In the third installment of the wildly popular Austin Powers franchise, comedian Mike Myers assumes yet another persona: the titular villain Goldmember, a Dutchman whose disturbing fetish for the precious metal caused him to lose his genitalia in "an unfortunate smelting accident." Myers also reprises his multiple roles of British secret agent Austin Powers, the nefarious Dr. Evil, and the morbidly obese Fat Bastard. New to the show are Beyonce Knowles as the token babe and Michael Caine as Austin's estranged father.
In Goldmember, Dr. Evil is once again holding the world hostage and demanding an unrealistic sum of money. To further these ends, he travels back in time to 1975 and enlists the services of Goldmember, who has the know-how needed to build a functioning tractor beam. Dr. Evil plans to use the device to pull a giant, solid-gold asteroid into a collision course with the earth unless the world comes up with his ransom. Naturally, Austin Powers must stop him, and so gets some blast-from-the-past assistance of his own: wild, butt-kickin' sista Foxxy Cleopatra (Beyonce Knowles as a surprisingly funny prototype of every blaxploitation heroine).
Mike Myers continues to demonstrate his flair for hilarious, memorable characters, effortlessly playing four distinct roles without ever making his own presence obvious. Dr. Evil continues to steal the show as a prissy genius preoccupied with gangsta rap and "fricken sharks with fricken lasers on their fricken heads." The character of Goldmember is a mixed bag: he's freakish and disgusting to be sure, but lacks the charming villainy that makes Dr. Evil so fun to watch. He's also a major wimp.
Two members of the supporting cast are particularly entertaining. Verne Troyer returns for more midget abuse as the downtrodden Mini Me, including a fight scene in which Austin puts him in a sack and beats the hell out of him. And Michael Caine has been perfectly cast as Nigel Powers, Austin's square-but-swinging secret agent dad. His most memorable line: "There are only two things I can't stand in this world: people who are intolerant of other peoples' cultures...and the Dutch!" His explanation of how secret agents take out henchmen is also amusing--a brief but clever observation of spy movie standards.
Goldmember is loaded with enough genitalia jokes and crude humor to choke a horse. Fat Bastard, for example, dedicates a whole speech to describing his gaseous emanations in the most colorful ways possible. There are also several entertaining cameos from major stars. (Hey, who doesn't get a kick out of Britney Spears getting slapped around a little?) But the movie's biggest comedic achievement may be the way it embraces racial stereotypes and turns them into something we can all laugh at. With its jokes about the English, Dutch, Scottish, Japanese, and Belgians (who, according to the movie, are simply evil), Goldmember has no shortage of lighthearted racial humor.
While there are some hilarious moments, there are also a lot of gags that are either tired and played out, or just plain stupid. Fred Savage as the Mole (an undercover agent who happens to have a grotesquely huge mole on his face) gets old quickly, and the Japanese guys who debate international copyright laws while running from a giant lizard are clownshoes. Some jokes have been clumsily duped from Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, while still others are painfully predictable if you know the references--who didn't know Austin was going to say "thank you" to a character named Mr. Roboto?
The movie also fumbles when it tries to show heart. The underlying theme of fatherhood gets far too sappy for a film that should have as much sentiment as the Scary Movie spoofs. Scott Evil complaining that Dr. Evil isn't a loving father is bad enough, but Austin whining that his own dad was never there for him is downright nauseating. While this sort of token sentimental crap is to be expected in an Adam Sandler film, it's disappointing to have it in a franchise originally meant to lampoon bad cliches. Equally disheartening is that, for all his talk about swinging, Austin is still a rather monogamous gentleman to his leading ladies. If this is supposed to be a parody of James Bond films, shouldn't Austin be pulling off the old "pump and dump" at every turn?
Overall, Goldmember is a strong showcase of Mike Myers' comedic flexibility that has a few truly hilarious moments. But the story is unfocused and awkward, and too much of the comedy is either stale or outright unfunny. This franchise that began as a first class mockery of espionage cliches is itself quickly becoming an amalgam of canned stories and recycled material.
Rating: 6 out of 10 (0=Abysmal, 5=Average, 10=Excellent)