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Men in Black II (*)
directed by Barry Sonnenfeld
written by Robert Gordon and Barry Fanaro, based on the Malibu comic by Lowell Cunningham

Men in Black II

Principal Cast
Tommy Lee Jones -- Kevin Brown/MiB Agent K (Kay)
Will Smith -- MiB Agent J (Jay)
Rip Torn -- MiB Chief Z (Zed)
Rosario Dawson -- Rita
Patrick Warburton -- MiB Agent T (Tee)
Brad Abrell -- Mannix
Lara Flynn Boyle -- Serleena
Paige Brooks -- Laranna, Queen of the Universe
Nick Cannon -- Autopsy Agent
David Cross -- Newton
Darrell Foster -- Autopsy Agent
Jeremy Howard -- Birdman, Smoking Postal Alien
Linda Kim -- Lauranna
Johnny Knoxville -- Scard/Charlie
Biz Markie -- Beat Box Alien
Bart Mixon -- Alien Puppeteer
Tony Shalhoub -- Jeebs
Ratings
Ratings are based on Rick's four star system.
One star - the commercials are more entertaining than the viewing.
Two stars - watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars - good solid entertainment.
Four stars - you never dreamed viewing could be this good.
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rick Norwood

Yes, Men in Black II really is as bad as you've heard. I won't call it MIIB because that would make it sound cool. It isn't cool. It's dumb.

You will probably go to see it anyway, so the good news is that there is a cartoon before the movie that is much better than the film itself. And there are no credit cookies, so you can heave a sigh of relief and leave as soon as the movie is over. (It has been a long time since anybody but Jackie Chan and Pixar have done credit cookies.)

I always walk into a movie with high hopes, even when other reviewers have all panned it. And sometimes my hopes are realized: I loved Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Not this time. There are some hints that there was once a clever script by Galaxy Quest co-author Robert Gordon, but the current version by Barry Fanaro is stupid almost beyond belief.

The other reviews I've seen all note that the sequel has the original director and cast. None mention that the original writer, Ed Solomon, is not on board. Was he too expensive after his work on Charlie's Angels? I don't know.

I'll just mention a few dumb moments, in case you take my advice and save your time and money.

Throughout the film it has been established that the car that Jay and Kay drive has doors that open automatically using a beeper. Nobody ever reaches for a door handle. Until, that is, the writer decides that it will be funny for Jay and Kay to squabble over who gets to drive, and has them both reach for the door handle at the same time.

There is a running battle between flying cars, and the car Jay and Kay is flying is repeatedly shot by the car the arch-villain is flying, which is right behind them. Then the writer decides that it will be funny if Jay and Kay try to change seats while they are flying, climbing across one another. So, while that is happening, the car isn't shot at. If it had been, the scene might have been funny.

It is well established that the elevator into the headquarters of the Men in Black opens onto a metal platform well above floor level. But then the writer decides it will be funny if a robot shoots into the elevator as soon as it opens. So, that one time the elevator opens at floor level. No metal platform.

Bad as the attempts as humor are, the serious moments are even worse. First, we are expected to believe that Kay has fallen so in love with an alien Queen of Outer Space that he is willing to hide a device on Earth that will explode and destroy the Earth at midnight on the day this movie takes place. On top of that, fifteen minutes after meeting her, not knowing who she is, Jay falls so in love with the daughter of the Queen of Outer Space that he is willing to let the earth be destroyed, along with him and her, in order to "protect" her. This is supposed to make us all misty-eyed.

All of the above could be forgiven if the movie were funny, but neither I nor anybody else in the audience the night I saw it laughed even once. Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones do their best, but not even they can bring material this bad to life.

Copyright © 2002 Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon.


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