Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me - rated - TEPID

Austin's Diminishing Powers

Not as funny as the first one, and I think I know why. The first Austin Powers movie relied heavily on novelty. Austin was such a ludicrous figure that simply looking at him (and his terrible teeth) was enough. Now we have the same basic setup again, and Mike Myers can't just get by on one joke, even given his considerable charm and extreme cheek.

Austin Powers 2 is much more revolting than its predecessor. The toilet humour is pitched even lower than usual: it seems aimed at 8-year-olds, and the sex humour is not aimed much higher. Body parts are the important thing here. In fact, one of the films funnier set-pieces concerns contrived ways of hiding Austin's "rude bits" while he cavorts naked around a hotel.

But don't get me wrong: there's plenty to chuckle at in this film. And a few things to admire. The sixties go-go party was great to look at and really conveyed the sense of innocence and abandon that we like to remember from those days. Austin's VW car is a delight (what better vehicle to travel from the nineties to the sixties in?), and his entry to the sixties party is pure joy (reprised later in the film).

There is a funny set-piece involving intense pain, similar to the scene in Austin Powers 1 where a man slowly burns to death in a dungeon. I'm still worried that I found that hilarious, and now I'm laughing at a man with 2 broken legs! There's also a running joke involving the shape of the space probe which is pretty funny, especially given how far it is stretched, and the use of cameo appearances.

However, Myers tends to hog the limelight too much. The "Fat Bastard" character clearly owes some kind of a debt to Alexei Sayle ("Who was that fat bastard?"). But wouldn't it have been better if Alexei had actually played that character (preferably without the makeup, thankyou very much)? Robert Wagner hits exactly the right note again with his performance as "Number 2", and Rob Lowe is unrecognisable, but effective, as the younger "Number 2".

I liked Myers' idea of adding a disaffected teenager as a commentating voice, but it didn't quite come off as it might have, with more care. All in all, the film felt like a series of sketches quickly dashed off and then strung together - more appropriate for Saturday Night Live than cinema.