I have very fond memories of when this movie was released in 1999, even though I never actually saw it that year. See, the first Austin Powers was a runaway success, and The Spy Who Shagged Me was a highly anticipated sequel that fans were hoping would serve up even more slapstick and gross out gags. But many parents (including mine) felt that the movie was way too foul for its PG-13 rating (the title of the film is the British vernacular for fucking a spy!) But, make something forbidden or controversial and the teens will come. And just like every banned copy of The Catcher in the Rye, Brave New World or Huckleberry Finn, teens swarmed into cinema halls and proudly watched Fat Bastard talk about his shits to their parents discontent. God Bless America.
Maybe 12 or 13 years ago I was finally able to watch The Spy Who Shagged Me and I loved it. There’s something raunchy and raw about it, even beyond its controversy, that makes it more exciting than the other Powers films. The first Austin Powers was a better, well-crafted film, but this movie has the full confidence to say it doesn’t want to be the well-crafted film, it just wants to stick to the fart jokes, verbal jabs and slapstick lollygagging that made the first fun in the first place.
The only weakness in the film is its namesake, Austin Powers. The British spy is the least funny or interesting of any of the characters in the movie. He gets a few good lines in now and then, with the attempted assassination at his London pad being his most hilarious scene, but Austin’s just the vehicle for others to bounce their madness off of. Dr. Evil, of course, is the character we love the most, with every scene in his nefarious Volcanic lair like it was crafted by the most talented SNL writer alum.
Again, it isn’t the best Austin Powers film but it is the funniest. That’s a strange distinction to make, but if you want to have an engaging, hilarious moviegoing experience, the first one’s your bag. If you want to watch a collection of madcap SNL sketches all loosely strung together, Spy Who Shagged Me is your poison. Goldmember is good, but Spy Who Shagged Me is when the series’ mojo was at its most powerful baby.