The fourth Austin Powers movie is reportedly in the works, and that's either good or bad news depending on how fond you are of Mike Myers' spy-spoof series.
But this much is true: franchises get lazy. And in spite of the Powers series past box-office mojo, by “Goldmember” the series was stumbling. Therefore, “Untitled Fourth Austin Powers Movie” would do well to take the following advice to heart.
1. Kill off Fat Bastard
Mike Myers suggested on the DVD audio commentary of “Austin Powers in ‘Goldmember’” that not only would Fat Bastard return for the next movie, but that he would regain the weight he lost in the third installment. The problem with this plan isn’t just that Fat Bastard is a repellent character and a lazy dumping ground for obesity gross-out humor, it’s that Myers’s baffling insistence on speaking in a gurgling, no longer funny Scottish accent is now way too connected to “Shrek.”
2. Go back to the well
“Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery” was a surprise hit not only because of the groovy 60s visuals and silly jokes, but because it was much more clever than anyone expected it to be. It referenced a movie nerd’s treasure trove of spy films and crazy mod-sploitation nuggets like “Beyond The Valley of The Dolls” and it did so in low-brow, stupid-smart style. The sequels, unfortunately, ditched the smart jokes for fart jokes. The next sequel could easily win back first-wave fans by simply not aiming for the gutter at every possible moment.
3. Don't overdo Mini Me, Scott Evil and Frau Farbissina
Beloved supporting characters with big personalities need to be given space, but not so much that they take over. Case in point: Mini Me threatened to overstay his welcome in “Austin Powers in ‘Goldmember,’” and the character became a prop. But that’s easily fixed with a tighter script. Meanwhile, if Myers can hold back from cluttering the screen with a variety of characters all played by himself, giving the comic talents of Seth Green and Mindy Sterling some room, the end result will feel more balanced, less like a manic Myers assault, and nothing like “The Love Guru.”
4. Make celebrity cameos mean something
Stuff the darn thing with famous faces for all we care, but don’t go for the quick, cheap “get.” Sure, give Tom Cruise and Gwyneth Paltrow a few funny lines each, but pass on of-the-moment reality show stars (“Goldmember” included the cast of “The Osbournes”) whose appearances will leave future viewers wondering why they were included at all. In other words, go for Helen Mirren and let “The Three Stooges” movie have Snooki and The Situation. Nobody’s going to be happy with the outcome of that mash-up.
5. Give 'Yeah, baby!' and 'Oh behave!' a rest
Once you’ve exhausted a catchphrase and turned it into a Halloween costume and a ring tone and a greeting card punch line and a talking keychain at Hot Topic, INVENT NEWER AND FUNNIER DIALOGUE. That’s why screenwriters get paid lots and lots of money, bay-bee.
Is Fat Bastard funny or disgusting? What would you like to see in a new "Austin Powers" film?
Dave White is a film critic for Movies.com