Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
Director: Jay Roach
Screenplay: Mike Myers & Michael McCullers
Cast: Mike Myers, Heather Graham, Michael York
NY Distribution Status: now playing (New Line)

Grade: C-

Regular readers of this site know that my love for Austin Powers' bald, Blofeldian nemesis borders on the obsessive, and it's the handful of classic Dr. Evil bits -- his impromptu rap to Will Smith's remake of Grover Washington Jr.'s "Just the Two of Us," with Mini-Me grooving ecstatically atop a piano in the background; his uncomfortable, so-how-are-things? morning-after conversation with henchwoman Frau Farbissina at the coffee machine ("it's gotten weird, hasn't it?") -- that prevent this sloppy, shamelessly derivative sequel from getting a grade that resembles a toilet plunger with a broken handle resting on its side. For some reason, American film comedy is going through a toilet/gutter phase at present, and it's no surprise that the perpetually eager-to-please Myers has hopped aboard the bandwagon; as I'd feared, the dopey scatological humor that occasionally marred the first A. Powers picture completely overwhelms this one, anachronistic wit abandoned in favor of Farrelly/Shadyac-style gross-outs: Austin unwittingly gulping down Fat Bastard's stool sample, etc. More damagingly, Shagged is less a sequel to IMoM than a pale, laborious imitation of it; either bereft of imagination or desperate to maintain the series' fan base (or both), Myers trots out virtually every gag that worked in the previous film, employing only the most negligible of variations, and the cumulative effect is numbingly monotonous -- it's like watching a bizarre Van Sant-esque experiment in which the Austin Powers team decided to shoot the original movie again, this time working from an early, patently inferior draft of the script. (Speaking of "inferior," Heather Graham manages something that I would have thought utterly impossible, and that I still find flabbergasting in retrospect: she makes Elizabeth Hurley look uproariously funny by comparison.) Half the time, I was wondering how mad my girlfriend would be if I abruptly got up and walked back to the apartment; then Dr. Evil would call the President of the United States "girlfriend," and instruct him to talk to the hand, and I'd suddenly, perversely find myself looking forward to installment three.