Monday Movie Review – Men in Black 2 (2002)

Product placement, bad CGI, and tee-hee boobs.

Product placement, bad CGI, and tee-hee boobs.

The Men In Black franchise is one of those that I actually thought would be fine for a sequel. A lot of stories end up being fairly well wrapped up and done without a need for more and, in fact, would be diminished by adding on. M.I.B. is one of those that had an interesting enough world built up in it and had enough money and star power behind it that making a sequel was a no-brainer. Unfortunately, after watching Men In Black 2, I realize that the script and decisions behind the movie were apparently also no-brainers.

So the movie does the worst thing you can do in a sequel which is immediately undo what the previous film had done. Hell, the movie is about undoing what the previous film had done since most of the plot revolves around getting Kay his memory back so he can be an agent again. Not only that but they just had the Laurel Weaver character, or Agent L at the end of the first movie, dismissed as not being there in a throw-away line. In addition, they really just make it so the character end up serving the plot they wanted to tell rather than the actions make sense from an organic place but I’ll get into that more in a second.

The basic plot is that there is a macguffin that will destroy earth but might also destroy some alien race but might also save some alien race? Don’t worry, the movie gives about as much of a shit about it as I do, which is to say not much at all. Anyway, some aliens try to hide it here in the 50’s and another alien wants it and apparently only Kay knows where it is but he’s mind-wiped. The evil alien, Serleena, disguises itself as a sexy lady because otherwise we wouldn’t get Lara Flynn Boyle walking around half-naked and making jokes about boobs make men stupid. Serleena, it should be noted, disables and takes over the entire M.I.B. headquarters without any issues or being detected; so apparently every agent that isn’t Jay or Kay is completely incompetent and it’s a wonder they manage to get their pants on the right way in the morning. Also, it should be mentioned that the fucking talking Pug dog is a main character this time.

I enjoyed the expansion of Will Smith’s character where we see him being like Kay and being a super awesome agent that gets results and handles things well under pressure. Unfortunately, the minute Tommy Lee Jones’s Kay is back, he reverts immediately to being comedy sidekick that doesn’t know what apples is. Kay also apparently decided that he would not only hide some alien thing that could end the world but not tell anyone about it before being mind-wiped, since flagrant and dangerous disregard for his job and the safety of the planet was totally what that character was all about. We also get Jay just telling Rosario Dawson’s character everything about the M.I.B. and aliens and then not mind-wiping her because he has known her for like an hour but apparently has fallen in love with her because…I guess because she’s the love interest.

Much as the alien stuff is fun and interesting, this movie just leans real heavy on the CGI for a lot of the scenes and it isn’t the worst but it certainly isn’t the best. It’s sad since the few practical effects they used (mostly a couple alien heads) actually looked quite good. They have some terrible throw-away jokes that come back like a boomerang and are no better on the return trip, such as Michael Jackson is an alien! Did you not think that was hilarious when we devoted multiple minutes to that the first time? Well don’t worry, we’ll have a call back to it later! Really all of the humor here is CGI slapstick (most of it) or really, really bad jokes that are probably puns. Bonus points for having an alien race named the Ballchinians that have balls on their chin. Good stuff.

In all, the whole effort seemed incredibly lazy and poorly thought out. The actors all give decent enough performances but they are really working with material that should not have made it past the rough draft stage. I’ll give this movie a 2 out of 5 since it was at least not constantly painful to watch, thanks mostly to Smith and Jones.

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