Following the moderate success of Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, star Mike Myers and director Jay Roach return with Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. Much like the James Bond films that it gently satirises, this sequel plays against the law of diminishing returns, offering a funnier, bolder and groovier story about the super-spy and became a box office smash hit, earning almost ten times its budget of $33m.
Dr. Evil (Myers) returns from his exile in space to find that Number 2 (Robert Wagner) has made the company millions and as a gift gives him a one-eighth sized clone called Mini-Me (Verne Troyer). Intent on stopping his nemesis, international spy, Austin Powers (Myers), Dr. Evil travels back in time to the late 1960s in hopes of stealing the source of Powers’ confidence and sexual prowess, his mojo. Powers becomes aware of the plot and follows him, where along with the help of CIA agent Felicity Shagwell (Heather Graham) he tries to stop the evil mastermind.
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me is a far stronger outing for all concerned than its predecessor. In many ways, its a bigger budget remake than a direct sequel, although the opening scene that ties up the Miss Kensington (Elizabeth Hurley) story suggests that it is moving forward in a narrative sense. But there are a lot of jokes and scenes that are lifted from International Man of Mystery, but they’re funnier, becoming almost an homage to its own history.
The fact that Mike Myers is able to play three roles in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, is a testament to his comic ability. The fact that the latest character, Fat Bastard is such a disappointment just highlights how good the previous ones are. Overwhelming the audience with the basest level gross-out comedy, Bastard does not have anywhere near the depth of the sexually adventurous man-out-of-time Powers or the camp, existential evil genius.
Such is the level of intelligence, self-referential skill and above all else, laugh-out-loud comedy that Myers is able to bring to Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. And even though you recognise the patterns, there’s still enough new comedy gold to be mined. It’s better than the original and has enough quality to firmly establish Austin Powers in the pantheon of truly great comic characters.