Men in Black 2 Review
By Shawn McKenzie 07/05/2002
There comes a time occasionally when a popcorn movie critic like me actually is let down by a movie that was expected to be just a fun movie-going experience. That is what it was like for me with Men in Black 2.
I was really expecting this sequel to one of my all-time favorite science fiction comedies to be at least as good as the original. There was a similarity, just not a good one. More like a smeared carbon copy.
In Men in Black 2, we pick up five years after the original movie’s end. Agent J (Will Smith) is keeping track of the Earth’s aliens with his latest partner, Agent T (Patrick Warburton.) Their assignment in the opening scene goes badly, and J deneuralizes T (if you have seen the original, you know what I mean.) We come to find out that he was the latest in a long line of partners he couldn’t work with (including apparently Linda Fiorentino’s character, Agent L, from the first movie.) In the meantime, a new bad guy (or girl in this case) alien named Serleena comes to Earth and takes the form of a lingerie model (Lara Flynn Boyle.) She is on some mission to get a light (I could never really figure out what she was after and what it was supposed to do.) Her contact on Earth is a two-headed alien named Scard/Charlie (the very annoying Johnny Knoxville.) He didn’t play much of a role except to be her flunky and be ugly and silly. Serleena kills another alien who had been posing as the owner of a pizza place in front of one of his employees, Rita (Rosario Dawson.) When the Men in Black come to investigate, J falls for Rita and decides not to deneuralize her after he interrogates her. The love story subplot really actually goes nowhere, and if her character hadn’t been as important to the end of the movie’s plot as it was, there really would have been no reason to have her in it. Anyway…the key to fighting Serleena (or at least figure out what she was doing there) lied in bringing back veteran Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones.) His memory contained the information they needed, but as you may remember, it was deneuralized in the first movie. J and his temporary new partner, Frank the Pug (voiced by Tim Blaney), go out to search for K, who now works in a post office (the scene where they find him is one of the few truly hilarious scenes, including a beat box cameo by legendary rapper Biz Markie.) They bring K back to “reneuralize” him and chaos ensues.
The main problem I had with Men in Black 2 was that everything that was funny in the first movie is exaggerated in this one. The goofy short scene with Frank the Pug from the first movie is annoying in this one. When Frank starts singing “I Will Survive” and “Who Let the Dogs Out,” I started to cringe. The coffee worm guys are another small joke from the first movie that is stretched out in part two (but unlike Frank, the worm guys are funny.) Tony Shalhoub’s small role of Jeebs from the first movie is lengthened here too.
There was one original character (or characters in this case.) A colony of locker aliens who worshipped the Men in Black like Gods and used a video rental card as scripture were side-splitting! This proved that if they had just come up with all new aliens to play cameos and left the old cameo aliens from the first movie alone, Men in Black 2 would have been a funnier movie.
Speaking of cameos, I have to say that the much talked about cameo of Michael Jackson as an insider agent of the MiB probably would have been funnier if I didn’t know it was coming. Sometimes it is a bad thing to know spoilers!
If you liked the first Men in Black, you might like this one, but only if you really like seeing the same sight gags. Smith is great as usual, but Jones just looks tired (when he wasn’t barking orders out like his character of Deputy Marshal Samuel Gerard from The Fugitive.) Men in Black 2 is an occasionally funny retread of the original, but if you did see the original, get prepared for summer reruns.
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