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IN SHORT: Put Heather Graham in a pair of hotpants and Cranky can sit through anything. [Rated [PG-13]]
Normally, we would begin with the usual disclaimer: "Cranky makes no comparison to the Source Material," but if you walk in to see Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me without any knowledge of what you were getting into, you wouldn't last five minutes. In this particular case, it is important that I make comparisons to Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery 'cuz I royally screwed up on the last one.
That means when the first Austin Powers flick was ready, Cranky watched it in a private screening room rather than waiting the extra day to see it with a paying crowd. [Even now, I see most flicks in "all media" screenings, which mix critics and real folk who got their passes for free]. Watching that flick, even in a very comfortable chair, without the aid of any enhancements became stupefying after about half an hour. When y'all went to the theater, the flick did very well. On video, however, Austin Powers blew the Block out of Buster. If you are anything like everybody I know that rented and then bought the tape, that means you got blissfully blotto before viewing. Cranky's no hypocrite. I got blotto for Animal House and, had I not been sober for a decade, I probably would've gotten blotto for Austin Powers.
Mike Myers has said he wanted to make a "midnight movie" with the first flick, which means the zero rating I gave it was dead on the money. Had I watched with a less critical audience, I think I still would have been bored silly after about half an hour, but the rating would've been up at about the "rent it" level.
Which brings us to version two, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, seen with close to a thousand people in one of New York's largest theaters. Once again it's Powers versus arch nemesis Dr. Evil, both played by Myers. This time, the bad doctor has journeyed back through time to steal the very essence of what gives Austin his Powers -- his mojo. No mojo, no sexual drive. No sexual drive and this superspy is just another hairy monkey with bad teeth. The setup is filled with clever parodies of every spy flick/ teevee series ever made; a couple of Yiddish-isms and the shocking revelation that Jerry Springer is the true cause of Evil in this world! Yeah, baby!
But for Austin Powers, to save the world, he must first rescue his mojo - for a hairy monkey without a mojo is a sorry thing to see. Supplied with his own personal time travel machine (that looks like a groovied up Herbie the Love Bug) it's back to the final days of the Swinging Sixties, where the groovy party to end all groovy parties continues at AP's bachelor pad, even though he's been in deep freeze for two years. As I wrote, you've got to know the first flick.
In the Sixties, Austin avoids the first of many assassins (Gia Carides as Robin Swallows; later Kristen Johnston as Ivana Humpalot) sent to kill him by Dr. Evil and makes a professional rendezvous with CIA agent Felicity Shagwell (Heather Graham).
Felicity, if you couldn't guess, is a randy little horny chick. Austin, as we know, is shag-challenged. That leaves little but dick and bum jokes and lots of changes of settings, from the Earth to the Moon. Myers refuses to tread old ground, setting a limit of "three" on the number of times he repeats a joke. Austin's first jaunt with Shagwell, involving a fairly funny open air run-in with Mustafa the Immortal Assassin (Will Ferrell), turns that decision into its own gag. There are a number of other humorous gags involving the potency of Powers' mojo and the sexual proclivities of Dr. Evil's hangers on. All sort of familiar stuff and totally painless.
The net result was that Cranky lasted a full forty five minutes before he got bored -- that's about the time that Myers decides to tell the same [male private parts] joke in as many slang ways as possible. Try it. Start with "Little Richard" (one of the few that he didn't use) and see if you can hit two or three dozen. Then wait for the rest of the gags dealing with the other side of the biological tract. Some of 'em are very funny. But Cranky ceased to be fifteen, mentally, many moons ago. It gets tired fast.
Even so, I did enjoy AP2 a lot more than AP1. Myers has come up with a dynamite pair of new support characters, a diminutive clone of the villainous Dr. Evil named "mini-me" and a grossly corpulent Scotsman named Fat Bastard. Myers again plays the bad doctor and adds FB to his cast of characters. Verne Troyer as Mini-Me is hilarious find. Cameos by Willie Nelson, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Hurley, Burt Bacharach and Elvis Costello don't hurt either.
If you went ape crackers over the first Austin Powers, add two bucks to Cranky's rating, which brings the sucker up to dateflick level. As for me . . .
I prefer the quietude of rental and private enhancement. Heh Heh. Yeah Baby.
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