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Austin Powers: Goldmember

Mike Myers' best movie since Wayne's World?

Even against your better judgement you can't help enjoying the third installment in the Austin Powers series. The decade-hopping backdrop provides a built-in excuse to abandon all pretence of moderation or good taste, and the result is a big, flashy, over the top riot of a movie. Goldmember plays like a cross between the a seventies action movie, the classic studio musicals of the thirties and forties and a Bollywood comedy. Big production values, a constant barrage of highly choreographed action sequences, and a succession of song and dance numbers. Add in a few John Woo-style fight sequences, an impressive supporting cast, and Mike Myers trademark combination of physical comedy and witty pop-culture references, and you have a movie so funny that even a preview audience full of difficult-to-please journalists laughed their collective asses off throughout the movie.
Speaking of the supporting actors, the casting of veteran Michael Caine is nothing short of brilliant. Goldmember is essentially a modern parody of a particular brand of very British, stylized, self-consciously hip movies that Caine made throughout the sixties and seventies. It's an old truism that effective parody is based on a genuine affection for the work being parodied, and this movie is no exception. Watching Myers and Caine play off of each other, you can't help but remember an era when every British kid wanted to be as cool as Michael Caine when he grew up. The roles that Caine played in movies like Get Carter and Alfie are the prototype for Austin Powers, the shagadelic International Man of Mystery. Although it's impossible to go into his role here without giving too much of the plot away, let's just say that his relationship to Myers in the movie is so perfect it almost brings a tear to your eye.

Although Caine of course dominates every scene he's in, the rest of the supporting cast more than hold their own. Particularly notable is Destiny's Child singer Beyonce Knowles, in a role that's a witty homage to blaxploitation flicks like Cleopatra Jones. Knowles quickly lays to rest any fears of an embarrassing Mariah Carey-like film debut. In fact, she may well be the first known example since Sting in Brimstone and Treacle of a pop star who can actually act (and she's funnier than he is too). Decked out in sexy seventies gear and copper-colored afro and looking like Pam Grier's mini-me, she functions as much as a sidekick as a love interest - as smart, sassy and ass-kicking a heroine as you could possibly ask for.

Overall, Goldmember is a return to form for Mike Myers, and is arguably the funniest thing he's done since Wayne's World. The cast is solid, the jokes are laugh out loud funny (although you'll have to be a serious media junkie to get all of them) and it looks gorgeous. The only real downside is the continued presence of the rather tiresome Fat Bastard character, whose every appearance provoked much groaning amongst the preview audience, and a few too many toilet jokes in general. Watch out for a series of hilarious cameos at the beginning and the end of the movie, and some cute little outtakes during the final credits. It's not exactly highbrow entertainment, but when it's this funny, who cares?



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Austin Powers: Goldmember
Rated PG-13
1 hour 33 minutes

Mike Myers
Beyonce Knowles
Michael Caine
Michael York
Seth Green

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