Like the original film, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me is a fun romp that mocks 60’s pop culture and Bond films. While it recycles quite a few jokes from the original, there’s enough new material here–and enough fun in seeing the familiar characters–that Spy lives up to its only claim–to be not bigger, not better, but funnier than Star Wars: The Phantom Menace…and in some ways, more fun.
The story once again pits Austin (Mike Myers) against his arch-nemesis, the indefinably accented Dr. Evil (also Myers). After a ridiculous but amusing plot twist to rid Austin of his new bride, Vanessa (Elizabeth Hurley, in a game cameo), Austin is back on the case, this time tracking Dr. Evil back to 1969, where he has gone to swipe the frozen Austin’s “mojo” and thus render him powerless.
While the loss of his mojo doesn’t seem to affect Austin much (there’s really only one scene in which his lack of mojo figures prominently), he still has his hands full tracking down Dr. Evil, who’s residing in his “hollowed-out volcano.” Luckily CIA agent Felicity Shagwell (Heather Graham) is there to assist him. While Graham does a competent job as Austin’s sidekick (her intelligence upstages Austin’s, in the same way Penny on Inspector Gadget was the real reason Gadget always succeeded), she doesn’t mesh with Myers as well as Hurley did–and her American accent seems strangely out-of-place.
However, there are several new characters to spice things up. Before leaving the 90’s, Dr. Evil has himself cloned–but the clone is a mere 1/8 his size. He dubs this creation “Mini-Me” (Verne Troyer). A hilarious dwarf that gives off, as Dr. Evil puts it, “creepy Oompa-Loompa vibes,” Mini-Me is much funnier than the disgusting Fat Bastard (Myers yet again), a Scottish double-agent for Dr. Evil that weighs “a metric ton.” While Mini-Me’s vicious nature and flat-out creepiness, combined with Dr. Evil’s fatherly affection for the little monster, makes for some of the film’s best laughs, the toilet humor surrounding Fat Bastard is utterly sickening. Watch out for the “coffee scene.” There’s no need for it.
The film’s best laughs come from a wonderful scene, of a type not found in the first one, when Austin and Felicity are caught in a compromising silhouette. No, it’s not what you’re thinking–it’s much funnier than that. Other amusing scenes include Dr. Evil’s rendition of Will Smith’s “Just the Two of Us” to his precious tiny clone and Dr. Evil’s reaction to a sip of Austin’s mojo.
There are a few problems in the film. The most obvious is the lack of the fish-out-of-water theme from the first film; once Austin’s back in the 60’s, the film begins to drag a bit. There’s also too much of Dr. Evil–he definitely has more screen time than Austin, unlike the original film. This is unfortunate; a little Dr. Evil goes a long way. However, since Dr. Evil is vastly funnier and more interesting than Austin, his overuse is forgiveable.
The aforementioned toilet humor does go overboard too often. But it’s made up for by scenes like the silhouette.
Overall, the film is about as funny as the first one–it recycles some old jokes, but makes up for them with new ones. While the fish-out-of-water theme is lacking, the switch to a focus on Dr. Evil–it could almost be called “Dr. Evil: The Spy Who Came After Me”–creates some balance. But most importantly, it’s fun.