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Austin Powers in Goldmember

Seen: 2002.07.29   ¶   Reviewed: 2002.08.04

A not-unmomentous occasion. It was my suggestion that Alliance Atlantis, Austin Powers’ Canadian distributor, pay for its MoPixing. After being on the case for months, and after a conference call and some snatchmails, they did it, and I saluted them.

Bit of a coup, yes? For everyone, yes? We’re very proud of ourselves, yes?

And where will it lead?

Well, we’re working on that.

So we had a regular Movie Night, this time at Yonge & Eg. Exiting the subway, I see an Indic blind fellow (quite handsome) with a taller Caucasoid “friend.” They’re both in business-casual clothes, though the Indic’s are actually all right. (It’s not that the white guy has no taste. The idea of taste has never crossed his mind. You can’t have none of something that’s never been measured.) They are obviously going to see the movie. The Woman’s Intuition confirmed it.

Lo and behold, there they are in the ticket line. And, as Mr. X and I clear the escalators, there they are at Guest Services®.

What have I remarked about blind people who go to MoPix movies? They never ever want to talk.

– Are you trying out the description headset? I ask, making the capital mistake of failing to say hello and introduce myself, so it’s obviously all my fault.

– Yup.

– What do you think of it?

– It works well.

And that was it.

The sign-in procedure? It’s “legit” according to the most recent orders: We show ID, they jot the name down, they hand the ID back, they ask for a phone number. Still not the right way, but I think Famous Players is sticking with a range of wrong ways by choice.

In we go. Again miraculously, the dead-centre seats are available. We sit right down and dial in. Immediately I hear a guy behind us say “It’s for the closed captioning.”

Well. Word gets out, I gather.

The Indic d00d, who is probably gay, as is his gay geek business-casual boyfriend unit, is two rows below. He too sits there with an immobile head during the show. So I guess only the people behind me are annoyed by the ray-tracing LED atop the headset.

Now, what are the themes of this viewing of Austin Powers?

Well, A#1, I own.

Then the surprising fact – when will I learn about the pre-cynicism reflex? – that I enjoyed the fuck out of the movie. It’s vulgar, crass, and scatological, but not seedy, and certainly not stupid. What kills you is either or both of the latter. Why else is South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut such a great film, respected even by intellectual film critics?

The funniest thing I ever saw in a movie theatre was the first eight minutes of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? – and how intellectual was that?

“Funny” may work intellectually, but you only worry about that after you stop laughing. And I so very much despise “film intellectuals” with their laughter at inappropriate moments; they only laugh at whatever might be structurally “funny,” that is, meeting some strict legal or (post)structural(ist) definition of “funny.” Film intellectuals would be shocked and disappointed to find Austin Powers merely funny rather than “funny”; they’d hate themselves for laughing and would look down on everyone else for doing it too, because obviously the rest of them don’t know they’ve been duped, do they?

Sorry. It’s a bit of a bugbear for me. I grew up on the funniest intellectual comedy there ever was (Monty Python) and I know my shit cold.

Now, the strange thing is that Goldmember gives film intellectuals quite a lot to talk about. It’s notably metacinematic, with films within films rivaling Björk’s “Bachelorette” (d. Michel Gondry). And actual use of an old Michael Caine film as footage of his character’s previous life – just what Soderbergh did with Terence Stamp in The Limey! (The latter is a stunning achievement.) I just want the damned film intellectuals to rip off their corsets, unplug their arses and laugh a little.

The last of our themes? I bailed on the first Austin Powers after 10 minutes. Yuck! And I refused to see the sequel. Based on reviews, it seems that most of what I found humorous in Goldmember was a rehash from the previous movies. Like I care. Because when it comes to Austin Powers, I’m like a virgin.

Caption quality

Not an easy captioning job, what with the many accents and very fast patter. Looks like crap on a 3-line × 32-character LED display using a 7×5-pixel dot matrix.

“Small-town FBI agent/single mother”: The punctuation was read aloud. Why is it not obvious that you just type the punctuation? The line was captioned the worst possible way –

small-town FBI agent-

slash-single mother

– that is, in two captions, broken at the worst possible spot.

The very amusing jazz instrumental “Soul Bossa Nova” by Quincy Jones forms the backbone of the opening dance number. You are all of course familiar with the tune because it was sampled by the Dream Warriors in “My Definition of a Boombastic Jazz Style” circa 1990. I was waiting for the song to be IDed, because I had blanked on the original title (if I ever actually knew it). No such luck!

Another case of UNCLEAR ON THE CONCEPT of the use of dashes:

-You okay, Mini Me?

Correct ways to do it?

You okay, Mini Me?       Yeah.

– DR. EVIL: You okay, Mini Me?
– Yeah.

“One-hour Martinized” should be rendered thus (or perhaps “One Hour Martinized”) and not one hour martinized.

Hi, there: Drop, the comma.

Have I ever seen a more fabulous speaker identification than this one?


All guards report to cell block "A" immediately: I tire of these mistakes. Why so “free” with the “quotation marks”? That’s what “illiterate” people do as an indicator of their “indecision” and their “unsure” writing style. Oh, and one tiny detail – a sign on the wall clearly says CELL BLOCK A. Hence, All guards report to Cell Block A immediately.

Easy peezy, lemon squeezy: If I’m not mistaken, the British alliteration “easy peasy” is written thus. One would need a book of British idioms.

“Scheisse!” is repeatedly captioned as Scheiss!

Description quality

Wow. We’ve got Miles Neff back. And he’s never had to swear so much in his life! We’ve got shit, shat, and tits in the same movie!

Two d00dz (or whomever – I forget) “take turns showing off their moves.” Now, didn’t I receive word from an interested party that some postproduction house in L.A. provided “audio description” for NBC Saturday-morning kids’ shows by merely reading the original script’s instructions to actors into a microphone?

One of the characters begins dancing with his broom while his co-worker watches. “[Character name] busts some of his best moves... Ashley and her mom are interrupted by an unexpected visitor. [Character name] tries to save their relationship with the one thing they both love – music.”

Isn’t “take turns showing off their moves” in that same category?

“He crosses off ‘have threesome with Japanese twins’ ”: No, it just says “threesome with Japanese twins” – no “have.”

“The brunette gets dressed”: Good to see unreconstructed 1970s-style sexism still flourishing down at the heavily gay and female Media Access Group at WGBH.

“A glossy purple Town Car”: I know they were using “town car” as a generic (like “van” or “sedan”), but it was an Eldo.

“A balding man in a gold shirt, gloves and hot pants”: He sure was! Later, another person “appears in a gold velour jogging suit.” Austin’s “crushed velvet” suits are described more than once. Love those fabric descriptions!

A subtitle is read “Is this true?” The title actually says “Is it true?” These misreadings keep happening. Why, exactly?

“A henchwoman hands him a gun”: There isn’t a gender-neutral version of “henchman,” so what else are you going to say? It’s such a delicious ’60s-style term anyway. (Wherease boys can also be “brunet.”) Why isn’t she wearing the hot pants?

“They speed away in the Pimpmobile”: Just getting to write the word “Pimpmobile” in a description makes up for having to describe so many tedious episodes of The Bernie Mac Show, doesn’t it?

Taco Bell product placement was ignored. For good or ill?

“Now Mini Me brings Nigel into a room with a bed”: Funny, a huge sign on the door reads BRIG. Whatever kind of room could it be?

Too many songs in the movie to read all their names during end credits, necessitating a description I’ve heard before: “and other songs.”

The movie was full of sight gags (with concepts resurrected from previous instalments, I am told). I’ve never seen subtitles so enjoyably fucked with before – not since that kooky episode of Animaniacs, anyway (and the Patricia Rozema contribution to Cosmos wasn’t funny, merely “funny”). “Please eat this shitake mushroom.” All very amusing. And football fans with letters painted on their adipose edemic corpulent torsos reading TITS. I couldn’t take notes fast enough.

Tons o’ fun.


Here’s a kooky bit. As part of our first-ever Canadian sponsorship of MoPix, I made sure that Alliance Atlantis got a credit in the description (as is always given) and in captions (as is never given).

The captioned credit read “Captioning sponsored by Alliance Atlantis Communications and New Line Cinema.” (I altered the capitalization.) The description said “with funding from Alliance Atlantis Communication and New Line Cinema.” The plural is correct, not the singular.

Exit interview


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