It's reassuring to see that some film series' follow the same arc as others. The Austin Powers series is following the Star Trek film arc. For those of you unfamiliar, I'll explain. Star Trek: The Motion Picture was an ok film, but it wasn't Star Trek as it was meant to be, and nothing quite clicked the way it had/should have. But it garnered enough of a following and did enough business to convince the PTB (Powers That Be) to let them make Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, which was fabulous. Then came Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. It was ok, but the story just wasn't up to the standard set by the Wrath of Khan, and the audience, while happy to have another ST film, went away rather disappointed.
This is the situation with the third installment of the Austin Powers series, Austin Powers in Goldmember. It's funny, but not as funny as the Spy Who Shagged Me. Goldmember shows a definite increase in toilet and bodily-function humor at the expense of further real character development and legitimate storyline. Is it worth seeing? Yes, if only for the first 10 minutes of the movie, and then the scattered glimpses of Myers brilliance that pepper the film.
Goldmember is basically a story about fathers and sons. This seems to be Myers homage to/therapy about his own relationship with his father, and although handled in a rather hamfisted way, that part of the storyline comes through loud and clear. The rest of the plot, which continues to play on Dr. Evil's ignorance, is almost secondary to the various sub-plots which emerge throughout. Incidentally, the scene of Dr. Evil's ignorance is one of the funniest inner moments of the movie, something that made me laugh out loud, thanks to some of Scott Evil's comments.
Mike Myers reprises his role as Austin, Dr. Evil (my favorite) and Fat Bastard, and introduces his newest creation, Goldmember. Austin is still funny, Dr. Evil is great, and Fat Bastard is... well... Fat Bastard. Goldmember, however, is not funny. Not at all. Considering he's Dutch, maybe this was done on purpose, I don't know (Hey, I'm part Dutch, I can make fun of them if I want to), but all the jokes Myers delivers in that character fall completely flat. Just think of him as the fake vomit that conceals the microfilm: An un-amusing but necessary plot device.
Kudos go to Beyoncé Knowles (Foxy Cleopatra), who does extraordinarily well in her film-acting debut. She plays Foxy so well as to lend some credulity to what is basically an archetypal homage to Pam Grier's Foxy Brown characters from the Blaxploitation films of the early 70's. Likewise, Robert Wagner (Number Two), Mindy Sterling (Frau Farbissina) and Michael York (Basil Exposition) are dead-on, if a bit slighted for screen-time. The scene-stealers in this film, beyond the Myers characters, are Seth Green (Scott Evil), Michael Caine (Nigel Powers) and Verne Troyer (Mini-Me). When any of them are on the screen, you forget all about the other shortcomings of the film and just sit back, watch, and enjoy. Scott Evil and Mini-Me also have the most legitimate character development in the film, hearkening back to some of the back-story elements in the second film.
The true gift to movie-goers in the film, however, are the cameos. Mostly at the beginning and the end of the film, with a couple thrown in here and there throughout, the cameos showed that Myers is aware of the state of the Austin Powers franchise, and is comfortable enough with it to make satirical jabs at it from within it. This is obvious from how well the opening and closing scenes work, and how much appreciate laughter there was from the audience, myself included.
Overall, I give this film a solid B, mostly for effort. It's a bit above average, about as good as the first one, but not quite up to the level of the second. If this series continues to follow the Star Trek movie arc, I can't wait to see how well the fourth movie does.