Movie Review: Austin Powers In Goldmember

Image Source: Wikipedia

Written By: Mark Armstrong

Distributor: New Line Cinema
Production Companies: Gratitude International, Team Todd and Moving Pictures
Director: Jay Roach
Producers: Jan Blenkin, John S. Lyons, Eric McLeod, Demi Moore and Mike Myers
Scriptwriters: Mike Myers and Michael McCullers
Main Cast: Mike Myers, Beyoncé Knowles, Seth Green, Michael York, Robert Wagner, Mindy Sterling, Verne Troyer and Michael Caine
Released: July 26 2002
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Certificate: 12

And so we come to the third and final chapter of the Austin Powers trilogy! In 1997, the build-up suggested that Austin Powers would be popular but a bit of a niche film. In 1999, the sequel was more popular. By 2002, when Austin Powers 3 arrived, it had become one of the most anticipated films of the year, and the casting reflected this: Goldmember opens with a self-parody called Austinpussy (a take on the James Bond film Octopussy; other Bond homages are included in this film), and this scene features cameos by Steven Spielberg , Tom Cruise, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kevin Spacey and Danny DeVito (we also get a cameo by John Travolta later on). We then come to the real opening scene, an elaborate musical montage that includes another celebrity cameo by Britney Spears.

We begin by learning that Dr. Evil (Mike Myers) plans to go back in time again, to 1975 this time, and to bring back Johan van der Smut a.k.a. Goldmember (Mike Myers in his fourth new character of the trilogy) to help him in a plot to pull a meteor into the Earth that will strike the polar ice caps and cause global flooding. However, his plan is quickly foiled by Austin Powers (Mike Myers again) and both Dr. Evil and Mini-Me (Verne Troyer) are arrested. For this act, Powers is knighted but, to his disappointment, he realises that his father Nigel Powers (Michael Caine) is not present. He soon learns that Nigel has been kidnapped.

The only man with the answers about Nigel’s whereabouts is Dr. Evil, still imprisoned. After some humorous jail scenes involving Evil and Mini-Me, the evil Doctor informs Austin that Goldmember is behind the capture and explains where and when to travel back to for a rescue – but only if Evil and his miniature sidekick are released from prison, which Austin agrees to. We then go to 1975, and we realise that Nigel is very much of the same, flirtatious mould that Austin is, albeit a little older and ever-so-slightly wiser. We meet Goldmember, as well as one of his female sidekicks Foxxy Cleopatra (Beyoncé Knowles). Long story short, Goldmember takes Nigel with him into the time machine and back to 2002, whilst Austin is left to be taken out by Goldmember’s assailants. But Foxxy helps Austin escape and the two return to 2002 as well, where the plot takes shape and a trip to Tokyo, which includes a brief reappearance by Fat B—–d (yes, Mike Myers once again), provides details of what Dr. Evil and Goldmember have in mind, and also leads the two to finding and rescuing Nigel.

It seems like standard fare, then, as Powers and company look to quash Evil, but there are some changes. We realise that Austin and Nigel have some differences which could affect their chances of remaining on the same page. Meanwhile, Scott Evil has started living up to his surname and proving to be the son that Dr. Evil would finally appreciate, which not only sees their father-son bond strengthen, but also results in the Dr. Evil-Mini-Me relationship weaken, to the point where Mini-Me later joins Austin’s side (and hilariously turn into a Mini-Austin). It all comes down to one final showdown between Powers and Evil, the culmination of years of assassination attempts, destructive plots and all manners of time travel, and act as the true end to the Austin Powers trilogy. But, wait: there’s a twist. Not all is as it seems, and a stunning relevation changes everything. But there’s still a resolution to be found; how will this twist affect the climax as well as the future?

As stated, this film had been anticipated for a while, much more than the previous two entries. For this reason, it had a higher standard to live up to, and I felt that it did. I actually enjoyed it more the second time than I did the first, just because aspects of the plot seemed to make more sense then. The humour is of the same vein as in the previous Powers films, although the sexual innuendo is slightly toned-down in this entry. The story is of greater prominence this time around, although that isn’t to say that the comedy within the movie suffers; not at all. There are still plenty of funny moments, both verbally and visually, which range from Austin’s impossible-to-ignore mentions of a mole on the face of his team’s mole, Number 3 (Fred Savage), to some witty one-liners by Nigel Powers, to a ridiculous yet hilarious visual in Tokyo involving Austin, a fountain and – well, I won’t spoil it here.

The new additions to the line-up hold up their roles well. Knowles does a good job as Foxxy, and Michael Caine does a tremendous job of not only applying himself fully to the role of Austin’s father, but of actually out-shining his on-screen son at times. One would assume that the parent may be a distraction or a hindrance, but Nigel is a great character to join the fold. If anything, the only disappointing new character is actually Myers’ newest creation, Goldmember: he has some funny lines, but overall he is nowhere near as funny as Mike’s three other alter egos, and I found myself enjoying his scenes less than anyone else’s in the movie.

As a whole, I thought it was a very good movie and a worthy addition to the series. That being said, I thought it was a step down from The Spy Who Sh—ed Me; a fair number of the jokes feel forced, either by recycling material and not being funnier this time around, or just not being as funny as the cast clearly want it to be. It would have been better to have abandoned this material and come up with something new in those scenes, as they did with the Austin character: sex is not really on his menu in this film besides the original scene where he first finds Nigel, and instead we get a new, family relationship with Nigel, and as stated his jokes are overall really funny. I also thought that the time travel aspect was unnecessary; having dealt with going forward in film one and going back in film two, it just felt like a rehashed concept in film three.

Rumours continue to circulate that there will be a fourth movie in the series. It has been nearly 13 years since Goldmember now, so I doubt it happening, and I actually hope it doesn’t now. Myers wasn’t exactly a young man when the trilogy began, but I think the character would feel too old now. If some material misfired in Goldmember, I can’t see it working again in a new movie. Plus, without giving away the ending of the film under review here, the manner of its conclusion means that another film would feel odd; either some key plot developments would be ignored or we would lose some much-loved characters. And, besides, the Austin Powers character is essentially a 1960s swinger living in the modern age; the world has changed a lot since 2002, and with nearly a decade-and-a-half added to the time clock, how many younger people nowadays even know of what life was like back in the 1960s for some of the jokes to work?

So, I hope that Goldmember marked the end of the Austin Powers series and, if it did, it went out on a high. Despite my comments earlier, this is still a very funny movie and a satisfactory end to the trilogy. I just felt with watching this that it was the right time to bring the series to an end, and so whilst there would undoubtedly be a following and a tremndous amount of hype for a fourth movie, I hope that the Austin Powers tale culminated with this movie, Goldmember. If you want to see this film, I would suggest watching the previous two films first but, if you decide to just see this one, you will still enjoy it a lot.

Overall Rating: 8.5/10 – Excellent