12 September 2003 | Poseidon-3
The gold is a little tarnished
The first Austin Powers film was so fresh, zany, charming, witty and unique. It took some time for many people to catch on (hence it's legendary video rental record), but it was dazzlingly, mesmerizingly adorable. The sequel came out and rather tarnished the prior film by either dumping or revising various story elements and especially by taking a turn towards the crude and vulgar. Still, it had it's share of interesting moments and laughs. In this third installment, the goodwill is almost completely gone. What remains is a hopelessly indulgent, often foul and unfunny conglomeration of "jokes" and gags, many based on bodily functions or other off-key subjects. That is not to say that the film doesn't still deliver quite a few laughs. It's just that by now, the whole enterprise seems very worn and familiar. There are several truly funny sequences in the film, but mostly it is saved only by some surprising and "right on" star cameos and the fresh appeal of Knowles. The (typically) ludicrous plot kicks off with Powers having to rescue his father (Caine) from the title character by travelling (too briefly) to 1975. Then the whole parade of series characters is involved in either starting or stopping the world's total destruction. Myers is undeniably brilliant at creating various characters and giving them each a voice of his own. He succeeds in creating these people who seem real unto themselves. Unfortunately, he also is bent on catering to what has to be a 13-year-old boy target audience with endless, endless potty jokes and gross out gags. Some of them are very amusing. Some of them are just gross. After a short while it becomes overkill. Knowles (who is certainly no "actress") comes across as very attractive and surprisingly charismatic on film. Her character is mostly decorative, but she serves the purpose very, VERY well. Her take-no-prisoners attitude is refreshing, even if she is continuously shown being kicked in the face. By now, Myers is so much the whole show that previous supporting cast members (Sterling, Green, Wagner, York) can barely get a word in. Who knows how much of their stuff was cut in the hour-plus of leftover material, but certainly plenty of Myers was left in. It's hard to imagine the lengthier cut because this one seems interminable, even with the bright spots. The opening sequence is brilliant. The character named Dixie......hilarious full name. Other creative and funny bits occur throughout, but the film can not escape it's pall of crudeness and alienating self-indulgence.