Pan & Scan Welcome to PAN & SCAN where you will find film reviews of some of Hollywood's latest productions.

These reviews were originally written for and hosted @ AbsoluteWrite. A terrific website run by Jenna Glatzer which focuses on all types of writing.


Austin Powers II  Starring: Mike Myers

  Genre: Comedy

  Running Time: 95 Minutes

  Rating: Rated PG-13 for crude humor.

  Video Release: 14 November 1999

  Tagline: "I'm back, baby!"

Hollywood loves a sequel.

Especially when the sequel ($306M worldwide) blows away the original ($67M worldwide) in box office receipts leading us to believe that Mike Myers will back in Austin Powers III. But -- are we ready for a trilogy?

Austin Powers 2: The Spy Who Shagged Me opened last June to record numbers for a comedy, captivating its audience with 60’s fever. The film begins right where the original left off (with some new faces yet the same old antics) showcasing a potpourri of sorts from very subtle humor, to reflexive commentary, to outright bathroom banter -- but first the story.

Dr. Evil (Myers) has returned to rule the world, but first, he must stop his archenemy, Powers, from foiling his plans. Evil transports himself back to the sixties where one of his henchmen, Fat Bastard (yes, Myers again) steals Power’s "mojo" making his 90’s presence "mojo-less."

British Intelligence sends Powers back in time to the year 1969, where he hooks up with the kittenish CIA agent Felicity Shagwell (Heather Graham) who bounces around the movie like a wannabe Charlie’s Angels reject. Together, they must locate Dr. Evil's secret lair, evade the deadly schemes of his inept lackeys, save the world from a death ray, and of course, retrieve that missing "mojo." As far as Evil’s new line-up of obstacles that stand in Power’s way? There's Number Two Jr. (played spectacularly by Rob Lowe as the younger version of Robert Wagner), Dr. Evil's dwarflike clone Mini-Me (Verne J. Troyer), a vicious temptress Robin Swallows (Gia Carides) and *my favorite* Fat Bastard (who has my vote to eat the annoying Mini-Me).

Anyhow... Powers saves the world, gets the girl, yadda-yadda. (Like you couldn’t figure that out.)

What works about this film is also the reason why it doesn’t work. Copying from the original, its shotgun-style approach in getting in as many jokes as possible is its downfall. While there are many subplots interwoven into the story, it is these subplots which pan off like so many SNL skits which fall flat. The script unravels in a jumble, playing itself out like a string of isolated comic routines, without the benefit of a cohesive narrative line. When the momentum begins to move forward (as any plot driven script should) the film is dragged down by another musical interlude which gives the impression we’re watching a 95 minute MTV video.

Musical interludes aren’t the only distracting element as a multitude of jabs at pop culture, Hollywood films, '60s-era psychedelia, etc. are added at each and every turn. If you’re not a fan of the Star Wars films, you will definitely become bored. While some of these jokes may work, the majority do not ("zip it"). The reflexive jokes seem to work best -- such as when Powers makes the comment when driving on a supposedly English road (clearly not filmed on location): "You know what's remarkable? That England looks just like Southern California."

The only "straight" character in the film is portrayed by the return of Evil’s son Scott (Seth Green) whose mere presence reminds you that everything else is completely ludicrous. The mise-en-scene ranges from hip (the 60's era Corvette painted as an American flag) to the absurd (Evil’s pace ship shaped like the male organ). Quite possibly one of the best aspects of the film is a cleverly edited sequence using every euphemism for the male 'member' that includes cameo appearances by 'Woody' Harrelson and 'Willie' Nelson. Of course, while the first sequence was refreshing, the filmmakers use overkill and do the same gag later -- this time falling flat, like so many other jokes.

Not to focus on all negatives, the film’s cleverness comes in varying forms from the characters’ names (Ivana Humpalot and Robin Swallows, previously Spitz) to an intriguing crew of talent from Tim Robbins, Robert Wagner, Michael York, and Elizabeth Hurley. While Austin Powers 2: The Spy Who Shagged Me generates some laughs, it produces much more groans in a sequel that may have toppled the original but only spawns a regurgitated mess for the audience.

Rating time: "Fudgetaboutit bay-bee." The big número uno. Sorry Mike.

© Terrence J. Brady

The ratings for "Pan & Scan" are broken down into a simple 1-5 scale as follows: 5 = "Forget renting it - BUY IT!"; 4 = "Definite Must Rent"; 3 = "Coin Toss" (Rent it OR wait for cable); 2 = "Wait For Cable"; 1 = "Ignore It!" (Even when it's on network TV).