After the success of its 1997 predecessor, Men In Black II marks the return of Will Smith to the July 4th weekend box office. Despite securing the holiday weekend as what the star has called "Big Willy Weekend," Men In Black II fails to repeat the magic of Men In Black. The movie is amusing, yes, but lacks the freshness and originality of the first.
A two or three minute cheesy 70's television documentary introduces the entire plot. I repeat, the entire plot.
In July 2002, the diabolical alien plant Serleena (Lara Flynn Boyle) takes on the form of a sexy Victoria's Secret model with "potential" and returns to planet Earth in search of the Light of Zartha. With the aid of the dimwitted alien Scrad, his head-in-a-backpack sidekick Charlie (both played by Johnny Knoxville of MTV's Jackass fame) and enough weird-looking aliens to make me think I was watching a Star Wars movie, Serleena has until midnight to acquire that which she desires.
Agent Jay (Smith), now one of the top dogs of the secret government organization known as the Men In Black, must now find his old partner, Agent Kay (Tommy Lee Jones), the only man who knows anything about the whereabouts of the Light.
The problem? Well, those of you who watched Men In Black know that Kay was neuralized. He now resides in Trura, Massachusetts as the happy-go-lucky postmaster. Sporting blue khaki shorts and knee-high socks, Kay reluctantly follows Jay on a quest to reclaim his knowledge of the past.
The two go on what must be one of the coolest scavenger hunts this side of the universe, only to realize that the answer was right in front of their noses, make that mouths, on a napkin.
Jay's love interest in the movie, Laura Vasquez (Rosario Dawson), replaces Laurel from Men In Black, who, for hardcore fans, is referred to as returning to her job at the morgue. Despite receiving about as much, maybe less, screen time than Frank the Pug, Dawson has found her big break in this role as the pizza parlor worker who is witness to an alien murder.
Speaking of Frank the Pug, this scratchy-voiced canine is probably the best part about this movie. From his rendition of "I Will Survive" to his great witty side commentary, this animal actor shines. Whoever let this dog out is a genius.
The Worm Guys return as well, leaving their coffee room days for a swank apartment equipped with a spa, bar, and Twister.
Men In Black II also features cameo appearances by Martha Stewart on television, the beat-boxing styles of Biz Markie, and the king of pop, Michael Jackson, who looks all too fitting in this movie.
Plot-wise, this movie is no Academy Award winner, or nominee for that matter. II is much more light-hearted and fun than the first, but the plotlines almost parallel each other from start to finish. Maybe the writers played with the little flashy thing a bit too much. Really though, whoever watches this movie for the plot may need to be neuralized himself.
If you have the money to spend, go ahead, enjoy the 80+ minutes of comedic alien action, but this one is more of a renter.
Men In Black II, Columbia pictures, 88 min., is rated PG-13 and is playing in theaters nationwide. Official site: http://www.meninblack.com/
In selected theaters, prior to Men In Black II, is the very cute and very amusing - much more so than the movie following it - animated short ChubbChubbs about a scrawny, squeaky-voiced alien named Meeper who is set face-to-face with the most ferocious creatures in the universe.
ChubbChubbs, Columbia pictures, is rated G and is playing in selected theaters. Official site: http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/chubbchubbs
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