Review: Men in Black III

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Men in Black 3

I liked Men in Black III more than it deserved. I understand why: I saw this movie with my parents, and they looooovvvved it. They loved that nice Will Smith, they always love Tommy Lee Jones, and they sure did like That Other Guy too (Josh Brolin). It was the most fun they'd had at the movies in ages, and they planned to find a copy of the original Men in Black on DVD when they got back home, which they were looking forward to watching for the first time. I can't help but feel grateful.

Although not as fresh and funny as the first movie in the series, my enjoyment of Men in Black 3 wasn't solely because family members were laughing nearby. The first 20 minutes or so had some downright painful dialogue and clunky direction, but once the machinations of the plot were in full swing, the actors' charm carried the day.

Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones return as agents J and K, respectively. They're still fighting alien crime in New York, still armed with those little flashy things, but J is frustrated with K's seeming lack of emotion and empathy. Meanwhile, an alien assassin whom K took down decades ago and locked into a special prison on the Moon has escaped and is devising a way to get his revenge on K and restore his full powers: time travel. And that's how Josh Brolin as a young(er) Agent K figures into the plot.

Brolin is not only convincing at Jones, his likeable boyishness eclipses the older actor's performance, which frankly seemed to be on autopilot at times. Brolin's character's borderline-hokeyness occasionally reminded me of his role as George W. Bush in the movie W. -- I'm thinking particularly of a conversation involving pie -- but that simply added to the fun. Smith coasts along with his usual winning characterization from the series.

And that's the thing about Men in Black III: it coasts. Director Barry Sonnenfeld, who has helmed all three films, introduces nothing new or different to the mix; this is just another riff on the first movie's concept and type of humor. The jokes about the flashy thing. The gags about whether bizarre celebrities are aliens, and how the most ordinary folks may be concealing surprising otherworldly qualities. J's banter smacking up against K's minimalist conversational style. Jemaine Clement was unrecognizable and wonderfully villainous as Boris the Animal, but even that reminded me of something else: the villains in Mystery Men.

Still, many of the jokes do succeed, even on this third go-round, for which credit goes to Etan Cohen (whom I persist as thinking of as the Idiocracy writer). The supporting actors make the most of their roles: Emma Thompson, Michael Stuhlbarg (who is downright cuddly), David Rasche ... and this is the second time this year I've enjoyed a surprise Bill Hader ambush. (I can't mention the other movie; it would spoil the surprise.) The 3D does nothing whatsoever other than raise the ticket price, and in fact in one scene involving laser lights in an electronics store was nearly a migraine trigger.

This is a nice little blockbuster, y'know? And you can take your parents to see it without worrying they will be shocked or offended (although my mom did find some of the aliens to be a little gross). After all, they do love that Tommy Lee Jones. Save your money and dispense with the dark glasses in the theater, though, if you can find Men in Black III in traditional 2D.

well I love Will, but why is

well I love Will, but why is he only doing sequels, I'm tired of men in black, bad boys, and handcock, lol, do something new please.