Men in Black II (DVD, 2009, 2-Disc Set, Canadian Special Edition Widescreen DVD Keepcase French)

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Men in Black II - Same Movie, Less Funny

Jul 3, 2002 (Updated Jul 5, 2002)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Smith and Jones deliver what they can with this 88 minute fluff

Cons:The novelty has worn off

The Bottom Line: MiB2 has nothing new, and lacks the novelty of the first film. You may be entertained, but just barely.


In 1997, Men in Black hit the box office with a sucker punch, unexpectedly taking in over $80 million over Fourth of July weekend on its way to a $300+ million domestic gross. Its stars, Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, were well-cast, its special effects were eye-catching and original, and the plot – well, who cared about the plot, it did have a great tagline – “Protecting the earth from the scum of the universe.”

Five years later, MiB2 is a roundhouse telegraphed a mile away. This sequel was made for one reason and one reason only: money. Some sequels try to go in a new direction, which is certainly a riskier proposition. The payoff comes in a familiar, but still original movie. Sticking (very) loosely with the genre of sci-fi, Aliens did a superior job as a sequel, keeping the villain from the first movie but transforming the film from a terrifying horror movie into an action movie. MiB2, on the other hand, is strictly plowing the same ground twice in the hopes of another bumper crop of box office receipts.

The plot this time around: evil aliens are trying to destroy Earth, and the MiB agents must stop them with the help of some friendly aliens. Nothing new there. The twist from the first movie is that the roles of Agent K (Jones) and Agent J (Smith) are reversed. As we know from the first movie, K’s memory was wiped out by the neuralyzer. Thus, for the first part of the movie, J is the veteran agent, and K is bewildered by the fact that aliens are present on earth. Soon enough, though, K gets his memory back, and it’s the first movie all over again.

That last part bears repeating – it’s the first movie all over again. But sadly, that’s not a good thing. MiB had an original premise with original gags and jokes – such as the famous people on earth who are actually aliens - “Elvis isn’t dead – he just went home.” That joke this time around doesn’t play as well – although Michael Jackson’s cameo is funny for the fact that Wacko Jacko wanted billing on the movie poster for five seconds of screen time. Many of the gags just feel like leftovers from the first movie that didn’t make it because they weren’t funny enough, and because we’ve seen it all before, the novelty has worn off.

The novelty has also worn off for the special effects, with the exception of the unbelievable work they did with Lara Flynn Boyle. Boyle plays the main alien baddy, who disguises herself as a Victoria’s Secret model. Of course, a Victoria’s Secret model needs cleavage, and somehow, special effects guru Rick Baker managed to give Boyle, who does not have an ounce of fat on her anorexic body, a measurable bust line. Amazing – the man should win the Oscar for that alone.

From a cynical perspective, MiB2 represents everything wrong with Hollywood – big budget production aimed merely at making truckloads of cash with no concern whatsoever with making an impression on its audience lasting longer than the obligatory pitstop at the bathroom after the movie. Of course, you may not need to stop at the bathroom on your way out, as the movie checks in at a mere 88 minutes. From a summer movie perspective, MiB2 should clear $75 million this week, entertain the faceless masses, and delight kids everywhere. That’s not the worst thing in the world – I’ll save that criticism for Halloween: Resurrection.


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