Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Inexplicable Movie Review: Austin Powers 3 (GOLDMEMBER)

Note: Spoilers follow for the entire Austin Powers movie series.

So! Karen and I finally rounded out our viewing of the Austin Powers trilogy with the third movie the other night. While it wasn't as bad as I remembered, and actually enjoyable in some parts, it definitely feels like a movie that squandered an opportunity.

Austin Powers 3 is actually named after Goldmember, who's seemingly the main villain of the film. However, he's relegated to a fairly minor role because of all the other characters they have to cram in, either for cameos or full roles - Dr. Evil, Nigel Powers, Foxy Cleopatra, Scott Evil, Fat Bastard... As a result, Goldmember never really feels fleshed out. (Also, he literally peels his flesh off and eats it, which is somehow way more disgusting and not as funny as Austin drinking shit in the second movie.)

The back-burnering is the movie's biggest flaw. Since there are so many characters they have to include, pretty much none of them get all that much shine. Dr. Evil, Scott and the Powers family get the best lines and most development, and a movie centered around them would have been much better. Michael Caine as the father of Austin Powers is on-the-nose casting and works great.

The series as a whole gets a bit of a knock at times for just being crap humor (literally) and gags, but the first two movies actually have their good, subtle moments. You know, like when Austin tells Basil that Vanessa was a fembot. "Yes Austin, I'm afraid we knew all along. *long beat.* Anyway, your next assignment..." The first two movies simultaneously spoofed and embraced what you'd expect from a spy movie.

In contrast, the third movie is just kind of stupid and obvious, especially with its meta moments. The opening is fine, with camera mugging by Tom Cruise, Paltrow and especially Danny Devito. However, we then get the same "aren't we funny to be self-referential?" thing another half dozen times throughout the movie.

Also, there is a clear reason why Beyonce got out of the acting game, except for biographical music videos. She is just so meh in this. It would be one thing if she was hammy and bad - that would have been perfect for an Austin Powers movie. But she's just kind of there for the ride.

Part of it is bad writing, since she isn't given much to do. She gets kicked in the face by Goldmember three times, for example, whereas Vanessa and Felicity were portrayed as much more competent agents. Oh well. There is a big singing number for her at least, and predictably, she does knock that out of the park.

- This is the last movie I ever received on VHS for a gift. I think even by this time, I had a DVD player, but for Christmas my parents could only find the vhs or something. I did buy some more tapes at a Blockbuster closing sale a few years later, but otherwise Austin Powers 3 was the closing act on VHS for me.

- I did watch the deleted scenes for this movie, and as usual, they left some good stuff on the cutting room floor. This includes a creepy song with a Rob Lowe cameo, and a genuinely funny Scott Evil moment asking about sitting in the head chair.

- Not included in the deleted scenes of this DVD release was one allegedly shot, which had Heather Graham (Felicity) explaining why she dumped Austin. That's always a weird, glaring thing to me about the third movie. It's a scene that literally would have taken 30 seconds to include, in a movie that already runs close to two hours.

- Two aspects of the movie that have not aged well at all - The Osborne family cameo, and Dr. Evil's "Hard Knock Life." Both feel pretty forced and not especially funny.

- Dana Carvey wasn't in this movie, but he was in Wayne's World with Mike Myers. That's close enough for me to acknowledge that his Nerdist episode was really awesome. If you're looking for 90 good minutes of Carvey, definitely check it out. He talks frankly about his impersonations, his career lull and the Wayne's World movies, and the effect they had on him.

- After seeing Austin Powers 3, I'm a bit more bullish on an Austin Powers 4. It could definitely work and be funny! Plus, even though the third is "only" about 15 years old, there have been such technology jumps again that there is plenty of fertile ground for Austin / Myers to till. You know, like Austin on Tinder, or playing Pok√©mon Go. 

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