Saturday, July 27, 2002

Austin Powers in Goldmember (IMDB) (Netflix)
Mike Myers has outdone himself, which is a mixed blessing. In addition to reprising Austin Powers, Dr. Evil and Fat Bastard, he surpasses Peter Seller's Dr. Strangelove trifecta by playing Goldmember, one of Myers's weakest characters. A very fun opening sequence starts this second sequel with a bang, providing big-name cameos from half of the entertainment industry. After that, the rest of the story is just a setup for the onslaught of jokes, which are focused mostly on the middle ground -- of the human body, front and back -- and play directly to the squealing teenage girls and snickering teenage boys in the audience. However, the sheer tonnage of gags wears down your defenses, and you end up chuckling and chiding yourself at the same time.

The guiltiest of legal pleasures, but not nearly the best.
For a grown-up's antidote, rent Ronin, an extremely realistic and humanistic spy thriller starring Robert DeNiro and directed by the great and recently late John Frankenheimer. It combines Frankenheimer's passions for France and fast cars (he also did Grand Prix) in what turned out to be his last theatrical release. Not the most suspenseful story, but intelligent, well-written and well-acted, no special effects to speak of and an educational director's commentary track.