Austin Powers was the coolest comedy in a long, long time. I don’t think I ever laughed harder than when I first saw it back in May 97 (maybe when I saw “There’s Something About Mary”). Since then, I bought the video which I must have watched a dozen times. And I still laugh like a hyena each time, even though I know the movie by heart! I adore Mike Myers in “Wayne’s World”, but what makes “Austin Powers” even better is that Myers’ hilarious writing is matched by Jay Roach’s stylish and ambitious direction. But mostly, this film marked the creation of two hella cool characters, both accompanied by truck loads of one-liners. Austin Powers instantly became part of the general pop culture, with people of all ages and classes going ‘Yeah, baby’, ‘Oh, behave’ and ‘Shaggadelic!’ And what about the crushed velvet suits, the repelling teeth and the raging mojo ! But for my money, it’s Mike Myers’ other character that steals the film, the hilariously sinister, pinkie-sucking Dr. Evil, caught between the frickin’ idiots who work for him, his rebellious son and his hairless cat Mr. Bigglesworth. Well, they’re all back for “The Spy Who Shagged Me”. No need to say that I was eagerly anticipating this sequel, much more than any “Phantom Menace” or last Kubrick picture. The big question is: does “The Spy Who Shagged Me” live up to the original ?

The answer: a resounding Yeah, baby, yeah! It brings back everything I loved about the original along with a lot of new wild stuff. You’ve got to admire Mike Myers’ amazing sense of humor, cause this really is his baby : he co-produced it, wrote it and plays three of the major characters, à la Peter Sellers in Dr. Strangelove. I love how Myers works in all types of comedy and excels at everything, whether it’s puns, spoofs, burlesque, references, sexual innuendo, slapstick, lowbrow humor, sight gags, throwaway jokes, running gags… It never ever stops!

And believe it or not, amongst all this lurks a story! The movie begins where the previous one left off, with Austin Danger Powers and Vanessa (the sassy Elizabeth Hurley) enjoy their honeymoon, until an unfortunate mishap makes Powers single again and ready to swing! But as always, his nemesis Dr. Evil returns to pop his bubble with a new scheme to take over the world: he conceived a highly powerful “laser” which, once installed on the Moon, will turn it into a Death Star (!) which will destroy Washington… That is unless the world pays him a hefty ransom of one hundred… billion… dollars ! As if that wasn’t evil enough, Dr. Evil has also devised a time machine to go back to 1969 and steal Austin powers’ mojo! If the greatest strength of the Austin Powers movies is Myers’ keen writing, you also have to credit director Jay Roach, who makes it all into stylish, dynamic and colorful movies. The art direction is ultra groovy, the cinematography is smashing, baby, and the soundtrack (which boasts the sounds of Quincy Jones, the Who, Madonna, the Monkees, the Guess Who, Marvin Gaye, Green Day, as well as on-screen musical numbers from Burt Bacharach & Elvis Costello and even Dr. Evil himself, who delivers a phat rendition of Will Smith’s Just the Two of Us).

Last but not least is the stellar cast which gives life to the movie’s gallery of great characters. Myers’ Powers has become an icon, and he’s as shaggadelic as ever in his latest adventure, even though as far as I’m concerned, the funniest character is Dr. Evil, also played by Myers. What’s so hilarious about him is that he’s as evil as it gets, yet he’s always caught in ridiculous situations and arguments ! It’s very refreshing compared to how other movie villains just stand there and kill people with a straight face. Dr. Evil is surrounded by other great bad guys, like the eye-patched Number Two (Robert Wagner in the 90s, Rob Lowe in the 60s), the fascist Frau Farbissina (Mindy Sterling) and the Arab martyr Mustafa (A Night at the Roxbury’s Will Ferrell). I particularly dig Dr. Evil’s teenage son Scott (Buffy’s Seth Green), who’s constantly badmouthing his father’s evil but often idiotic ways. There are also new faces : Evil’s creepy miniature clone Mini-Me (Verne J. Troyer), the obscenely obese Scottish Fat bastard (Myers again!) and 3rd Rock’s Kirsten Johnson as a randy Russian spy. Not to forget CIA agent Felicity Shagwell (the incredibly hot Heather Graham), who joins Austin in his mission, and eventually in bed of course ! There are also cameos from Tim Robbins, Ron Howard’s brother Clint, Woody Harrelson, Willie Nelson, Jerry Springer, model Rebecca Romjin-Stamos…

The only reserve I have with “The Spy Who Shagged Me” is common with most sequels: it doesn’t quite have the originality and spontaneity of the original. What I mena is that it sometimes seems like Myers knows what worked in the first movie, so he does it again and again. It’s still funny, just not as striking as the first time. Even then, the movie is the most mindless fun you’re likely to have at the movies this years. It’s great fun from the first shot (one of the many pokes at “Star Wars”) up to the very end of the closing credits. Yeah, baby!