GOLDMEMBER has exactly one good laugh, at the beginning, before the
credits, in the cameo-laden, movie-in-a-movie amusingly titled AUS-
TINPUSSY.  (Said howler being the *fourth* of four, funnier-as-they-
go star appearances.)  The rest is dreck, albeit enthusiastically
performed dreck.  Returning director Jay Roach still can't direct
his way out of a paper bag, but there's a newly added sentimental
streak to scratch heads at.  (The plot involves the kidnapping of
Austin Power's father, energetically played by Michael Caine.)  Plus
the expected excess of urination, defecation, and flatulence jokes.
(The script is a psychological smorgasbord, what with the father
issues and endless anal references.  Calling Dr. Freud, indeed!)

There's some singing, too, with Myers-- now a bit pudgier and look-
ing winded at least once-- rapping as Dr. Evil in a mock music video
and, earlier in the movie, performing as Powers a pop-rock ode to
fraternal love.  If the whole thing's significantly less side-split-
ting than the last two times-- highly flawed films too, but far fun-
nier-- blame the relentless "fourth wall" breaking.  So much self-
referencing smacks of desperation-- gags shamelessly recycled, for
example, then calling *attention* to the recycling.  And sometimes
calling attention to the *attention-calling*.  Hip, maybe.  Funny,
not.  (Oddly, an anachronistic Viagra gag gets by without edit oral
comment.  Go figure.)

New to the franchise is Beyonce Knowles-- a singer, I believe-- and
whose lovely presence adds as little as Heather Graham's did last
time.  Myers plays an additional person, the funnier-in-name-than-
in-person title character.  (His most memorable trait is a comically
snug codpiece.)  Fred Savage, now grown and looking quite a bit like
Mel Gibson, has a good-sized part as a mole.  (Augmented, of course,
by a gigantic blemish for Myers many incarnations to do double-,
triple-, and quadruple-takes at.  Yawn.)  There's more of Verne
Troyer's Mini Me, too.  He gets funnier as the movie goes.  (And
later switches sides, turning into a pint-sized Powers.)

If I have to say something nice, the production values are consider-
ably higher.  (Dr. Evil's skull finally has the ghoulish hue it de-
serves.)  And Robert Wagner, returning as Number Two, proves the un-
expected scene-stealer, if sole for playing his scenes so straight.
How *does* he keep from laughing?  At least the closing credits are
(almost) fun, with a handful of outtakes and throwaway gags, one of
which catches the aforementioned Mr. Wagner in *drag* for a few fle-
eting seconds.  Now *there's* something you don't see every day.

Copyright 2002 by Michael J. Legeros



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