ďSecond verse, same as the first, a little bit louder and
a little bit worse!Ē
We all know the old rallying cry to keep singing some idiotic
song at camp, and we all know what it means. (Apologies to
those of you from cultures where you were not exposed to the
best America has to offer.) Itís dumb, but there is wisdom
in it. You see, the second time around, to keep it interesting,
you have to do it differently than the first time, be it louder,
more obnoxious, or completely incomprehensible. Would that
Mr. Sonnenfeld had taken these words more to heart,
because Men In Black 2, or MIIB if you like
the hipper-looking initials, sings the same old song in the
same old way.
Admittedly, the first verse was a lot of fun. Cool idea,
great worldview, nifty gadgets, and a terrific team, K (Mr.
Jones) and J (Mr. Smith). Jís buffoonery and Kís
quiet competence took us on a terrific roller-coaster ride
that suddenly petered out at the end. Now, five years later,
the roles have reversed: J is the badass, and K has to try
to recover from being a postal clerk for five years. Potential
for good wacky comedy and even a little character development,
right? Except the roles havenít really reversed, and all of
the great build-up once again goes in the toilet. And thatís
the crux of the problem: fun setup, weak payoff. Pissing away
Mr. Warburtonís comic talents to demonstrate
characteristics J abandons as soon as theyíre established
only makes it hurt more.
So, you ask, why the hell did you give it three stars when
all you can do is bitch? Well, Frank the talking Pug (Blaney,
voice) was fairly hilarious, for one. I cowered in fear when
I found out the talking dog was a major part, but Sonnenfeld
showed restraint, and I found myself wanting more, not less,
of Frank by the end. And David Cross, of ďMr. ShowĒ
fame, has a gem of a small role, played as only he can. Watch
for it. Enjoy. Thatís what this movie has: a lot of great
small scenes that donít add up to an emotional arc.
For some reason, this comedy only added up to 83 minutes,
a full 15 minutes shorter than the original. I have to assume
that a hell of a lot of material was cut to improve the flow
and timing of the film, and I wonder what other scenes didnít
make it into the picture that will be little treasures resurrected
in the ďextrasĒ section of the DVD. Then again, it didnít
feel short, so that speaks for itself.
Címon, letís face it. They canít all be Minority Report,
a much better science fiction film, or Scooby Doo,
a more consistent (if dumber) comedy. And thatís where it
sits. Do you want to have some good laughs to while away those
steamy (or in some parts of the United States, wildfire-dominated)
summer afternoons? MIIB wonít make you work for it,
wonít make you think about it, and wonít make you feel too
bad about spending a few bucks.
To you New Yorkers and other urban folks who never get matinee
prices, a DVD and a really big TV could go a long way with
this one, but if you donít have the huge TV set, shell out
and enjoy the special effects on the silver screenóthey wonít
translate well to the small.