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Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me Review

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Look, if you want plot go see The Usual Suspects.

★★★★

Sensible enough to invest in the strongest aspects of the original (i.e. Dr. Evil is far funnier than Powers so we get way more of the camp Blofeld and curling pinky), this as-good-as sequel plays satisfyingly to the Identikit grooves of a terrifically funny original. The elaborate and potty storyline takes Evil back in time to 1969 to steal Powers' mojo (his sex drive) and the snaggle-toothed swinger zings back to retrieve his all important potency.

From there on in, it's a re-run of the same routines played out with more money and greater confidence. Dr. Evil threatens to destroy the world with his giant moon-based "laser" known as The Alan Parsons Project. Powers drapes himself over the deliciously sexy but less-than-funny Graham (as Felicity Shagwell). Elizabeth Hurley, Robert Wagner, Rob Lowe and Tim Robbins all crop up for hammy cameos. And it flies by. It could have been bettered. Myers' unflagging career shtick of glancing complicitly to camera as a fail-safe for weak jokes is just wearing. The intercut dance numbers carry none of the fizz they did in the first. And the third Myers-played character, a hefty Scottish dribbler known as Fat Bastard concealing the actor in swathes of sweaty prothestic, is a failure. But, as soon as you worry it won't hold together like the first and minutes pass by without a gag, it pulls something joyous out of the comedy bag and wins you over.

Mostly it is in the most obvious, crudest gags. Powers supping from a steaming cup of boiling crap, leaving a squirm-inducing rim of shit on his upper lip. Mini Me (Verne Jay Troyer), Evil's one-eighth sized clone, is an inspired non-stop dwarf gag, triumphing in the most ludicrous fight scene (with Powers) in movie history. A penis-euphemism riff involving an endless array of folks spotting Evil's dubious shaped space rocket is so inspired it even works twice. And there is still that artful application of the '60s spy-ethos satire to '90s affectation - cue Dr. Evil going psycho on Jerry Springer; and the magnificent return of Scott Evil (Seth Green), Evil's dysfunctional love-child.

There is something effortlessly inviting about the Powers' franchise, as well as his vast comic talent (and much of this stuff was improvised on set), Myers possesses an innate warmth that draws in the audience. It's his deprecating grin, as he delivers another of Powers' wild pick-ups, or Dr. Evil's all too evident human weariness ("Throw me a frickin' bone here, people").

As the players prep up the inevitable third, the need to give this routine another spin is pretty apparent, but this is still going to be the funniest film you'll see this summer.

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