Summer movie roundup and recommendations

It takes quite a feat to wade through the crop of summer movies and come out on top, either content-wise or financially, but Mike Myers’ third manic adventure in the Austin Powers series manages to do just that.Now, there are a couple points that need to be cleared up before we go any further. As a “film reviewer,” I am not supposed to like this movie. I am supposed to take the moral and artistic high road and decry the Austin Powers series as puerile and childish fart-joke fests, inept attempts to pander to the lowest common denominator and pull a laugh out of the audience by stooping as low as possible.

Two words: screw that.

I personally enjoy a little stooping now and again. Plays hell with the posture, but who cares?

Mike Myers, that wacky Scarberian, caught lightning in a bottle in creating Austin Powers, and that lightning just keeps striking every time one of these things hits the theatres. Audiences just can’t seem to get enough of the swinging secret agent, and it would be easy for Myers to disappoint and leave us with a cinematic steaming pile that robs us once of our money and laughs in our faces for thinking that these sequels could keep up being as funny as the first. But he does not.

Austin Powers in Goldmember is funny, damn funny, and I don’t know what else needs to be said. It could be seen as offensive at times, yes (although not to this reviewer), and one thing Myers can always be depended on for is going back to the same joke as in a previous movie and trying to beat even more laughs out of it. But with the old must come the new. While there are some rehashed jokes, only the best from the previous two films are reused, as if Myers came up with more to the joke after the release of the first two and just felt like creating a situation to get them onscreen. But if they’re funny, none of us mind. And they are.

One of the other joys of the Austin Powers series is watching Mike Myers do his thing. Each progressive entry finds him taking on yet another character guise, with this third edition adding the titular Goldmember into the repertoire that already includes Austin himself, Dr. Evil (always, and perhaps still the most entertaining of the four), and Fat Bastard, the evil Scottish henchman, weighing in at a metric ton.

Goldmember, in the tradition of Fat Bastard, seems to have been constructed out of two separate, Mad-Lib-ish elements: a new nationality for Myers to play with (Dutch), and a physical abnormality that would look funny on film (golden and flaking). Not that these elements end up seeming slapdash, quite the opposite. Goldmember is a character quite able to hold his own against the established veterans.

And while we’re on the topic of guest characters, newcomers Beyonc Knowles of Destiny’s Child fame acquits herself well as Austin’s new love interest Foxxy Cleopatra, although she admittedly isn’t given much to do except look good and keep out of Myers’ way. Veteran Michael Caine also fits into the tapestry well as Powers’ father, Nigel.

Some will say that there is nothing new in the Austin Powers franchise, that the joke has run out of steam. And while they may not be everyone’s cup of tea, those who love them, love them a lot, and it is for those people that these films are made. Myers is one of the most gifted comedians working today, and if the continued longevity of the Austin Powers franchise is any indication, he will have a job in Hollywood for many years to come.

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