James Bond is back – NOT! – as one vaguely remembered star of stage and screen might have said.
Instead of Bond, it’s super-groovy spy Austin Powers (Mike Myers) making his triumphant return to the silver screen, the British secret agent frozen in the 60’s and thawed in the 90’s, where/when he returned to active duty. The Spy Who Shagged Me picks up right where the original left off, with Dr. Evil (also Myers) banished to space in his Big Boy statue/spaceship, and Austin settling down with new wife Vanessa (Elizabeth Hurley, in a cameo re-appearance).
Alas, Dr. Evil will not stay in exile for long. He soon returns to earth, where he hatches a plan to travel back to 1969 and “steal Austin’s mojo” – mojo that looks a bit like raspberry jam.
It’s up to Austin to travel back in time himself to get his mojo back, of course, and it’s back in ’69 that he meets up with American CIA agent Felicity Shagwell (Heather Graham), goes on a wild car chase or two, faces off with a new villain named Fat Bastard (also Myers), goes toe to toe with a midget clone of Dr. Evil (Troyer), and ends up on the moon to spoil the plan to build a, ahem, “Death Star” set to wipe out Washington, D.C.
Naturally, none of this is taken seriously, and AP2 takes the farce to new heights (and lows). Is The Spy Who Shagged Me as good as the original? Actually, it’s better by quite a bit. While the original was fun, it was too much about the one character of Austin and how out of place he was. The follow-up is much better-handled, with plenty of fun characters (I loved Green as Dr. Evil’s son, again) and some really shagadelic situations. See, it’s catching.
Problems? In a shocker, it turns out that Heather Graham just can’t do comedy. And while I won’t deny that Heather is extremely hot, she ends up weighing down the movie considerably with her seriousness and deadpan line delivery. Yawn. Also, the Fat Bastard character is quite an exercise in makeup technology, but haven’t we gotten past the point of mocking grossly overweight people? And the Scottish thing? Come on, Mike. That one’s older than Sprockets.
While AP2 feels a bit like it was written in one night while under the influence of controlled substances, I can’t deny that it’s really, really funny. The first 20 minutes represent the most I’ve laughed at a film this year. And I saw Wing Commander, don’t forget.
Stay to the end. There are a couple of credits-running scenes you really have to see. Also notable are the two Jerry Springer recreations (with Springer himself). I’ll leave you with a fun fact: Did you know that Demi Moore was a producer on this film? Did you know that Demi Moore was a producer at all?
Talk amongst yourselves.
The DVD for this film is spectacular, with about 20 minutes of hilarious deleted footage, commentary by Myers, trailers, music videos, and more!
Review by Christopher Null © 1999 filmcritic.com