Men in Black II (2002)Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence and some provocative humor.
Starring Tommy Lee Jones, Will Smith, Rip Torn, Rosario Dawson, Patrick Warburton, Lara Flynn Boyle.
LVJeff's Rating: 5/10
Photo ©Columbia Tristar. All rights reserved.
Like Original, Like Sequel
I was surprised to find out that many people really liked Men in Black. I didn't care much for it myself. Its comedy was hit-and-miss and its weirdness was overdone in a ha-ha-look-at-me kind of way. It also had a strange self-conscious sense of comic timing, as if it was trying very hard to be precise and then put a hand to its ear to listen for ensuing laughter. I'll admit that I laughed a few times, but in the end I wasn't wowed.
It did have good chemistry between its leads, Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith. I'd bet that Smith could make me laugh without the help of a director, and Jones can play the deadpan role as if he were born for it. Each of them inhabits his own personal part of the comic bad-ass spectrum, so their pairing is ideal and covers a lot of humorous ground. Even though their characters were mostly two-dimensional, Smith and Jones were indeed the best part of Men in Black.
That movie had a lot of frosting to offer: strange-looking aliens, neat little gadgets, and a funny score. However, it ultimately left me with nothing to fondly recall. It was trying to be a spoof, but it didn't seem to fully commit to this goal; it was as if there was an undercurrent asking the audience to take some of the situation seriously, if only just a little. For whatever reason, it didn't feel "spoofy" enough, so I couldn't fully appreciate its comedy.
Now you're probably wondering what movie I'm actually reviewing here. Well, go ahead and take those first three paragraphs and apply them to Men in Black II. The sequel gave me the exact same feelings as the first movie did, for the exact same reasons. Some of the movie amused me. I even laughed out loud at parts. But the comic timing didn't always work, the level of "spoofness" wasn't always at full-blast, and the scenes and characters had little weight to them, rendering them all unmemorable.
I've heard that the fans of the first Men in Black have come away hating the second one. I wonder why. They felt like the same movie to me.
©Jeffrey Chen, Jun. 6, 2002