Review

Men in Black II Review

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Jul 03, 2002 | 5:39am EDT

Get ready for some more alien fun. When we last saw Agent Jay (Will Smith) he was a greenhorn in the ways of the Men in Black organization--the highly funded yet unofficial government agency that polices all things alien on Earth. His mentor and partner Agent Kay (Tommy Lee Jones) decided to call it quits and had his memory "neurolized" so he wouldn't remember any of the fun alien adventures he had. Now five years later Jay is on top of his game. He's the king bee at MIB but he can't seem to find a partner as worthy as Kay. That's about to change. When a particularly nasty Kylothian monster named Serleena (Lara Flynn Boyle) lands on Earth takes over MIB headquarters and generally causes a major ruckus (all in the body of a lingerie model) only one man has the power to stop her--Kay. Time to get the old man out of retirement. With the help of a beautiful young woman Rita (Rosario Dawson) who becomes an innocent eyewitness involved with MIB's operation as well as Jay's love interest Kay's memory is restored and he reteams with his partner to kick some alien booty.

It's all about chemistry folks. When it works between two actors it makes all the difference in the world. Smith and Jones fit like an old glove in this sequel and you can tell right away the two of them had a lot of fun revisiting their alter-agents. But it seems Smith has taken his character further than Jones. Jay is no longer the novice but rather the all-knowing professional and Smith plays it right even showing how the character is beginning to feel the isolation the job entails. Still he hasn't totally become the cold and impersonal agent like his former partner--he still likes to paint a rosy picture for the everyday folks he has to neurolize. Jones' Kay has a few more lines in his face but doesn't offer much more than the hardened persona we saw before either as a civilian postal worker scolding his patrons on how to properly wrapped a package or as a super-agent blowing the head off of an alien (knowing it will grow back). Boyle has a blast playing the sexy villain but who wouldn't have fun walking around in black leather and chomping up the neighborhood? As well Dawson takes the ingenue role and gives it something extra. It is also nice to see some familiar faces particularly Tony Shalhoub as the alien jewelry owner Jeebs and David Cross as Newton the hapless morgue worker from the original now a video store owner.

Men in Black II does not surpass the original. It's hard to pinpoint exactly what is missing from the sequel that the original had. It could just be that the first Men in Black was fresh and new. Still director Barry Sonnenfeld inherently understands he can't reinvent the wheel. The slick sequel offers plenty to make it worth seeing and it certainly adds to the elements that made the original so much fun. This time around it's got more laughs and less gooey mess. Returning characters such as Frank the talking Pug (who houses a wisecracking alien) and those lovable "worm guys " who have now gotten kicked out of MIB headquarters for trying to rob the Duty Free shop have more screen time in the sequel and they milk it stealing every scene they are in. Hearing the dog sing Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive" while sticking his head out of the window of Jay's car is priceless. The film even gets to poke fun at those celebrities we all suspect might be aliens (we won't give it away). The gadgets and cool effects are plentiful as well but the film really relies on the humor more than anything else--thank goodness.

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