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October 1999

Austin Powers-The Spy Who Shagged Me

Mike Meyers and Elizabeth Hurley star in Austin Powers: the Spy Who Shagged Me

Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me*** The man with the golden pun International Man of Mystery Austin Powers (Mike Myers) returns to the screen in the hilarious spy spoof Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. Having thwarted Dr. Evil’s (Mike Myers) plans to take over the world, Powers enjoys his honeymoon with fellow secret agent Vanessa Kensington (Elizabeth Hurley). The romance is short-lived when his bride is dispatched in a contrived turn of events, leaving Powers a swinging single. Meanwhile, Dr. Evil has returned to conquer the world. The arch-nemesis uses a time machine to travel back to the ’60s to steal our secret agent’s mojo (his libido, or the thing that makes him “groovy, baby”). With Austin’s powers of seduction and heroics rendered impotent, Dr. Evil seems unstoppable as he aims a laser at Washington, D.C.. British Intelligence bureaucrat Basil Exposition (Michael York) sends Austin back in time to the year 1969, where he hooks up with the curvaceous CIA agent Felicity Shagwell (Heather Graham). Their mission is to locate Dr. Evil’s secret lair, save the world and retrieve the missing mojo. Two new characters have been added to the ensemble — the repulsive Scotsman “Fat Bastard,” tripling Myer’s role in the film, and “Mini-me,” Dr Evil’s dwarfed, malevolent clone. The irreverent The Spy Who Shagged Me is an on-screen frat party. Like the debut film, the sequel is a parade of parody, and “bathroom” humor. One-liners, sight gags and double entendres abound. If you liked the original film, you will enjoy the antics of the latest production, with its de-personalization of women, erection-obsession, and deconstruction of the spy film genre. You’ve entered the testosterzone. A Midsummer Night’s Dream** A fairy tale Quarreling fairies and mistaken identities shape Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Young Hermia (Anna Friel) has been promised to Demetrius (Christian Bale), but she’s in love with Lysander (Dominic West). When Hermia must choose between Demetrius, the nunnery or death, she and Lysander flee into the woods. Demetrius, who is worshipped by Helena (Calista Flockhart), follows Hermia with love-struck Helena hot on his heels. The four find themselves near the secret home of the fairies, as does Bottom (Kevin Kline), a hammish actor. When the King of the Fairies, Oberon (Rupert Everett), argues with his queen, Titania (Michelle Pfeiffer), chaos breaks out. Oberon enlists Puck (Stanley Tucci), to drop a love potion into her eyes as she sleeps. The tonic is intended to make her fall in love with the first person she sees upon waking. Oberon tells Puck to treat Demetrius’ eyes, too, but the plan goes awry, resulting in rather unexpected romantic romping. Indeed, Shakespeare is back. But director Michael Hoffman (One Fine Day) has turned a classic play into an unintelligible, lackluster film. The foam rubber fairy kingdom looks like it was built by a bankrupt high school drama club. The stellar cast suffers from lethargic direction. Pfeiffer and Kline are underwhelming. While Flockhart is palatable as the high-strung Helena, the film is nonetheless a flop. Luckily, the puck stops here. Runaway Bride*** Faux-pair In Runaway Bride, Richard Gere plays Ike Graham, a columnist in trouble. He’s got writer’s block, a deadline and his boss is also his ex-wife (Rita Wilson). Retreating to a bar to brainstorm, Ike hears about Maggie Carpenter (Julia Roberts), a woman in rural Maryland who loves being engaged, but suffers from a chronic case of cold feet. Ike writes about Maggie without checking out his sources, whereupon he is promptly fired. Ike sets out to interview Maggie, to set the record straight and to reclaim his job. He discovers there is much more to her than just a fear of commitment and he ends up with the story of a lifetime. If you got warm fuzzies from Pretty Woman (1990), you won’t be disappointed with Runaway Bride. Both are directed by Garry Marshall, with a lead cast, characters and some scenes nearly interchangeable. The main difference is that now Roberts, not Gere, has top billing. This time, however, the comedy is more screwball than romantic — the content is more fluffy than filling. But Marshall sets a good table: a pleasant Norman Rockwellian environment, a rich musical score and a strong cast, including Joan Cusack, Paul Dooley and Marshall’s good luck charm Hector Elizondo (who has played minor roles in all 11 of Marshall’s films). Poor Hector. Always a bridesmaid, never a bride. <<<

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