Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (USA, 1999)
Directed by Jay Roach
Starring Mike Myers, Heather Graham, Michael York, Robert Wagner
While making a successful sequel is difficult in its own right, it becomes especially difficult when you're dealing with comedies. Great comedies so often work because they are beautifully self-contained, with the filmmakers quitting before the joke runs out of steam or the conceit begins to fall apart. Making a sequel, in which you revisit said jokes or conceit, has the effect of either stretching out or repeating the material until it's no longer funny, or even to the point where we begin to feel unfavourably towards the original.
National Lampoon's Animal House made it work, as did American Pie not long after this film's release. The problem is that it feels like a lazy comedown after the intelligence of the first film, and that Roach seems utterly incapable of marshalling the jokes into anything that could assist the storytelling or characters.
The Princess Bride, I spoke about the need for spoofs to have stories that work on their own terms - in other words, an internal logic so that the jokes make sense within their exaggerated take on our reality. While International Man of Mystery was reasonably believable in this regard, this film keeps on ramping up the ludicrous until we have given up trying to make sense of the world, and thereby given up on the characters within it. There are certain things that we can tolerate on the basis of generic convention - for instance, time seeming to stand still so Austin and Felicity can have a moment when the base is about to explode. But when you try to work out how the moon base actually got there, or how Fat Bastard hasn't aged in 30 years, there'll be precious little else that you can tolerate.