Not even bronze

With Austin Powers in Goldmember, Mike Myers may have creatively shot his wad with this particular franchise. Although there are certainly decent moments, including a hilarious opening sequence, much of the movie is unfunny in the way that a drunken relative at a wedding or a disgruntled employee on his last day at work might be.

Myers once again plays Austin Powers, that international man of mystery whose appetite for the ladies is surpassed only for his penchant for double entendres. This time, Austin goes back in time to rescue his father, super-spy Nigel Powers (Michael Caine), who has been kidnapped by a slimy Dutch villain named Goldmember. While in the ’70s, Austin is aided by the lovely and lethal Foxy Cleopatra, a double agent. They return to the present only to discover that Goldmember is in cahoots with Austin’s nemesis, Dr. Evil.

When I originally heard there was going to be a character named Foxy Cleopatra (a combination of Pam Grier’s Foxy Brown and Tamara Dobson’s Cleopatra Jones from the ’70s), I was giddy with anticipation. This is just the kind of silliness that made the first Austin Powers movie an unexpected surprise. But not much is done with the idea. Beyonc� Knowles is engaging as Foxy Cleopatra, but she’s not given much to do except say "shazam!" when she hits someone and get hit on every two seconds by a bad guy.

In fact, much of the film involves either gags that are recycled from the first two movies or new gags that are not actualized enough. There are so many stretches of excruciatingly unfunny silences that the comical moments are just not enough to redeem them. It’s as if you’re at a restaurant where the first course and the dessert are exquisite but everything else in between is horrible

This flick may not be the worst ever made, but it certainly shares something with all bad movies: a certain contempt for its audience, an arrogance. What made the first Austin Powers so engaging was that the actors apparently had fun. They don’t look like they’re having much fun this time.

Austin Powers in Goldmember starts out with a bang and closes with a great parody of Britney Spears, with the lady herself being a good sport and along for the ride. If only the rest of the movie were half this clever.

With a $71-million opening weekend, I’m betting Myers and company have already inked the deal for Austin Powers 4. If Myers wants a fifth one, he’s got to do better than this.

Austin Powers in Goldmember

Rated PG-13

Playing at area theaters

One-and-a-half reels out of four

Video Pick

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Rated PG-13

Coming out Tuesday

Peter Jackson’s epic film adaptation of the J.R.R. Tolkien classic not only met expectations, it exceeded them. With an all-star cast that includes Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler and Cate Blanchett, the film was nominated for 13 Oscars. Wood plays Frodo, the carefree Hobbit upon whom great responsibility is thrust when the wizard Gandalf (McKellen) discovers that he has in his possession The One Ring that Rules Them All. Jackson’s vision of Tolkien’s Middle Earth is by turns whimsical, mythical and even brutal. It is an unforgettable experience, to say the least.