In Black II
"Yes, MIBII is rote work and predictable, but with a philosophical
visual coming right at the end that extravagantly redeems it." -- Victoria
I like Frank the Pug, though." -- Robin Clifford, REELING REVIEWS
Well, I liked the whole thing, short though it was. You really have to admire these guys for putting everything they had on screen, dragging it out as long as they could get away with...and knowing when to quit.
I'm really grateful to them for casting Lara Flynn Boyle as the evil alien too. "With the right set of mammaries, I could rule this planet." Yeah? Go ahead and try. You can start with my neighborhood please.
The gags that were cute last time were getting old faster than an aldebarian stuck in a time-warp, and the film's basic gimmick is to take the neuralized Agent Kay and restore his memory so that he can save the world. Since that gimmic only works as long as it's not done yet, they drag it along for a while, but since it's the film's best joke, it's best not to have it over too soon.
Will's earned a reputation of being hard on his partners, which we see as he neuralizes Patrick Warburton (Agent "T") and sends him back to the farm, suggesting that he marry and have a happy life. Pity he doesn't neuralize the audience and tell us we had a great time. We learn more about some of our old pals from the first film, visit the "worms" bachelor pad and where they twister with Will Smith ("Agent J")'s new love interest, played by Paige Brooks. Piage just can't Jay out her mind...since he's smitten and keeps forgetting to zap her. Zed gets to jump around a bit, torment the usual alien suspects, and Will gets to show off his new car, "not that busted up old joint" that Tommy Lee Jones used to drive.
Unfortunately for the movie, MIB really is about "that busted up old joint." It's a retro-flick about a has-been conspiracy, old and lame enough to be useful only as a spoof. Trying to take it forward from the present just doesn't work. In the future, we won't live in the past.
Frank the dog doesn't even get a credit, but is considerably funnier than the cameos by Michael Jackson, who wants to be an MIB agent. Evidentially he's not black enough anymore to wear the suit. On the other hand, Will Smith should not be allowed to sing the credit song. Michael could have done that much, much, much better...and it would have been funny. It would even have been funny if the dog sang it, and they foreshadowed that. But they never ask me beforehand.
The good news is that although it's not quite as much fun as the first, it's still good fun. Tommy Lee Jones claims to not have a funny bone in his body, which makes him the ultimate straight man for Smith. If opposite attract, their chemistry should be no surprise, but it's a flawed chemistry, since Jones gets played for the fool for the first half, and it's just not his style.
It was fun. Maybe even more fun that Minority Report. If there's a drive in near you, see it there, under the starry summer sky. It'll seem a little less corny if you can look up at the stars and let yourself wonder what's still out there to find, and maybe, just maybe...you'll see a shooting star go by and think, fleetingly that you saw something odd about it. Will there be an MIB3? Well, keep watching the screen, it might happen. But we'd all be safer if it didn't.
© 2002 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu