The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, June 17, 1999, Summer Edition, Page 4, Image 4

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    Direct comedy hits make up for
misses in ‘Spy Who Shagged Me’
By Samuel McKewon
Film Critic
The “Austin Powers” series has never been
a entire movie as much as a filmed concept.
Twists and turns in the plot are meaningless.
The second installment in what may be at
least a three-movie deal proves it. “Austin
Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me” loses all
pretension of making sense, choosing the path
of absolute silliness and abundant bathroom
humor.
’ Not that mass audiences care, nor did I. The
sequel to first “Austin” does exactly what it
was supposed to do: raise the bar on crass,
ridiculous comedy, at the expense of a few crit
ics, but hardly at the expense of the fans.
In short, Mike Meyers and Co. is still high
on the funny meter; there’s enough great
moments in “The Spy Who Shagged Me” to
drown away the bad ones. The second movie
misses more often but hits better. While it isn’t
as consistent in its humor, the laughs come
harder.
ihe basic premise picks up alter tne nrst
“Austin” with the dashing 1960s rogue spy
Powers (Meyers) celebrating a honeymoon
with his wife, Vanessa (Elizabeth Hurley), J
who turns out to be a fembot. m
The affectionately effeminate Dr. Evil 1|
(Meyers again) is returning back to Earth
after a short orbit. His plan to destroy |8
Austin: to go back to 1969 (through a ^8
swirly time machine) and steal his “mojo,” i
a Kool-Aid type substance that turns any
man into a shag machine and robs Austin of
his manhood.
In fact, much of the movie is spent with Dr.
Evil, much more than Powers, largely
because of the brilliant new characters
in the form of Mini-Me (Verne D.
Troyer), a dwarfish clone of the arch
villain and Fat Bastard (Meyers, Part
III), the gross Scottish spy who actu
ally does the mojo-stealing.
Austin, surrounded by the
same brittle British actors,
doesn’t get the same help
from the script, co-written
by Michael McCullors
and Meyers. Austin is
shipped back to the past,
where he’s hip again,
eliminating much of the
broad fish-out-of-water
humor that made the first
film so successful.
Instead of a game Hurley
tagging along, Heather Graham steps in at
the American spy who shags, Felicity
Shagwell. And not one good line is she
given. A vixen without vix, Graham doesn’t
have natural humor in her bones and can’t
Tin Facts
Title:'Austin Powers: The Spy Who -
Shagged Me'
Stars: Mike Meyers, Heather
Graham, Verne D. Troyer
Director: Jay Roach
Rating: PG-13 (adult language)
Grade: B
Five Words: Austin is supremely
funny again - ^
pull off British weariness with a Midwestern
accent. She is more of an obligatory female
than cohort; in fact, before she disappears from
the screen, Hurley fires off a few barbs better
than any Graham gets.
Austin, meanwhile, seems subdued, and
much of the schlocky humor is thrown back at
Dr. Evil, fleshed out here better than the origi
nal movie. A musical duet with Mini-Me, a riff
on the phrase “Zip it!”, a double play on words
about his phallic ship: these are the best
scenes in the “Spy Who Shagged Me.”
The script is filled with gags, but a
plot seems far off in left field. The door
is left gaping open for
sequel; let’s hope a
better plan
devised than one
revolving
around an eight
inch beaker of
red fluid.
Through r
revelation later m the movie, it all seems a bit
stupid.
But hindsight isn’t needed in “The Spy
Who Shagged Me.” Don’t think, just laugh.
And for that, Meyers and director Jay Roach
delivers in spades; we don’t care that the movie
is one-sided in its laughs, nor does it matter
that Graham’s character falls a bit
In the end, it’s still
nn funny and the
mny lasts with you
mtside of theater; just
imagining MinirMe
in his mini chair is
hilarious.
Solid cast
helps rescue
‘Daugther’
By Cuff Hicks
Film Critic
I’ll confess that I went into “The General’s
Daughter” with a bit of hesitation. The trailer did
n’t look incredibly gripping, the plot sounded pre
dictable and director Simon West’s last film, “Con
Air,” was a lot of good pieces that never really
added up to more than to a mediocre movie.
It’s nice to be wrong every so often.
“The General’s Daughter” is a nice, solid
thriller that depends mostly on performances and
The Facts
Title: The General's Daughter”
Stars: John Travolta, Madeline Stowe,
James Cromwell, Timothy Hutton,
James Woods
Director: Simon West
Rating: R (graphic sex/violence)
Grade: B
Five Words: Flashy, but sharp and
solid
a reasonably well-written screenplay. Based on the
book by Nelson DeMille, the story centers on the
death of Capt. Elizabeth CampbeH (Leslie
Stefanson) and the investigation into that death.
Unlike your traditional cop flick, however,
\ everything here is strictly military. It’s a military
\ . murder, so they bring in a military cop. The
| Criminal Investigations Division sends
Warrant Officer Paul Brenner (John
A Travolta) to find the killer.
njf Lots of little things bog the investigation
down, however. The Captain has a mysterious
\ I background, her body is found naked tied to tent
|f stakes, everyone on the wants this dealt with in a
II hurry as the FBI will come in and take over in
/ three days and ... oh yeah, did I mention she’s
I the daughter of the general of the base (James
f Cromwell), who just retired and is considering
i running for Vice President?
I The film is helped immensely is Carter
\ Burwell’s fantastic score. A blend of old southern
\ recordings and trip-hqp beats, the music is a
\ great blend of soulful sounds and catchy
rhythms.
The fact that West gathered a real ensemble
cast helped too. While Travolta puts on a good
I performance, as do Cromwell, Madeline Stowe
l \ as Travolta’s partner and Timothy Hutton,
p \ The show stealer, however, is James
I \ Woods, who plays the murder victim’s boss at
I? \ the Psychological Operations department on
% ) the base. Woods has always been creepy, but
W / here he goes for the flat out mind games and
f J ' succeeds elegantly. His performance alone is
' worth the price of admission. If the memory of
| the Academy can last, this might actually earn him
another feest Supporting Actor nod. He’s that
good.
This isn’t to call the film perfect however.
After the well-done opening sequence, there’s
about 15 minutes of set-up for Travolta’s character
that seems like it has a touch more action than
' really necessary, as if West felt obligated to jam a
> little in. J
Also, as the film \ytaps up, the ending wob
bles a little bit, but for the most part it wraps up
\ fairly well. A few plot threads don’t close off as
well as they could, but it’s still good enough to
make solid weekend entertainment