Monday, March 04, 2013

Films of Michael Caine: Austin Powers in Goldmember

Cast: Mike Myers (Austin Powers, Dr Evil, Fat Bastard, Goldmember), Beyoncé Knowles (Foxxy Cleopatra), Seth Green (Scott Evil), Michael York (Basil Exposition), Robert Wagner (Number Two), Mindy Sterling (Frau Farbissina), Verne Troyer (Mini-Me), Michael Caine (Nigel Powers), Fred Savage (Number Three), Diane Mizota (Fook Mi), Carrie Ann Inaba (Fook Yu), Nobu Matsuhisa (Mr Roboto).
Crew: Jay Roach (director), John S Lyons, Mike Myers, Eric McLeod, Demi Moore, Jennifer Todd and Suzanne Todd (producers), Mike Myers and Michael McCullers (writers), George S Clinton (music), Peter Deming (cinematography), Jon Poll and Greg Hayden (editors), Rusty Smith (production designer).

Synopsis: Britain secret agent Austin Powers captures his arch-enemy, Dr Evil, who is sentenced to 400 years in prison. Austin gets knighted but his father, super-spy Nigel Powers, misses the ceremony. Soon afterwards Nigel is kidnapped by a Dutch madman called Goldmember and taken to the year 1975. Austin time-travels to 1975 where he teams up with US agent Foxxy Cleopatra. But Goldmember flees to 2002, taking Nigel with him. Dr Evil escapes prison and shifts operations to a submarine off the coast of Japan. Goldmember and Dr Evil join forces, hatching a plan to flood the world unless an enormous ransom is paid. Austin and Foxxy rescue Nigel but Goldmember and Dr Evil escape. Austin and Foxxy infiltrate Dr Evil’s sub. Just as Austin is about to shoot his nemesis, Nigel walks in and reveals that Dr Evil and Austin are brothers. Dr Evil joins the good guys and helps them thwart Goldmember. Dr Evil’s own son Scott runs off, vowing revenge.


Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery was a minor hit in 1997, before developing a cult following on video. Two years later a sequel, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, was a box office smash, grossing more than $200 million in the US. Another sequel was inevitable and work began on the script in March 2001.

Mike Myers wrote a long letter to Caine, asking him to play England’s most famous spy, Nigel Powers. The creation of Austin Powers had been much inspired by Caine films from the 1960s. ‘The very first time I saw Austin Powers,’ Caine told interviewers, ‘I realised Mike had based it on a character I played many years ago. The 1960s, the glasses, and the accent – I knew it was me. Not only was I ideal to play it, I felt I was the only person who could play it.’ The actor accepted the role, having taken several months off after filming his exhausting role in The Quiet American (2002).
Production began in November 2001 and was shot predominantly on studio lots. Advance promotional material announced the film’s title, but this was withdrawn in January 2002 following court action by the owners of another spy character, James Bond. It was alleged that Goldmember was trading on the Bond franchise without permission. The film was temporarily renamed Austin Powers III but the original title was eventually reinstated.

The main cast were encouraged to ad lib during filming, creating considerably more material than required. Director Jay Roach’s first cut lasted three hours – double the length of the final picture. A brief excerpt of Caine from the film Hurry Sundown (1967) appears in the film during a flashback. On the Austin Powers in Goldmember DVD commentary track Roach says the hardest cut was removing a sequence where the main characters sing along with a version of the theme song to Caine’s 1966 film Alfie. ‘We were all sure it was going to be one of the highpoints … the audience just felt it slowed the movie down. We tried it in two previews and the movie took a big dip in momentum. It was brutal to cut something like that.’ The sequence is among more than 20 minutes of deleted scenes and outtakes on the DVD release.

Austin Powers in Goldmember was simultaneously released in the US (rated PG-13) and the UK (PG) on July 26, 2002 – four days after its premiere. The film proved even more successful than its predecessor, grossing $213 million in the US and another $36 million in Britain. Dripping with cameos by famous faces, it featured at least half a dozen Oscar winners amongst the cast. Among those making fleeting appearances was musician Quincy Jones, who provided the music for The Italian Job (1969). The picture was released on VHS and DVD at the end of 2002.

Reviews: ‘It’s strictly more of the same from the groovidelic shagmeister … usually fun even if it’s not terribly funny. Caine as Dad was an inspired casting idea...’ - Variety
‘Extravagant, uneven, retro-happy celebration of the movies as international setters of indelible style… The movie is remarkably spry and inspired...’ – Entertainment Weekly

Verdict: This is a broad comedy stuffed full of slapstick, in-jokes and hilarious homages. The opening superstar cameo sequence is the highpoint of the film, but Austin Powers in Goldmember doesn’t outstay its welcome. Director Roach keeps the pace moving while the script by Myers and McCullers is laden with juvenile japes. But this movie is not just fart jokes and scatological humour. It also features a density of media cross-references matched only in better episodes of TV sitcom The Simpsons. Caine steals his scenes as the oldest swinger in town, performing a parody of a parody of himself. In the midst of all this, the film examines father and son relationships with surprising, heartfelt care. If you enjoyed the two previous movies in the franchise, you should love this dumb fun.

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