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.
This is it, Cheesy Blasterz. Get ready to grab your pal Meat Cat and ride away on your flying skateboard to the land of never-ending 30 Rock reruns (also known as Netflix), because after the Season 6 finale airs May 17, we'll only have 13 new episodes of Liz Lemon left in our lives. And seeing as our heroine (we mean lady hero; we don't want to inject her and listen to jazz) is embarking on her farewell tour in a few short months, what better time than now to explore her developmental journey forward (then backward, then forward again) using the model developed by the Bard himself? Shakespeare had the Seven Ages of Man, but Shakespeare didn't understand the glory of putting a donut in the microwave or putting chips on a sandwich, so good ol' LL gets her own version. We present: The Seven Ages of Liz Lemon.
Baby Liz: In the beginning, little Liz Lemon was happily running her flailing variety series The Girlie Show as she imagined she always would when she was awkward comic in Chicago. But when she meets the Ice Dragon himself, Mr. Jack Donaghy, she gets a rude awakening. Like a newborn baby who's just crying and pouting out of sheer helplessness, Liz wanders hilariously through that first awkward stage of life. (You know, the one in which microwave executives take over your life and make you hire Tracy Jordan, who you may or may not have to chase down at a Harlem strip club while wearing a pink Jackie Onassis suit. Typical baby stuff.) It’s also the time in her life when she may or may not be dating Dennis Duffy, beeper salesman in a post-Blackberry world. It's a cry for help that practically screams: I cannot take care of myself.
Lover Liz: After she realizes Dennis is the worst, dummy, Liz pursues a more handsome, more employed man: Floyd. She starts dressing better, avoiding her usual muppet walk, and she even considers escaping to the Cleve. Of course, with that upward swoop comes her crushing eating-ham-in-a-wedding-dress-for-no-one emotional turmoil. Just like Shakespeare's "lover," Lemon falls hard and crashes and burns even harder. Blerg!
Remedial Liz: What's a sitcom heroine without a hilarious backslide? Remedial Liz starts hallucinating about meeting Oprah on a plane; she brings her crazy ex-roommate Jennifer Aniston out of the woodwork and into Jack's unsuspecting lap; and she exploits a woman with a head injury in order to try to adopt a child. (Insert evil laugh with prerequisite corn stuck in teeth here.) And here we thought she was getting so much better when she built that Blerg table and propped it up with her ham dress. Of course, it's not all bad: Bonus points for her backslide including a brief relationship with a dumb-as-a-rock hot doctor played by Jon Hamm. Blammo, suckers!
Boring Safe Security-Conscious Liz: In the wake of traumatic experiences like thinking she might have been pregnant with Dennis Duffy’s baby, her “weird underwear’s” affair with the new guy on TGS (Cheyenne Jackson), and a one-night stand with James Franco and his sex pillow, Liz needs to get real. Naturally, she meets someone while high on anesthesia at the dentist's office and declares him her future husband, even though in real life she can’t stand him and he says things like “Gangway for footcycle.” Still, Wesley Snipes is technically a man, and Security-Conscious Liz needs a man... any straight, non-juggling, velvet-slipper-wearing (shudder) man.
Emotionally Stunted Liz: Despite meeting her perfect match in Carol, the Delta pilot, Liz has trouble with the intimacy part. (See: The laughter- and tear-inducing scene in which she comforts him with “Don’t be cry.”) With one fake, elicit affair with Paul Giamatti as the NBC video editor and a plane-bound screaming match of a breakup that would give any TSA worker hives, Liz delves into a series of Lemony, hilarious stunts that have little to do with anything other than sending us into lizzing fits (laughing and wizzing for the non-Lemonites). It was a strange, distant time during which we were served platter upon platter of senseless Lemonisms. Top prize goes to Liz pretending to be infused with the spirit of Gaya and lathering her distended belly with baby oil in her fake pregancy photo shoot; it remains one of the best moments in the history of the series.
Middle-Aged (Finally) Liz: In Season 6, Liz actually found a happy relationship. And this one might stick. After all, he lives in her apartment. Let’s also not forget he Soloed her, which is grounds for marriage. (Just ask any nerd.) Her biggest hurdle has been getting Office Dad’s approval and now that’s Jack’s on board with her beau, Criss practically has her hand in marriage. Plus, they’ve agreed to raise a plant together. This is huge. Liz Lemon is happy, and comfortable, and she doesn't have food stains all over her clothes. Plus, she actually likes bedroom time (though we can assume the word "lovers" still bums her out) as long as it involved Criss referring to her as "Khaleesi." She finally learned how to express emotions using her words (even if she has to wear Hulk hands to do so). It happened: Liz Lemon is finally an adult.
Sunset Liz: Season 7 hasn’t aired, but the final season is no time to throw any of the Dennis-shaped wrenches at Liz’s personal life like we’ve see in seasons past. Unless Floyd is back with a divorce and perhaps a lobotomy (and maybe some sort of memory eraser for Liz), it’s time for Lemon to settle down with Criss, their plant, a lifetime of sexy evenings in bed with new episodes of Dance Moms, and only the occasional trip down Sabor De Soledad lane.
What's your favorite Age of Lemon? What will you miss most about 30 Rock when it's gone?
Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler.
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The former Desperate Housewives star had just filmed another new TV show in Texas when he was approached to join the original castmembers of the 1980s soap, Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray, for an updated version of the drama.
But Metcalfe was "critical of the idea" and wasn't convinced a modern-day Dallas would be a hit - until he gave the script a proper read through.
He tells PR.com, "Ironically, I was shooting another series in Dallas that was called Chase, on NBC. We actually didn’t get a full season. We did 18 episodes and I got a call asking if I wanted to put myself on tape for the new Dallas.
"Initially, I was reticent. I was definitely critical of the idea. There’s been such a huge wave of remakes over the last five to 10 years, most of which had failed. I wasn’t looking to come off of one show that was being cancelled and do a pilot that I thought had a great chance of being cancelled.
"But after I read the script and saw the strength of the writing, and how well developed and complex these characters were, I was interested."
Metcalfe actually auditioned to play John Ross Ewing, the part that eventually went to Josh Henderson - but he insists he's happier portraying Christopher Ewing, the son of Duffy's iconic character Bobby.
He says, "I had done an audition for John Ross and there was some interest there, and we were going to negotiate a test deal. But they decided to test Josh Henderson and they held on to him for the role. I think that’s just great casting and perfect. When they came back to me for Christopher, I was thrilled because I really identified with that character even more."
The film follows the same tired action genre step by step. Ex-con and single dad O2 (Tyrese Gibson) is trying to go straight for the sake of his young son Junior. But when the kid is kidnapped in what seems to be a typical carjacking O2 has to pull out all the stops to get him back. Turns out O2 had some nefarious dealings with a gang overlord named Big Meat (The Game) who likes to hack off people’s body parts with a machete. And now Meat wants some payback taking for ransom the only thing O2 cares about in the entire world [sniffle]. So what’s a guy to do? Pit rival gang leaders against each other hook up with a beautiful street hustler (Meagan Good) rob safety deposit boxes and get caught in an extended car chase that’s what. "It's either all or nothing " realizes O2. Very prophetic. Waist Deep has got some great character names--Meat O2 Coco Lucky Junior. Too bad most of the performances can’t live up to them. Tyrese (Four Brothers) does try his best though as the hunky O2 making a convincing albeit a tad stiff attempt at playing a father who’s whole life is his son. Good (Roll Bounce) gets to wear tight sexy clothes and strut around as Coco O2’s accomplice and eventual love interest as they rob banks Bonnie and Clyde style. Larenz Tate (Crash) plays Lucky O2’s unreliable cousin who actually isn’t lucky at all caught between a rock and hard place. And then there’s Meat played by big-time rapper The Game in his feature debut. With a battered face and covered in tattoos The Game certainly looks like one mean badass wielding a mad machete. Thankfully he doesn’t have to do much more than that. Here’s a few words of advice to would-be actors who want to play effective bad guys: Less is more. It’s movies like these that really give South Central L.A. a bad rep—shoot-outs in the middle of the street in broad daylight the carjacks the depravity the sad stories of little kids getting shot. It’s not exactly a warm and fuzzy place. Of course actor-turned-director/co-writer Vondie Curtis-Hall (best known for his numerous TV guest spots) doesn’t want it to be showing the grit in all its glory and collecting a cast from the area who could lend some credibility to the surroundings. But Hall needs a few more lessons in how to craft a well-thought action movie. The script is hackneyed beyond the usual taking bits not only from Bonnie and Clyde but also Thelma and Louise Boyz N the Hood--and even a little Shawshank Redemption. Hall’s camerawork is also too frenetic at times almost dizzyingly so with unnecessary close ups and choppy sequences. That isn’t to say some of the gun play and car chases aren’t exciting enough. There just seems to be a lack of experience overall.