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.
Sure, we are all suffering from a little bit of miss-out anxiety over not being able to attend the royal wedding in London, but let's calm down and put this all in perspective. There are a hell of a lot of awesome weddings that we're not invited to. Plenty of our own American version of royalty (celebrities) get married all the time and many don't even allow any public photo evidence! The nerve.
Well, in honor of the impending British nuptials and to make us all feel a little better about our lack of invitation, here are our top 10 celebrity weddings we weren't invited to, but we really, really wish we were.
Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi
August 16, 2009
Not only are these two hilarious, fun-loving people, but they are so in love and from the looks of their photos, the wedding was absolutely gorgeous. It was outdoors and the beautiful California sun and you know once the reception got going, Ellen broke out her famous dance move.
Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston
July 29, 2000
Yes, they've since split, but when these two first got together it was like California sunshine magic. They were so beautiful and tan together and they got married in Malibu amidst great secrecy. I don't think there's anyone who would want to have been present to see these smiling faces tie the knot before Angie came along.
Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise
November 18. 2006
Sure, they seem a little crazy. (I'm being nice, this is a wedding feature after all.) But guys, they got married in an Italian Castle. That is the most romantic wedding location ever. And hey, even if they are a little bonkers, there's at least the element of watching two of our most beloved Hollywood potentially mentally unbalanced folks get hitched. It's a huge cultural moment, okay?
Beyonce and Jay-Z
April 4, 2008
So, these two got secretly married in a private party with all of Destiny's Child, Gwyneth Paltrow, Chris Martin, and a whole bunch of Jay-Z's close friends who I think it's safe to assume are all fairly awesome. Plus, Jay-Z and Beyonce just might be some of the coolest people on the planet, which means their wedding was probably amazing.
Posh and Becks
July 4, 1999
These two are a bit much and it does look as if they've been practicing their Zoolander faces since birth, but come on, it's Posh and Becks. They got married somewhere outside of Dublin with all of the Spice Girls in attendance and Elton John sang them a song to celebrate. I'd also like to note that the Irish and the Brits love to drink, so I'm sure the booze was free-flowing.
JFK Jr and Carolyn Bessette
September 21, 1996
These two were the closest we Americans would ever get to having actual American royalty. The Kennedies are somewhat like royalty this side of the pond, and JFK Jr. was the dreamiest one of the clan. When he got married in a secret ceremony in Georgia with only 40 guests, including Ted and Caroline Kennedy, we all wished we could have been one of those lucky 40 people in the tiny Baptist church. A few of us also wished it was us at the alter, but that's another story.
Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio
January 15, 1954
These two didn't last long, but folks still remember how they got married. Donning a dark coat instead of the traditional while dress, Marilyn married the Yankee at San Francisco City Hall, dodging fans all the way to the judge. It wasn't much of a party, but to be one of those folks milling around city hall who just happened to see the briefly happy couple attempt a low-key ceremony would have been pretty amazing.
Bianca Pores Morena de Macias and Mick Jagger
May 12, 1971
There's really not much to this one other than the fact that it was a rock star wedding in St. Tropez. We wouldn't want to have witnessed this because...? No answer? Yeah, that's what I thought.
Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale
September 14, 2002
This pair had two weddings we weren't invited to. Way to stick it to us, guys. The first was in London with double-decker buses chauffering the guests to the reception and there was another one in LA two weeks later. Essentially, we all missed a double rock star double wedding. That stings.
Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier
April 19, 1956
This one is straight out of some fantasy film. Grace Kelly meets the Prince of Monaco, they fall in love, she quits acting and boards an ocean liner with a million suitcases and way too many dogs for eight days until she reaches Monaco, where she weds the Prince in the newly repainted Palace. Okay, maybe we didn't want to go, we just wanted to be her for a day to see what that was like.
Looney Tunes: Back in Action revisits an age-old Tunes question: Why does the affable Bugs reap all the fame and glory while the egocentric Daffy gets shafted again and again? Our duck friend quite frankly has had it up to his skinny neck playing second fiddle to the carrot muncher. All Daffy wants is a little recognition from the studio but the brothers Warner (actual twin brothers as we come to find out) decide instead to let Daffy out of his contract on the advice of their no-nonsense VP of comedy Kate Houghton (Jenna Elfman). Bugs however knows they're making a mistake. Even though Daff bears the brunt of the abuse Looney Tunes would fail without him and Bugs convinces the powers that be they need the nutty mallard. If the plot had only followed this thread--perhaps showing Daffy on the skids--then maybe the film wouldn't have spiraled into Looneyville. Unfortunately Daffy ends up hooking up with the hunky D.J. Drake (Brendan Fraser) a studio security guard who finds out that his famous movie star father Damian Drake (Timothy Dalton) is really a secret agent hunting for a mysterious diamond known as the Blue Monkey a supernatural gem that can turn the planet's population into monkeys. The evil head of the Acme Corporation Mr. Chairman (Steve Martin) wants the diamond for his own diabolical plans and he's kidnapped D.J.'s dad in an effort to get it. Now the gang has to get the diamond save D.J.'s dad and of course save the world.
It might be a little hard to act subtly around cartoon characters but these aren't your ordinary cutesy Mickey Mouse types. Bugs Daffy Porky Yosemite Sam and Foghorn Leghorn are pros at comic timing able to spar with the best of them throw out zingers without a second thought and slay you with a droll glance at the camera. It isn't really necessary for the human actors to match their madcap-ness; just reacting would have sufficed. Fraser comes off the best of the human bunch; since he's had practice (Monkeybone) he easily interacts with his animated co-stars and deftly handles the doubletakes and jabs at pop culture. Elfman on the other hand sputters and goes bug-eyed every time she encounters silliness. She looks uncomfortable doing the green screen thing especially when she's trying to look natural when peeling a distraught duck from around her waist. Martin's highly anticipated turn as Mr. Chairman turns out to be the biggest disappointment. The over-the-top character is reminiscent of Martin's hysterically funny Rupert the Monkeyboy in 1988's Dirty Rotten Scoundrels but Martin turns Mr. Chairman--an angry schoolboy with knee socks and matted-down hair who never grew up--into a caricature of ridiculous proportions and unlike Rupert who came in small hilarious doses Mr. Chairman gets very tiresome very quickly.
Back in Action's animation is well done more engaging and ambitious than its 1996 predecessor Space Jam in which the action mostly took place in Looney Tunes land; here animated characters go the Who Framed Roger Rabbit? route and Bugs Daffy and the rest coexist harmoniously with humans in the real world. But despite its aspirations Back in Action leaves out vital elements that made Space Jam appealing. While the earlier film stuck to a simple plot Back in Action guided by director Joe Dante (Small Soldiers The 'Burbs) tries too hard to keep things wild and wacky while incorporating elements of '60s heist pics and action-adventure scenes and in the process loses sight of the most important ingredient in any kids movie: the story. Tykes may have limited attention spans but if the story's good they will watch. Granted some individual bits are laugh-out-loud funny particularly the scene in the Warner Bros. commissary where a stuttering Porky Pig complains about being politically incorrect with Speedy Gonzales while an animated Shaggy and Scooby-Doo berate actor Matthew Lillard for playing Shaggy as such a bonehead in the live-action Scooby-Doo. These scenes prove that if any cartoon characters could pass themselves off as real celebrities in the entertainment industry the gang from Looney Tunes could but moments like these simply can't overcome a contrived plot and juvenile antics.