A decade-long gap between sequels could leave a franchise stale but in the case of Men in Black 3 it's the launch pad for an unexpectedly great blockbuster. The kooky antics of Agent J (Will Smith) and Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) don't stray far from their 1997 and 2002 adventures but without a bombardment of follow-ups to keep the series in mind the wonderfully weird sensibilities of Men in Black feel fresh Smith's natural charisma once again on full display. Barry Sonnenfeld returns for the threequel another space alien romp with a time travel twist — which turns out to be Pandora's Box for the director's deranged imagination.
As time passed in the real world so did it for the timeline in the world of Men in Black. Picking up ten years after MIB 2 J and K are continuing to protect the Earth from alien threats and enforce the law on those who live incognito. While dealing with their own personal issues — K is at his all-time crabbiest for seemingly no reason — the suited duo encounter an old enemy Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) a prickly assassin seeking revenge on K who blew his arm off back in the '60s. Their street fight is more of a warning; Boris' real plan is to head back in time to save his arm and kill off K. He's successful prompting J to take his own leap through the time-space continuum — and team up with a younger K (Josh Brolin) to put an end to Boris plans for world domination.
Men in Black 3 is the Will Smith show. Splitting his time between the brick personalities of Jones and Brolin's K Smith struts his stuff with all the fast-talking comedic style that made him a star in yesteryears. In present day he's still the laid back normal guy in a world of oddities — J raises an eyebrow as new head honcho O (Emma Thompson) delivers a eulogy in a screeching alien tongue but coming up with real world explanations for flying saucer crashes comes a little easier. But back in 1969 he's an even bigger fish out water. Surprisingly director Barry Sonnenfeld and writer Etan Cohen dabble in the inherent issues that would spring up if a black gentlemen decked out in a slick suit paraded around New York in the late '60s. A star of Smith's caliber may stray away from that type of racy humor but the hook of Men in Black 3 is the actor's readiness for anything. He turns J's jokey anachronisms into genuine laughs and doesn't mind letting the special effect artists stretch him into an unrecognizable Twizzler for the movie's epic time jump sequence.
Unlike other summer blockbusters Men in Black 3 is light on the action Sonnenfeld utilizing his effects budget and dazzling creature work (by the legendary Rick Baker) to push the comedy forward. J's fight with an oversized extraterrestrial fish won't keep you on the edge of your seat but his slapstick escape and the marine animal's eventual demise are genuinely amusing. Sonnenfeld carries over the twisted sensibilities he displayed in small screen work like Pushing Daisies favoring bizarre banter and elaborating on the kookiness of the alien underworld than battle scenes. MIB3's chase scene is passable but the movie in its prime when Smith is sparring with Brolin and newcomer Michael Stuhlbarg who steals the show as a being capable of seeing the future. His twitchy character keeps Smith and the audience on their toes.
Men in Black 3 digs up nostalgia I wasn't aware I had. Smith's the golden boy of summer and even with modern ingenuity keeping it fresh — Sonnenfeld uses the mandatory 3D to full and fun effect — there's an element to the film that feels plucked from another era. The movie is economical and slight with plenty of lapses in logic that will provoke head scratching on the walk out of the theater but it's also perfectly executed. After ten years of cinematic neutralizing the folks behind Men in Black haven't forgotten what made the first movie work so well. After al these years Smith continues to make the goofy plot wild spectacle and crazed alien antics look good.
Easy A a teen sex comedy with no actual sex aims rather conspicuously to plumb the best bits of Diablo Cody and Alexander Payne in its upside-down self-consciously campy take on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. In the role of its high-school Hester Prynne is Emma Stone the sly husky heroine of last year’s surprise hit Zombieland. Tested by a film that is far less clever than its director Will Gluck or screenwriter Bert Royal would have us believe (and they desperately want us to believe) she passes with flying colors delivering a performance that should elevate her into the upper echelon of actresses possessing brains and beauty in equal measure.
Stone plays Olive the kind of quick-witted hyper-literate teen that our educational system produces in ever-diminishing numbers. (If it ever produced them to begin with.) More knowing and sophisticated than others her age she is nonetheless not immune to the pressure of peers and the dread of being labeled a loser. Under duress by a prying friend (Aly Michalka) to dish the details of her birthday weekend a rather mundane affair mainly spent jumping on her bed to the tune of Natasha Bedingfield’s pop monstrosity “Pocket Full of Sunshine ” she feels compelled to embellish a bit and concocts an entirely fictional account of losing her virginity (dubbed the “V-Card” by Royal trying too hard) to a boy from a junior college across town.
Word of Olive’s deflowering spreads with startling speed aided by the incessant rumor-mongering of a catty Evangelical eavesdropper (Amanda Bynes). Suddenly branded a tramp on account of a seemingly harmless little lie Olive opts to embrace her newly tarnished reputation and put it to good use. In a viciously stratified social environment where even the most awkward acne-plagued pariah can earn respect and even admiration from members of the upper castes for having gone All the Way Olive anoints herself the Mother Theresa of (fake) sluts bestowing her blessing upon downtrodden gents in need of a reputation boost. And she resolves to look the part too traipsing around in scandalous bustiers and affixing the letter “A” to her chest.
There are limits to Easy A’s Scarlet Letter conceit overly Glee-ful tone forced repartee and pop-culture references (John Hughes is invoked so many times he should get a producer credit). Which is why director Gluck must be grateful to have found Stone who handles the verbal calisthenics of Royal’s script with charm and verve and a certain effortless appeal that keeps us engaged even as the film wallows in contrived irony and heavy-handedness. Keep your eye on her.
Top Story: Ben and Jen Hit the Ballpark
Although rooting for opposite teams, Ben Affleck, a rabid Boston Red Sox fan, and Jennifer Lopez, a New York Yankees follower, seemed to be enjoying themselves at the game between the two teams at Fenway Park Saturday night, CNN.com reports. Sitting together in the front row behind the Boston's dugout, the two watched the game and caught several glimpses of themselves during the broadcast on a plasma television installed in front of their seats.
Gibson's Passion Stirs Passion Online
The reported controversy surrounding Mel Gibson's upcoming movie The Passion of Christ (formerly known as The Passion) has fueled curiosity from fans who are now trying to see the unofficial trailer online. Reuters reports Harry Knowles of AintItCoolNews.com was the first to post a bootlegged copy of the Passion trailer about three months ago but eventually had to take it off his site because of overwhelming interest, which he said "ground [his server] to a halt." Still, thousands were able to download the trailer and distribute it over the Internet. Reuters reports Knowles won't say where he got the trailer, one that Gibson's Icon Prods. described as having been made for internal purposes and for screening to private groups. Icon told Reuters an official trailer for consumers is due out "by the holidays."
Kilmer Continues Goodwill Towards New Mexico
Val Kilmer took out an ad in the Santa Fe New Mexican thanking his New Mexico friends for standing by him in a controversy over a Rolling Stone article, The Associated Press reports. In an interview with the magazine, Kilmer is quoted as saying he lives in the "homicide capital of the United States," but the actor, who owns a ranch in Pecos, New Mexico, denies making the comments. "I love my state and Pecos where I live," he said in the advertisement.
Schwarzenegger Movie Memorabilia Goes on Sale
Michaek Kronick, a collector of costumes, props and oddities from Arnold Schwarzenegger's films, has decided to put his collection on the auction block, AP reports. The auction, to be held Nov. 15 and conducted by Heritage Galleries of Dallas, will include a pair of black boots from Terminator, a pair of boxers from True Lies and fake weapons and parachutes from Eraser.
Siegfried & Roy Tiger Released
The tiger that mauled magician Roy Horn of the Siegfried and Roy duo will be released from quarantine Tuesday and will continue to live at an animal habitat at the Mirage hotel-casino, officials told AP. Horn, 59, remained in critical condition Monday but was improving after two surgeries, massive blood loss and a stroke he suffered after the attack.
Fox Banks on Idol for Sweep Ratings
Fox is trudging out their American Idol stars for a Christmas special in hopes to generate ratings during the pivotal November sweeps Oct. 30-Nov. 26, according to The Hollywood Reporter. American Idol: Christmas Songs will air Nov. 25, two days before Thanksgiving, and will feature past Idol winners Kelly Clarkson and Ruben Studdard, along with runners-up Justin Guarini and Clay Aiken and other former contestants, singing carols and holiday favorites.
Role Call: Martin's in the Pink, Ruffalo Handles Collateral, Caught in Charlotte's Web
Steve Martin is in negotiations to play Inspector Jacques Clouseau in MGM's remake of the classic comedy The Pink Panther, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The original 1964 Pink Panther starred the late Peter Sellers as the bumbling French detective on the trail of a slippery jewel thief. Sellers kept the franchise going in four subsequent sequels…Mark Ruffalo is also in talks to replace Val Kilmer in the DreamWorks project Collateral. Directed by Michael Mann, the film stars Tom Cruise as a contract killer who forces a taxi driver (Jamie Foxx) to chauffeur him around on a series of hits. Ruffalo would play a detective on the heels of Cruise's character, the trade paper reports…Meanwhile, the beloved children's classic Charlotte's Web, about a pig named Wilbur and his friendship with a kindly spider named Charlotte, is being developed as a live-action/computer-animated feature for Paramount Pictures. No talent as been attached as yet.