Men in Black II (PG)

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The ViewBirmingham Review

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Review byMatthew Turner29/07/2002

Three out of five stars
Running time: 90 mins

After Star Wars Episode II, Stuart Little 2, Austin Powers 3 and now Men In Black II, it’s beginning to look very much like The Summer Of Sequels.

This lack of originality is reflected perfectly in Men In Black II, which is content to simply rehash all the best jokes from the original film, then sit back and watch the money roll in. Fans of the first film won’t find anything to complain about, but if you found the original oddly disappointing, you won’t see anything here to change your mind.

Giant Space Bug

The plot is pretty simple. Giant Space Bug Serleena comes to earth in search of the mysterious Light of Zartha. Wisely, she takes the form of lingerie model Lara Flynn Boyle and then hooks up with a two-headed henchman played by Jackass’ Johnny Knoxville.

The whereabouts of the mysterious Light, however (upon which, naturally, the fate of the universe depends) are locked away in the brain of Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones). Only he’s been de-neuralised and has given it all up to go and work in the post office, so (What? You’ve guessed? Blimey – perhaps you should write MIB III) it’s up to Agent J (Will Smith) to forcibly drag K out of retirement and save the world. Again.

Michael Jackson In Alien Shock

Watching Men In Black II, it’s extremely hard to shake off the idea that the writers weren’t simply going through the script with a checklist of all the best bits of the first film. You want more of Frank The Talking Pug? Check. (And –hey- let’s have him sing this time). You liked the Worm Guys? Bring ‘em all back. More of the guy whose head keeps getting blown off and growing back? Can do. “Hilarious” celebrity cameos by people who –snigger- are “really” aliens? How about Michael Jackson? Huh? Huh? Even the final scene (and two of the best gags) are a nod towards the ‘twist’ ending of the original.

The acting is disappointing , too - Will Smith, in particular, seems like he’s coasting. Perhaps this is because his character is the ‘serious’ one this time round, but there’s none of the trademark Smith ‘star quality’ (coolness, attitude, call it what you will) on display here. Admittedly, Jones has never been the most animated of actors, but he’s practically soporific here. Similarly, love interest Rosario Dawson (from Sidewalks of New York and Josie and the Pussycats) gets much too little to do – her part is entirely superfluous.

And The Winner Of The Oscar Is ….

This means that the show is stolen by Flynn Boyle (her corsetiere should get an Oscar), who vamps it up for all she’s worth, Rip Torn as the unflappable Agent Z and –yes- Frank The Talking Pug, whose car-window rendition of ‘I Will Survive’ provides one of the film’s three best gags. (Of the other two, one involves an unexpectedly off-the-wall moment of physical comedy between Smith and some bubble-wrap, and the other is an inspired gag involving the contents of a train locker and a video club membership card).

It’s rumoured that the ending of Men In Black II was reshot, because it was originally set to feature the World Trade Centre opening up to reveal a nest of Giant Bugs. If that’s true, it would account for the lacklustre climax here.

Ultimately, Men In Black II does everything the original did – even the unusually (for a blockbuster) short running times are identical. If you liked the first film, then you’ll like the sequel, but it’s neither as exciting nor as out-and-out funny as it should be.

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Content updated: 20/10/2017 06:21

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