Rated PG-13 - Running time: 1:35 - Released 6/11/99

As anyone who saw Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery will remember, the premise was that British Bond-style spy Austin Powers (Mike Myers) and his nemesis, Dr. Evil (also played by Myers) were both cryogenically frozen in 1967. When Dr. Evil thawed out and returned to Earth from his orbiting spaceship headquarters (which looks exactly like the famous hamburger-wielding "Big Boy" from the restaurant chain), Powers was thawed out to deal with him. The film was a hysterical comparison between late-'60s mod and late '90s conservatism. Both characters had to be updated by their staffs on what changes had taken place in 30 years, such as the fall of the Soviet Union, the diminished value of the dollar, and the importance of proper dental hygiene. Also hysterical about that film were the recurring visual gags using forced perspective and, usually, nudity.

In Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Dr. Evil has invented a time machine to take him back to the '60s in order to steal Austin's "mojo" (sex drive, lust for life, spunk, chutzpah), so that Austin will be powerless to fight him in his quest to conquer the world. Austin follows him through the machine, so the two are thrown backwards 30 years, and now the joke is how '90s references confuse the characters who lived then. As in the first film, Myers's portrayal of Dr. Evil is considerably funnier than his Austin. Dr. Evil is a megalomaniac of the first order, but has great trouble getting his staff, and his son Scott (Seth Green), to give him the respect he craves. Austin is mostly just interested in "shagging" (sex).

Along for the second time are Evil's employees, Frau Farbissina (Mindy Sterling, Instant Comedy With The Groundlings), "Number Two" (Robert Wagner), and a very humorous cameo by the still-not-dead Mustafa (Will Ferrell). Added to his list are the young version of "Number Two" (played by Rob Lowe, but with Wagner's voice), and a clone of Dr. Evil (midget actor and stunt performer Verne Troyer), who is exactly like him in every way, including the bald head and silver jumpsuit, but only about 3 feet tall. Dr. Evil lovingly refers to this pint-sized version of himself as "Mini-Me" and treats him as a surrogate son, since his own offspring, Scott, can't stop harping on the stupidity of his father's methods. Another addition is "Fat Bastard" (also Myers), an obese Scotsman whose only function is to provide every type of gross-out humor possible, and he does so with distressing effectiveness. Joining Austin is Heather Graham as Felicity Shagwell, his American love interest, who seems to want to pattern herself after him as well as be his girl.

There are some who say this film, written by Myers and Michael McCullers, and directed by M. Jay Roach, is funnier than the first. It definitely continues the premise established in Man Of Mystery, reiterating the '60s-'90s comparisons, the use of camera angles to make everyday objects look like people's "naughy bits," and the hysterical family/relationship/staff problems of Dr. Evil. But where Man Of Mystery was funny like, say, Mel Brooks's Blazing Saddles (a bit raunchy but hysterical nonetheless), The Spy Who Shagged Me is much more gross, like Monty Python's The Meaning Of Life. You really have to be in a juvenile mood to enjoy the humor of Fat Bastard, and I think the addition of that character hurts more than helps the film. But the classic pop tunes are great, the laughs are plentiful, and I can't wait to see what lame, diabolical scheme Dr. Evil has planned for next time. ****

Copyright 1999 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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