The circus has left town. The tents have been folded, the gaudy posters torn down, the shrill trumpets silenced. But what’s that left behind in the trampled mud, small and pale and inconsequential? Why, it’s Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. And, Lord, does it look pathetic in the unforgiving light of day.
Well, perhaps that’s to be expected of this genre – even of a parody of this genre. In the first ”Austin Powers,” writer-star Mike Myers was fondly sending up cheesy ’60s James Bond knockoffs: Dean Martin’s Matt Helm movies and James Coburn’s ”Our Man Flint” series, which themselves went south after semi-decent first outings.
The difference here is that ”Austin Powers” made its star a top-rank comedy powerhouse on the level of a Jim Carrey. (Want further proof? He immediately did a serious-actah turn in ”54.”) ”The Spy Who Shagged Me,” then, shows Myers returning to the scene of his triumph, secure in the knowledge that every improvised tush wiggle and random pop reference will be received as classic, bust-a-gut film farce.
Director Jay Roach’s job was apparently to roll the cameras, let Myers goof around on the set, and then assemble the mess into some kind of continuity. In Roach’s defense, Orson Welles probably couldn’t have done a better job with this footage.
The most depressing thing about ”The Spy Who Shagged Me”? That would be Mike Myers himself. What always set this guy apart from other ”Saturday Night Live” graduates was that twinkle of playful sweetness in his eyes. He was the comedian as beguiling, easygoing underdog; part of him, one sensed, was still in that ”Wayne’s World” basement, putting on a show while grown-up life went on, unheeding, upstairs.
In ”The Spy Who Shagged Me,” we get Mike Myers as Top Dog, grinning with fatuous complacency at the ease with which the world has rolled over. But to watch this movie on video, without the roar of the crowd and the yammering of the Austin Powers Talking Watches and the rattle of the Shagadelic Cocktail Shakers (and, to be sure, the huzzahs of magazines like this one), is to see a clown who hasn’t yet been told that the circus has moved on. D