|Movies: Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged
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"I put the 'grrrr' in swinger baby. Yeah!"
"If you have a time machine, why don't you go back in time and kill him while he's sitting on the crapper?"
Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (New Line Cinema)
Review by Bob Devney
FOR SFREVU JULY 1999 / ADAPTED FROM THE DEVNIAD, BOOK 51, JUNE 1999 / WD 6/30/99
Cast: Mike Myers (Austin Powers/Dr. Evil etc.), Heather Graham (Felicity Shagwell), Elizabeth Hurley (Vanessa Kensington), Rob Lowe (Young Number Two), Michael York (Basil Exposition), Robert Wagner (Number Two 1999), Seth Green (Scott Evil), Gia Carides (Robin Swallows), Verne Troyer (Mini-Me), Kristen Johnston (Ivana Humpalot)
Director: Jay Roach Writers: Mike Myers, Michael McCullers
Here's one flick that really takes us back to The Golden Age of Science Fiction. For as we know, the Golden Age of Science Fiction was... twelve.
And twelve's about the right time of life to get the biggest buzz from this cheerfully juvenile low parody. Coincidentally, that's just about my mental age. If you check your sense of adult moral outrage at the door (better make sure your sense of taste joins it), you too may laugh surprisingly hard and often as this shameless thing slaughters sacred SF ideas -- suspended animation, time travel, cloning, spacesuits, giant lasers, Moon bases -- on the tawdry altar of bathroom jokes and penis gags.
The series began as a spy spoof with 1997's surprise hit-once-it-hit-video Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. Mike Myers plays a randy little British agent from the shagedelic 60s who awakens from suspended animation in the more Politically Correct 90s. But this entry obviously has come over to the Dark Fantastic Side. A partial list of SF movies desecrated here would include Planet of the Apes, Sleeper, three out of four Star Wars flicks, Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, Buckaroo Banzai, Back to the Future, Stargate, Timecop, Apollo 13, Independence Day, and The Island of Dr. Moreau. So far, Blade Runner, The Lathe of Heaven, and Georges Melies' 1902 hit Le Voyage dans la lune are safe. At least until the next AP sequel.
The plot this time has big bald baddy Dr. Evil (Myers) building a 60s-Pop-Art-hypno-spin-circle time machine and (eventually) going back in time to steal Austin (Myers again)'s mojo. "Mojo" is presented as the secret ingredient of his awesome sexual attractiveness to babes of the caliber of Felicity Shagwell (Graham), Robin Swallows (Carides), and Ivana Humpalot (Johnston). This is complete nonsense, as many SF fans can tell you: the secret of Austin's sexual attractiveness is obviously his big thick glasses.
But never mind the story -- who gives a toss, baby, really? What's important is that The Spy Who Shagged Me boasts better jokes and fewer duds than its predecessor.
Take the villain Dr. Evil's new midget clone, Mini-Me (Verne Troyer). He's not awfully politically correct. But the filmmakers shrewdly give him lots of screen time. There's something beautiful, for instance, about Mini-Me's Lunar judo moves against the spacesuited Powers. Of course, you know his little limbs can't possibly produce the big effects his throws demonstrate. Although it's on the Moon, so would he exert six times the leverage?
No. But it's funny anyway.
"Beautiful" may not quite be the word for the huge new Scottish villain, the scatalogical Fat Bastard, but unforgettable (unfortunately) certainly is.
But don't despair, fans of sophisticated wit. There's even some cleanly funny wordplay here. For instance, Dr. Evil's world domination schemes have names like The Alan Parsons Project, and his Lunar bases are named Moon Unit Alpha and, inevitably, Moon Unit Zappa.
This is low parody, but it's fully and skillfully packed for maximum payoff, with
Hey, if this stuff were easy, don't you think every Saturday Night Live alum would be doing it?
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|Starquest II / The Arrival II / Johnny 2.0
Et Tu Tutu and Toto Too
To be honest, this column is being written specifically for those of you who are either too tired from watching SWTPM too many times, or too tired of hearing about the same to think theres anything else worth watching. Forget the Hutts, forget that annoying jujube, forget Anakin whats-his-name, forget the silly Jedi who follow their own code about as often as the Federation follows the Prime Directive. Time to toot the collective horns of dilemma. What to watch for the rest of the month? How about a good old double feature? Though we struggle this time to get enough information to make this seem legitimate, it still reflects what you get when you walk into the video store and snatch on a whim. Grab a sweetie and hunker down. Better bring the dog, too, in case this gets out of hand and the sweetie leaves. And now, Tutu, to business.
|Starquest II, New Horizons
Rated R, 79 minutes.
Cast: Robert (boy am I desperate) Englund as (you know, it just makes no difference who played who in this flick), Adam (the forgotten one) Baldwin, Duane (devil made me) Davis, Kate (nude again?) Rodger, Gretchen (nude a lot) Palmer.
Director/Screenwriter: Fred Gallo
Music by: Ed Tomney Caterer: Subway.
Yet another film in the Roger Corman must use all scenes from Battle Beyond the Stars epic title crunch. This film goes by any number of names, including Galactic Odyssey and Mind Breakers. This film is also a great example of the sex/quality ratio as it relates to Science Fiction films. The ratio goes like this: the more nudity, the less credible the science and plot. Theres lots of nudity in this film.
The basic idea is that a group of humans, three pairs and one single guy who dies before we even really see him, get snatched by aliens. Besides this group of six, there are three others who pretend to also have been brought on board. This group includes Englund's character, a priest. No one is all that suspicious at first, choosing to have sex instead of trying to figure out whats going on. Its not until a few deaths occur that the rest start to take action. Of course they take action against each other, unless you count the poor android that gets pummeled just for doing his job. Then theres more sex. Then they discuss things. Then theres more sex. Then theres more misdirected action. Then theres lesbian sex. Then theres some killing. And more sex. Well, its not really sex, just artificial sex which flashes lots of breasts, both male and female. Oh yeah, and the whole story takes place on a starship. This is what makes the film Science Fiction. I think.
Avoid this one like the plague, regardless of what name it tries to entice you with. Cmon Roger, spend a few pennies and shoot some new material.
|The Arrival II,
Rated R, 101 minutes.
Cast: Patrick (who?) Muldoon, Michael (um, may sound familiar in an odd, Canadian kind of way) Sarrazin, Jane (can place the face but thats it) Sibbett
Director: Kevin S. Tenney.
This is a Canadian film that went directly to video. It follows on the heels of its critically trashed parent, The Arrival, which starred Charlie Sheen doing a real bad impression of Charlie Sheen. I liked it anyway. It had aliens, it had a decent plot, it had some decent rhythm, and it had some good special effects. Sure there were a couple of plot holes you could land a saucer in, but occasionally you just have to learn to say I dont care, just so long as its entertaining.
Well, The Arrival II is at least as entertaining as The Arrival was, although theres no one here to do a Charlie Sheen impression. The aliens are still trying to greenhouse-gas the planet in order to raise the temperature to a more comfortable level for them. This would wipe us out, unfortunately, and this is where the conflict comes in. It seems the aliens are raising global temperatures by buying fossil fuel plants and the odd nuclear generator. They must not be very advanced or they would have better means.
So, while they have the technology to disguise their thoroughly alien physiology to such an extent that they can have sex with humans (actually only the female aliens seem to have sex with humans), they cant seem to get much else right.
Minor nudity but just enough to keep the plot and science from being respectable.
| Johnny 2.0,
110 minutes, made for TV.
Cast: Jeff (double time) Fahey as Johnny Dalton, Tawnee (nude for Cocoon but not here) Welch as Nickie Holland, Michael (bad guy again?) Ironside as Frank Donahue, John (benevolent figurehead) Neville as Bosch
Director: Neil Fearnley
Screenwriter: Wynne McLaughlin
Oy. This was a made-for-TV effort which I actually saw in its original form a while back. Its interesting, at least in premise, if not in actuality. Seems theres this clone who will self-destruct unless he can find his creator. The creator is the original, of course, thus setting up the whole Frankenstein thing again. The gimmick here is that once found, the creator dies, thus letting the clone take his place in an odd kind of Oedipal twist. The clone replaces dad, gets the babe (no nudity so I cant explain what happened to the plotting here), and saves the world. There should be more clones like this one.
The acting is not bad, especially if you consider the original venue. The film quality is pure video (Television is shot on video; film is shot on, well, film. You can tell the difference quite easily, actually, from the quality.) The story is the weak link here and while it would have made an interesting Outer Limits episode (and probably has), it was a bit thin for two hours.
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