So, what do you wanna know? Is Austin's third outing tasteless, childish, silly, patchy and lewd? Well, yes, yes, very, yes, and yes again. Ah, but is it funny? Oh yeah, baby...
There was a whiff of desperation about Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. Yes, it was funny - when you've got so many gags, most of them delivered by one of the funniest men alive, Mike Myers, it would be impossible not to be funny - but it was really no more than a sequence of skits taped together. Shape, plot and pacing were sacrificed at the altar of cheap laughs. Hordes hungry for more Austin jumped straight into bed with it, but no one really respected it in the morning.
This time, though, there's real drive and freshness to the franchise. Confident that audiences will stick with them, Myers and director Jay Roach have actually bothered to tell a story first and then graft the jokes on later. And it's paid off. Slick, sassy and seriously sidesplitting, Goldmember is easily the best film of the three.
Still out to - mwahhh-ha-ha-ha! - take over the world, Dr Evil (Myers) has hatched a plan that forces him to team up with Dutch supervillain Goldmember (Myers again), a shiny stiffy-obsessed baddie who lost his genitalia in a "mysterious smelting accident". Together they kidnap top spy/Austin's dad Nigel (a furiously hamming Michael Caine) and head off through time. In hot pursuit, Austin (Myers yet again) fetches up in 1975 where he joins forces with the ridiculously sexy Foxxy Cleopatra (Beyoncé Knowles - yes, her from Destiny's Child). Together they set out to - dum-dum-daaaa - save the world!
A belting Friday Night Out of a movie, Goldmember is rammed with film in-jokes, sight gags, Carry On... innuendo (Japanese twins called Fook Mi and Fook Yu, for instance) and some brilliantly executed cameos. Anyone who's read Total Film over the last few months knows they should keep an eye out for Tom Cruise, Britney Spears, Steven Spielberg and The Osbournes, but that's not even half the star count...
After a pre-title sequence that wouldn't shame 007 in the action stakes, the movie generates more laughs by the end of the opening credits than any of this year's other comedies have managed in their entire length. So what if the pace settles down slightly and even cruises for a bit? It's not long before trips back to Austin's schooldays and the appearance of Caine and Knowles (relaxed, beautiful and showing J-Lo what being a singer/movie star is really all about) kick it back up a gear. Several, in fact.
If Myers keeps churning out Austin movies of this standard, he might just take over the world. Or the worldwide box office at the very least.
The franchise ain't shagged out yet. Mike Myers is firing on all cylinders again, Michael Caine's hilarious and Beyoncé Knowles is off-the-chart sexy. Goldmember is frickin' fantastic.