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.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Airplane! (1980)

Joey, Do You Like Movies About Gladiators?

Day two of my contest brings us to the comedy genre.  Yesterday’s review of the Rundown turned out to be fairly controversial, especially amongst the people who lost it.  They named numerous movies that even I would call “better” movies, but that’s not what this contest is about.  It’s about my favorite movie, whether you agree with it or not.  That being said, I feel like today’s comedy doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for argument.  Everyone that I know that has seen this movie at least likes it, and the American Film Institute (last I checked) had this movie rated as the 10th best comedy of all time.  Even though this movie is before my time, I was able to see it when I was young and I’ve loved it ever since.  My favorite comedy of all time is Airplane!, written and directed by David and Jerry Zucker, and Jim Abrahams, and starring Robert Hays, Julie Hagerty, Robert Stack, Lloyd Bridges, Leslie Nielsen, Peter Graves, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Frank Ashmore, Lorna Patterson, Stephen Stucker, Jonathan Banks, Barbara Billingsley, and Otto.

Ted Striker (Robert Hays) rushes to the airport to try to patch things up with his girlfriend Elaine Dickinson (Julie Hagerty) who has left him because his residual trauma from being in a war has led to him being unable to hold a job or show any ambition.  Elaine is a stewardess and has to leave before reconciliation can be reached, so Ted gets a smoking ticket for the flight to try to get another chance to talk to her.  On the flight, all of the passengers and crew members that had fish for dinner fall ill, including the pilot Captain Oveur (Peter Graves), the copilot Roger Murdock (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), and the navigator Victor Basta (Frank Ashmore).  With the plane being controlled only by the autopilot (Otto), Dr. Barry Rumack (Leslie Nielsen) works with Elaine and Randy (Lorna Patterson) to try to find someone on the flight with any experience flying.  It turns out Ted is the only one, but can he overcome his drinking problem and post-traumatic stress disorder to safely land the plane?

I love the tits right off of this movie.  This is the finest example of a comedy movie I was able to think of.  It is literally overflowing with jokes.  The story of the movie is fine enough, but it’s really just a placeholder to keep people’s attention.  And you have to pay attention because the jokes are everywhere and not all of them are going to be pointed out to you.  Sometimes you’ll have to be looking at the background to see small jokes, like spank magazines as a section on a magazine rack.  I can’t say that I really laugh while watching this movie anymore, but that’s mainly just because I can probably say each joke before they get to them after how many times I’ve seen this.  I still laughed when the little girl said that she takes her coffee black, like she takes her men.  It also cracked me up when Oveur was saying a string of things that bordered on inappropriate to young Joey in the cockpit.  And having all of the passengers on the plane lining up to beat the piss out of a lady is still funny to me.  So basically, I like it when women and children are abused and/or traumatized.  That’s hilarious to me.

The story is secondary to my enjoyment of this movie.  It’s mainly the jokes.  To talk about the jokes and how effective they are, I decided to break them into a few categories.  The first is my favorite: the wordplay.  They constantly take common sayings and take them literally to comedic effect.  Some of the best ones include when the lady was asking Ted if he was nervous because it was his first time on a plane and he responded with, “No, I’ve been nervous lots of times,” when anyone says, “What is it?” and they misinterpret it by describing what a cockpit is, and Ted’s “drinking problem” is that he misses his mouth.  The most famous wordplay joke is one that I still quote to this day: the “don’t call me Shirley” joke.  This is probably one of the most quotable movies as well, so I hope that more people watch it so that they can start quoting this instead of quoting the far inferior comedies that I hear people constantly quote.  Some of the jokes are straight up racist, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t think they’re funny.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  These are things like the two black guys that only speak in “jive”, the fact that the Molumbos are instantly good at basketball, and the Air Israel plane looking like a Hasidic Jew.  There are a couple of jokes that are a little easy, like the old lady that describes how pretty Elaine is by getting a little too descriptive about her body and the old white lady that speaks fluent jive, but they are still solid.  I also think there’s a pretty good amount of jokes in this movie that may be lost on a younger audience.  There are some that even I don’t get and may have to wait until a future, more educated with random trivia-infused viewing.  The Saturday Night Fever scene is probably lost on young folks, and even I don’t really know who Ethel Merman is.  The whole “Jim never has a second cup of coffee at home” joke is based on a commercial that I’ve never seen, but I at least know about it.  I could equate it to the other classic “ancient Chinese secret” commercial.  Also, I wouldn’t be too shocked if younger people don’t know who Gerald Ford is, but that’s less youth and more stupidity.  I would certainly hope that everyone would get the Jaws parody that opens the movie, but since I saw Jaws late in life, I couldn’t blame them.

The performances in this movie are what really sell it.  Obviously, as this movie is a comedy, the jokes are what is really important, but the fact that all of the actors play almost every moment completely seriously sells the jokes that much more.  They play it like they’re in a serious drama – or at least a bad soap opera – the entire time, which makes the ridiculous things that are going on around them – or even coming out of their mouths – that much sweeter.  Almost everyone works for me in this movie, but most of them don’t work in a way that caused me to have a comment about them.  I really liked Lloyd Bridges in this movie, especially the parts about his steadily increasing drug problem that he picked a bad time to quit.  My favorite character was strangely one that had absolutely nothing to do with the plot of the movie: Stephen Stucker as Johnny.  He was in the background of almost every scene in the tower and would only participate to run in and say some crazy non sequitur and run off.  And Leon is getting LAAAAARGER!  I love that fuckin’ guy.  Julie Hagerty didn’t do very much that was funny, but her quiet, meek little voice made some things extra funny, like when Leslie Nielsen asked her if she could handle some bad news and she meekly responded, “No,” before he started to tell her the bad news.  And, speaking of Leslie Nielsen, he’s amazing in this and almost everything and I fucking miss that guy.  RIP Leslie Nielsen.  The only negative part of this movie is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.  He was definitely not interested in participating in this movie, but they had some jokes to make that required him to be Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, so they had to just deal with it.

Even though it’s getting on in years, Airplane! is still my favorite comedy.  The story is fine, but what really sells it is how densely packed the movie is with comedy, and how the performances perform it like a drama.  I can’t imagine anyone not liking this movie, but I can imagine not wanting to hang out with someone who didn’t.  I definitely recommend this movie.  Airplane! gets “Oh, it’s a big pretty white plane with red stripes, curtains in the windows and wheels and it looks like a big Tylenol” out of “Flying a plane is no different than riding a bicycle, just a lot harder to put baseball cards in the spokes.”

Congratulations goes to Chris who not only managed to guess this movie, but managed to guess it without naming every other movie in the genre first.

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.