Things Fall Apart

Scarfaced, chrome-domed, pinky-nibbling, quote-mark-miming Dr. Evil remains the franchise's funniest personality, but Myers reduces his screen time by contriving yet another alter ego for himself: the double-jointed, lamé-suited Goldmember, so named for . . . oh, why bother. Much of the hilarity surrounding the new villain has to do with his being Dutch; that there's nothing inherently funny about Dutchness is precisely the joke. (Dr. Evil's adoptive parents, we're reminded, were Belgian—look for a Luxembourgian scoundrel in the next movie to complete a bizarre Benelux triple crown.) A comic creation more perversely random than actually amusing, Goldmember keeps his flaking skin in a pocket-sized tin; elsewhere, Myers's body-horror fixations approach elephantine proportions with the unwelcome return of the sweaty, hirsute Fat Bastard.

The strategy of attenuation and reiteration backfires most of the time (though Fred Savage's mole with a mole does somehow get funnier). Erratically enlivened by brief salvos of inspiration, AP3 is largely content to elbow the winks-per-minute count toward critical mass. Complicity here means reaching across the fourth wall to congratulate audiences on their superiority to the endlessly recycled material you've just sold them. In a they-know-that-we-know-that-they-know-it's-rubbish hall of mirrors, nothing matters but the simulacra of other movies and the glittering reflections of your myriad product placements.

Louder than bombs: Ford with Ingvar Sigurdsson in K-19
photo: George Kraychyk
Louder than bombs: Ford with Ingvar Sigurdsson in K-19


K-19: The Widowmaker
Directed by Kathryn Bigelow
Written by Christopher Kyle

Austin Powers in Goldmember
Directed by Jay Roach
Written by Mike Myers & Michael McCullers
New Line
Opens July 26

Eight Legged Freaks
Directed by Ellory Elkayem
Written by Elkayem & Jesse Alexander
Warner Bros.

Eight Legged Freaks doesn't so much remake any given critter-attack B-movie as dunk it in a broth of watery irony. In a declining Arizona mining town, a chemical spill causes spiders to grow as big as Ford Explorers. Prodigal son David Arquette takes charge; the other residents, shipped in from central casting, include love-interest sheriff, doofus deputy, corrupt mayor, precocious nerd child, and paranoid black man. Despite nifty F/X, first-time director Ellory Elkayem's staging is altogether devoid of variation. Amid numerous identical skirmishes with leapfrogging arachnids, trace elements of black comedy and intentional camp are discernible but utterly extraneous—the movie might as well be commenting on a Mystery Science Theater commentary.

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