Evil, who doesn't seem to have much going on this time: his new plan is titled "Preparation H," a scheme to flood the world by means of a meteor attack on the North Pole.

While Myers brings on the pecker gags and the lowest dialect comedy (how about a pair of Chinese twins named Fook Mi and Fook Yu?), the film is nothing but a tissue of sketches laden with celebrity cameos. Austin makes a quick and pointless detour to 1975 to pick up agent Foxxy Cleopatra (Beyoncé Knowles of Destiny's Child). Beyoncé wears those 1970s threads with flair, and she has beautiful eyes, although they always seem to be darting around looking for direction. But she's basically a sidekick--a beard to deflect the audience from suspiciousness about Myers' love affair with himself.

Levity does arrive in the moments where the other actors get a chance at bat. Seth Green, as Scott Evil, sports an eloquent look of disgust (appropriate when Myers masticates a particularly ancient gag). As Mini Me, Verne J. Troyer stooges well. Michael Caine has a few scenes as Austin's long-lost father, Nigel, with whom he has issues and needs to bond. Caine is much cannier at taking over a scene because he's not on the way Myers is. There's no desperation in him--and so much of this film is desperate. The production design by Rusty Smith is imaginative, including a submarine in the form of a colossal statue of Dr. Evil, docked off the coast of a fantasy version of Tokyo. His models provide some of the few moments in the film where it looks as if a little money was spent.

Austin Powers in Goldmember is the kind of movie that comes in the wake of a monster hit, featuring a comedian riffing past the point of no return. Yes, Myers can be funny, but neither he nor his director, Jay Roach, knows how to leave a joke alone without stretching it, repeating it, reprising it, stopping the film to explain it, reprising it again and then commenting, wonderingly, that it hadn't quite gone over this time around. And the constant product placement is not so much shagalacious as whore-riffic. When talent this egocentric turns serious--and it will turn serious--look out below. (Expect Myers' Holocaust movie sometime by 2005.)

Austin Powers in Goldmember (PG-13; 96 min.), directed by Jay Roach, written by Michael McCullers and Mike Myers, photographed by Peter Deming and starring Mike Myers, Mike Myers, Mike Myers, Mike Myers and Michael Caine, plays valleywide.

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Web extra to the July 25-31, 2002 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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