Monday, July 22, 2013

Men in Black II

Men in Black II (2002)
Directed by: Barry Sonnenfield
Written by: Lowell Cunningham, Robert Gordon, Barry Fanaro
Starring: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Rip Torn, Rosario Dawson, Lara Flynn Boyle
Rating: PG-13
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

And So You're Back, From Outer Space!

Hola! I'm back from vacation, so I'm slowly working on the mountain of un-written entries that have piled up after my two days of nothing but lounging around a Gatlinburg cabin and watching movies! As fun as that was, I now feel obligated to write on them in a reasonable time frame, so I can recall them while they're fresh. With this particular entry, that shouldn't be an issue. Why? I've easily seen this film 100 times.

I'm prepping my bold statement about this film now, so you can stew about it and argue with me at the end of the entry in the comments or via Twitter or Facebook.

Bold Statement:

(LOL, see what I did there?)

Men in Black II is better than the original.

Yes, I do understand that I may receive hateful comments despite this just being an opinion. I get it, I really do. This is not to say that I don't love or appreciate the original Men in Black, either! Obviously there couldn't be a sequel without an original. I think as far as fun, action/comedy/scifi films, that Men in Black II accomplishes more. It's funnier, just as action packed, and faster paced than the original.

Again, I realize there are a lot of sequel hating movie purists who will give me crap on this one, that's why I went ahead and got it out of the way. More on that later!


Agent J (Will Smith; Seven Pounds) stumbles on to a case that MIB worked on years ago involving Serleena (Lara Flynn Boyle; Wayne's World) forcing his need for help from Zed (Rip Torn; Dodgeball, a True Underdog Story), who in turn insists that he de-neuralize his former partner, Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones; Lincoln) to help him save the earth...again!!


I've always loved this film...almost as much as I love gettin' flushed!

The comedy in this film is very strong. Will Smith has always been one of my favorite comedic actors (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air will always hold a special place in my heart, and never ceases to make me laugh), plus the straight man Tommy Lee Jones, and comedic ensemble of humans and aliens alike, make for a strong comedic presence. Frank the pug, the worms, the two headed guy (Johnny Knoxville; The Ringer) and Jeebs (Tony Shaloub; Galaxy Quest) are some supporting cast highlights.

One of my favorite aspects of a comedy film is its quotability (I'm not 100% sure that is a word, but let's go with it). Of course, what I mean by that is when a movie is extremely quotable like Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story or Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. While more people from my generation have seen the latter two than MIIB, it still retains that same memorable quote material.

The action half of the film is strong as well. I wouldn't say it was AS strong, but largely due to a static performance by the film's main villain, Serleena. Johnny Knoxville accomplished his dopey sidekick role (in true Men in Black fashion) but the main villian just didn't seem to be evil enough. Ironically, Lara Flynn Boyle was nominated for a Razzie for Worst Supporting Actress for this role!

Rosario Dawson (Seven Pounds) stays relatively neutral throughout the film. She has a ton of acting talent but didn't pick a great venue to showcase that. She serves her purpose in the film well, though, and I have nothing bad to say about the performance she gave.

Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are as compatible as they always were, and the supporting cast (aside from Boyle, of course) shines in its comedic glory!

Response to Bold Claim:

Now that you have had time to either get madder about my bold claim, or stop and reflect, I wanted to elaborate on the claim I made that MIIB is better than the original, MIB. Historically, it is not often that the general public accepts sequels as better than the first. The Godfather Part II, The Empire Strikes Back, and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation often top a list of sequels widely accepted as better than the original, though often that list is a short one. I think Men in Black II should at least be considered.

Of course, I have never met anyone (I mean it. ANYONE) who agrees with me, so of course there will be dissent. Though, if you are a kindred spirit, I would love to meet, chat hours on end with, and become best friends with you. Always looking for people who also love to get flushed!

Here are some reasons that I love MIIB better than the first:

1. It's funnier. I'm a big fan of movies with both comedy and action and MIIB doesn't disappoint.

2. Many of your favorites from the first film return. I think this is an important part of any sequel. Sequels with only a few (or one) returning character can sometimes be interesting, and even great movies in their own right, but more often than not, I want to see all of my favorites return! MIIB brought back not only Agents J and K, but also Zed, Frank, Jeebs, and the Worms. Not even the third installment of the Men in Black series can boast that, and (while I enjoyed it) I was honestly disappointed by that.

3. It enhances the experience of the first installment. If you have seen the first MIB movie, you are 10x as likely to enjoy the second. Through dialogue and visuals alike, it pays homage to the original in several ways, all while preserving its integrity as a stand-alone film. Though it is made better for a franchise fan, it is also a fun time on its own.

All the above reasons are what I look for in a sequel. Though I can certainly appreciate The Dark Knight's of my day, with a sequel to a fun movie, I expect just as much if not more fun.

Again, I'd love to hear your responses to this. Let's discuss! I could discuss all day!

Final thoughts:

I say you should see this movie, if you haven't. I'd recommend watching the first MIB, then the 2nd, then waiting 10 years and then seeing the third. Just kidding, but seriously.

I enjoy this movie for several reasons that I've already stated, but don't forget what you can learn from it. Your calling is your calling, whether you accept it or not.

Watch this film with an open mind. While I'm sure the folks at Universal greenlighted this sequel as a cash cow, it should not be written off as such. Watch with an open mind, otherwise, "(Jeff) I am SO NOT IN THE MOOD FOR YOU RIGHT NOW!!"

That about wraps up my entry for one of my favorite sequels. I really encourage feedback of any kind, so please do not hesitate to comment or tweet me @archivesreport or find us on Facebook! Thanks so much for reading! I look forward to your thoughts! Thanks so much!

God bless!