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Men in Black II (2002)

The Last Suit You’ll Ever Wear … Again.

Still leading up to my review of the newest addition to the Men in Black movie, we come to the second movie in the series.  After the popularity gained by the first movie, it seemed obvious that they would follow it up.  But there’s always a bit of trepidation going into a follow up movie because they are usually rushed and/or forced which has a negative effect on the quality of the product.  I really have no predisposition towards the answer on this one because I have barely any memory of the movie.  I remember thinking the first movie was very fun, but I have no memory of the second.  So let’s find out how it went in my review of Men in Black 2, written by Robert Gordon and Barry Fanaro, directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, and starring Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Lara Flynn Boyle, Rosario Dawson, Johnny Knoxville, Rip Torn, Tim Blaney, Tony Shalhoub, Patrick Warburton, Jack Kehler, David Cross, Colombe Jacobsen, John Alexander, Peter Graves, Biz Markie, Nick Cannon, Jay Johnston, Martha Stewart, and Michael Jackson.

After the events of the first movie, Men in Black agent J (Will Smith) has become the top agent for the secret government organization.  A challenge arrives for him in the shape of a shapeshifting Kylothian queen named Serleena, who disguises herself as a lingerie model (Lara Flynn Boyle).  She recruits a stupid, two-headed alien duo Scrad and Charlie (Johnny Knoxville) and sets about her task of finding the ”Light of Zartha”.  When J finds out about it, the chief of the Men in Black, Zed (Rip Torn), says that the only person that might know about what happened to the Light is J’s former partner, Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones), who had his memory erased by the neuralyzer at the end of the last movie.  J must find K and get his memory back so they can find the Light of Zartha before Serleena does.

I don’t think this movie was nearly as bad as many people did, but the movie does hurt my feelings a little.  At the end of the first movie, it was a sad and poignant moment when J had to neuralyze K so that he could go back to his old life.  This movie just shits right on that by going exactly backwards from it.  It’s preferable to the alternative of leaving K out of the movie because K was a great character, but it does deflate that moment from the first movie significantly.  The mystery in this movie is a little better done, as it becomes a treasure search once K has been brought back into the picture.  They follow clues to finally reach their destination and it’s an interesting new way to go about the story of their movie.  There were some good jokes in this one, but I felt like they really took it easy in some places.  Most of the jokes they went through in the middle of the movie were just the reverse of the same jokes they made in the first one.  Things like giving the “Noisy Cricket” to K, and even using some of the same exact lines, but his time it was J saying them to K.  The look of the movie has not changed drastically for this movie.  It’s still really good and really creative.  I would say the only thing that I would count as an improvement in this movie is the song that Will Smith made for it.  Nod Ya Head is a much better song than Men in Black, and I don’t care who knows that I think this.

The returning performances for this movie were of the same quality, but I would say the new additions do nothing to help the film.  Will Smith is mostly just as charming and funny as he was in the first movie, but he came off as a bit of a dick for the first part of the movie when he was too preoccupied being the best MiB agent.  I like him better as the fish out of water, but he gets back to that.  Tommy Lee Jones is pretty much unchanged in this movie.  He’s still a great compliment to Will Smith.  Lara Flynn Boyle didn’t work for me though.  She was great to look at, especially when she was in her underwear, but she was not at all intimidating as the main bad guy in the movie, and she was barely convincing to boot.  Johnny Knoxville played the role as classic comic relief, but was completely hit or miss.  Rosario Dawson was great in the movie, however.  Not only am I always happy to look at her, but she’s got this great charm to her that makes you instantly like her and seemed like she would be a great compliment to Will Smith.

Altogether, Men in Black 2 makes no drastic steps forward, but does make a few steps backwards, though not enough backwards to make the movie a bad movie.  It’s just inferior to the original.  It’s still pretty funny, but some of the jokes are easy, it’s still got a good story with a little more mystery to it, and the performances that return to the movie still bring it, though Rosario Dawson is the only new performance that’s any good.  But Men in Black 2 still manages to become a fun watch, so I’d still recommend it.  I own both, and it probably wouldn’t hurt for you to own it as well.  Men in Black 2 gets “I’ve dated worse” out of “Your brain needs to reboot.”

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