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Goldmember (July 24/02)

Goldmember, the third and possibly last Austin Powers flick, suffers from the same problems that plagued the first sequel. While the original was a witty and intelligent parody of various spy movies, the sequel relied mostly on pee-pee and poo-poo jokes. It was still essentially entertaining, though; Mike Myers created some very likable characters who can thrive even in a more juvenile atmosphere. Now, with Goldmember, Myers has again brought back all the familiar faces (and even added a few new ones) but never becomes anything more than a mere shadow of the original.

The movie opens with what turns out to be its funniest gag (I won't spoil it for that reason), and quickly moves into a plot that has something to do with a gigantic laser and the destruction of earth by Dr. Evil (no surprise there). The only hitch is that Austin's finally managed to capture Dr. Evil and send him packing to a Silence of the Lambs-esque prison. But, given that he's an evil genius, the good doctor arranges to have Austin's father kidnapped and sent to the past by a fellow super-villain named Goldmember (also played by Myers). So, Austin once again travels through time and hooks up with a '70s era Pam Grier type named Foxy Cleopatra (Beyonce Knowles).

Goldmember, like The Spy Who Shagged Me, is less of a sequel and more of a parody of the original film. Myers has taken these characters and turned them into caricatures of their former selves. The overloaded plot doesn't allow for character development or quieter moments; the film barrels ahead from one over-the-top setpiece to the next. Part of what was so enjoyable about the first film were sequences in which characters would sit around and plot. Quirky character elements that populated the original, such as Dr. Evil's revelation that his father accused chestnuts of being lazy, are completely absent here, replaced by over-the-top shenanigans. The film moves at an incredibly fast clip, but still manages to drag in the last half hour due primarily to the overblown storyline and abundance of characters.

Still, there is a lot worth recommending about Goldmember, particularly for fans of the series thus far. An early sequence, featuring Austin, Dr. Evil, Basil Exposition, and Number 2 as teenagers, is certainly a lot of fun and provides us with the origins of several well-known elements of the films (Austin's male sign pendant for one). Likewise, the appearance of Dr. Evil's much sought-after sharks with laser beams attached to their heads is easily a comedic highlight. But the most impressive thing about Goldmember is Michael Caine, appearing as Austin's father Nigel. Though he's extremely limited in his screen time, Caine manages to steal all his scenes as Austin's equally horny father. Knowles, in her film debut, is surprisingly competent as Foxy Cleopatra - though her speech patterns are often far more contemporary than they should be.

Goldmember is a perfect companion piece to The Spy Who Shagged Me - it's dominated by jokes that aren't terribly funny and abandons the more absurd nature of the first film's comedy. However, Goldmember is a must for fans, as the last fifteen minutes are chock full of revelations that will completely alter how these characters are perceived. But at least one character goes through a change that struck me as being completely wrong, given what we've come to learn about this person.

What it really comes down to is this: If you loved the first flick, you probably won't care much for this one. But if you're one of the many that thought The Spy Who Shagged Me was a laugh riot, Goldmember should be right up your alley.

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