Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. DVD

I’ve read several negative reviews of “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.” Their main gripe was that the sequel was just more of the same. Really? No kidding?

You see, that is the beauty of spoofing films like the James Bond series. Most of the Bond films were nothing more than mutant versions of themselves. Bigger budgets. Bigger set pieces.


Still, it all boiled down to either a madman or criminal genius holding the world for ransom. If you didn’t like the first “Austin Powers” film, then by all means stay away. There is nothing here for you. I loved the first Austin Powers film, “International Man of Mystery.”
austinpowers2
While I’m not as passionate about “The Spy Who Shagged Me,” I did manage to laugh a lot and leave the theater with a big grin on my face. I’m not one of those people who feel the need to put a gun to the screen and demand to be entertained. I love movies. Always have. Always will.

My formative years were spent watching the very films “Austin Powers” sends up, so there’s a special connection. I spent many Saturday afternoons watching double bills of “Matt Helm” and “Flint” movies. That’s why I find it immensely funny when Austin Power’s has the same phone ring as Derek Flint.

I get all of the references and in-jokes. I found myself laughing more often than not, and to me that is the bottom line. Parodies are a difficult beast to tame. They demand constant attention and affection. The best parodies (“Airplane” “Young Frankenstein”) always respect the source material while sending them up.

You have to believe in the premise for the outrageous comedy to stick. Neglect can lead to such disasters as “Repossessed.” Writer-star Mike Myers shows a lot of respect for the genre he is spoofing.

His approach is more of the wink-wink, nod-nod variety. He pokes fun at the rules of the game without feeling the need to rip the genre a new rear end. Like all Bond films, “The Spy Who Shagged Me” is bigger than the original. Production designer Rusty Smith does an excellent job of aping Ken Adam’s “You Only Live Twice” and “Moonraker” sets, while art director Alexander Hammond and costume designer Deena Appel nail that far-out, groovy 60’s look to a tee.

Their day-glow sets get a good workout in the Mike Myers-Michael McCullers’ script that picks up exactly where “International Man of Mystery” left off. Austin is enjoying his honeymoon with Vanessa (Elizabeth Hurley, only briefly) when unexpected circumstances free him from matrimony. Austin is now free to do the two things he does best: shag and spy.

There’s plenty of both as Powers’ arch-enemy, Dr. Evil (Myers, once again) returns from his cryogenic orbit, thawed and ready to wreak havoc. The thin as rice paper plot has Dr. Evil inventing a time machine and going back in time to steal Austin’s “mojo,” thus rendering him helpless in the present.

Austin is forced to travel back in time to stop Dr. Evil, and is assisted by agent Felicity Shagwell (Heather Graham, the right mixture of beauty and balls). Once again, Dr. Evil holds the world for ransom, threatening to blow it up city by city with a giant laser he has constructed on the moon.

The writers have lined “The Spy Who Shagged Me” with enough new jokes and characters to keep even the most adamant Austin Powers fan happy. Verne Troyer is absolutely priceless as Dr. Evil’s diminutive clone Mini-Me, while Rob Lowe does a killer impersonation of Robert Wagner, playing the younger version of Wagner’s Number Two.

Familiar faces return, including Seth Green as Dr. Evil’s son Scott, still dealing with his feelings about having a villain for a father. So distraught is Scott over his father that he goes on a Jerry Springer show entitled “My Father is Evil and Wants to Take Over the World.”

It’s nice to see Mindy Sterling’s Frau Farbissina expanded into more than a couple of lines. Sterling is such a gifted comedian that it was a shame to see her talents wasted in the first film. Here, she shines as the wicked Lotte Lenya-type from “From Russia with Love.”

There’s much to admire in “The Spy Who Shagged Me,” even if the toilet humor floats to the surface. The spirit of the film is engaging, and director Jay Roach manages to hit most of the intended targets.

Even though the film is lined with in-jokes and classic references, the humor is broad enough to please all age groups. One of my favorite bits was a cleverly edited sequence where people try to describe Dr. Evil’s spaceship. Myers looks to have another hit on his hands. Fans won’t be disappointed. Those looking for something more meaty, go to Sizzler.

COMPLETE CHECK-UP

VISION: Excellent

check.gif (406 bytes) 2.35:1 Widescreen

check.gif (406 bytes) 16:9 Enhanced

check.gif (406 bytes) Exemplary digital transfer. Thanks to a clean negative, the images are strong and solid. No flaking or compression artifacts whatsoever. Instead, look for brilliant colors, excellent saturation, realistic flesh tones and industrial strength blacks. The images are sharp and vivid, with amazing depth of field and attention to detail.

HEARING: Excellent

check.gif (406 bytes) 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround

check.gif (406 bytes) Dolby Digital Stereo Surround

check.gif (406 bytes) Pleasant, effective 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack recreates the theatrical presentation. Booming basses and crystal clear high and middle ends are dynamic. Clean, pure sound pours out of each speaker with authority. Front stereo split is awesome, while the front to rear spatial separation sounds accurate. All sound fields come alive with ambient noise, a strong dialogue mix and music cues. Rear speakers work overtime, delivering surround effects that are natural and realistic. No audio hiss or distortion.

ORAL: Good

check.gif (406 bytes) Closed captions in English for the hard of hearing.

COORDINATION: Excellent

check.gif (406 bytes) DVD extras that are almost as much fun as the film.

check.gif (406 bytes) Mike Myers personally contributed to the main and scene access menus, providing little quips as you jump from one screen to another. The scene access menus also feature clips from the scenes.

check.gif (406 bytes) 20 Minutes of deleted scenes, including a montage set to music. The scenes are a varied lot, but they are a lot of fun to watch. Most are Myers’ attempts at improv, some which fall flat. Others just flesh out previous scenes. This section also includes the coupling between Rob Lowe and Robert Wagner that was cut out of the film at the last minute.

check.gif (406 bytes) A lively, cheeky full-length audio commentary with Myers, director Jay Roach and co-writer Michael McCullers. Lots of laughs and some insights.

check.gif (406 bytes) A wonderful behind-the-scenes documentary that features interviews with all the principals, behind-the-camera and special effects footage.

check.gif (406 bytes) A cameo menu that lists the stars who pop in the film, and then allows you to click directly to their scene in the film.

check.gif (406 bytes) Cast & Crew bios and filmographies.

check.gif (406 bytes) Three full-length music videos from the film, including Madonna (“Beautiful Stranger”), Lenny Kravitz (“American Woman”), and Mel B (“Word Up”). I own and love the soundtrack, so it was a pleasure to see the artists perform the songs.

check.gif (406 bytes) Four theatrical trailers, including two teasers for the film, and the original “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery” trailer.

check.gif (406 bytes) A hidden page that will take you to the Comedy Central special “The Dr. Evil Story,” plus a menu where you can click on Dr. Evil’s musical performances in the film (“What If God Were One Of Us” and “Just The Two Of Us”). The page is hidden, and the only way to get to it is through the Special Features page. I won’t divulge the secret, but patience is a key factor in finding the icon.

check.gif (406 bytes) You can also click on the New Line logo on the main access menu to learn more about the companies that worked on the DVD and its content.

check.gif (406 bytes) DVD-ROM features include a sampling of the “Austin Powers: Operation Trivia” game, plus the film’s entire website. There are also screen savers, updates for the web page through the Internet, and three Austin Powers episodes that are designed to take over your desktop.

PROGNOSIS: Excellent

check.gif (406 bytes) The DVD really improves on an exceptionally funny movie.

VITALS:

check.gif (406 bytes) $24.98/Rated PG-13/95 Minutes/Color/30 Chapter Stops/Snapcase/#N4891

ATTENDING RESIDENT: John Larsen

PATIENT: AUSTIN POWERS-THE SPY WHO SHAGGED ME

PLATINUM SERIES

BIRTH DATE: 1999

HMO: New Line Home Video



Comments are closed.