Alexandra Dupont wraps her beautiful brain around MEN IN BLACK 2
Hey folks, Harry here... For some reason all my interest in seeing this film has drifted away. I just watched these clips from MIB II and suddenly, I have no interest anymore. I have a chance to see it for free in an hour and 12 minutes and I just don't want to see it. I'm trying to want to go see it, but I think I'd rather watch my DVD of Cronenberg's THE FLY right now... I'm sort of in that type of mood. I hope you folks forgive me, but a vapor thin light comedy isn't what I'm in the mood for right now... Maybe I'll see it later on, but... I'm more in the mood to see a REIGN OF FIRE or ROAD TO PERDITION type of thing. Here's Alexandra, and I know Moriarty are going to let you know his thought on it. Here ya go... Oh and ya got to ask Mori, what he thought of the brilliant new Halloween movie...
The Unusually Terse Alexandra DuPont Movie Review FAQ (in Response to Numerous Talk Back Complaints About Said Reviewer's Needless Tangle of Appositive Phrases, Em Dashes and Parenthetical Remarks)
Men in Black II. Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, from a screenplay by Robert Gordon and Barry Fanaro. Starring, once again, Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones and skillfully executed, jokey creature designs by Rick Baker et al. Opens July 3.
The author's opinion of the original Men in Black:
By no means is MIB 1 high art, but even the most bile-encrusted Talk Backer might agree that it was a tight, funny, carefully constructed light entertainment albeit one free of any subtext whatsoever. Like director Sonnenfeld's best work, it was a divertissement filled with wry (and often symmetrical) frame compositions and deadpan, ersatz-black comedic stylings. Cemented Will Smith's stardom. Wrangled Tommy Lee Jones' brilliant-but-mean-Neanderthal tendencies with extraordinary efficiency.
The author's opinion of the new Men in Black sequel:
Some inspired moments, but lacking essential narrative/comedic/Thespic/visual tightness that made the first MIB such a winner. Feels like the second episode in a "Men in Black" TV series, or perhaps Ghostbusters II. Falls apart mildly at the end. Was amused, but can barely remember plot already.
Am grieviously sorry to report this information. Have been a booster of Sonnenfeld's work for years even when he's dropped the ball in such studio-inflated dreck as Wild Wild West; have considered BS an honest and mean-spirited and highly quotable personality, and consider his failed TV ventures ("Maximum Bob," "Fantasy Island" with Malcolm McDowell, live-action "The Tick") to be intelligent excursions, even when they didn't quite hang together.
Evil alien Serleena (Lara Flynn Boyle, essentially playing herself, only with tentacles) comes to Earth seeking "The Light." She takes over MIB headquarters and enlists multiple alien thugs to join her hunt. Meanwhile, Will Smith now a burned-out, lonely MIB vet drags Tommy Lee Jones out of his amnesiac retirement (at an out-of-the-way post office) and tries to jog his memory. Jones, it turns out, is the only MIB agent who actually knew where "The Light" was hidden; however, he "neuralyzed" the location out of his brain, but left himself clues to find it in his coat and in pizza places and also in train-station lockers filled with tiny alien civilizations. (Which leads one to ask: Why did Jones bother deleting it from his memory in the first place if he was going to tell himself how to find it anyway via scavenger hunt? Ah because it fleshes out the story.)
Also: Romantic interest played by Rosario Dawson, the only good thing about Josie and the Pussycats. Also also: Talking dog from first movie has big, perhaps too big, digitally impressive supporting role here that garnered many of new film's cheapest laughs.
What's good in MIB II:
(1) The multiple scale-based jokes. Things that seem big such as world-annihilating spaceships or large aliens are often not what they seem. Special praise to a throwaway joke involving Tommy Lee Jones sticking his finger in a mysterious sphere at MIB headquarters.
(2) Along those lines: By far the movie's best bit is one involving that tiny alien civilization living in a Grand Central Station terminal locker. They sing hymns to Tommy Lee Jones and consider the wristwatch he left behind to be a holy beacon, or something like that.
(3) Will Smith. I'm sorry, but TV's "Fresh Prince" has talent and star power to burn, even if he's not running on all burners here. His impatient eye-shifts as he tries to re-educate Jones are among the film's smartest bits of humor.
(4) There are many more aliens. They come in all shapes and sizes and are neat to look at especially Jones' post-office coworkers. Kudos to Baker et al, again.
(5) David Cross as one of those alterna-video store clerks. While his scene is a bit "off," detailed below, watch for the shovel.
What's not so good in MIB II:
(1) The story fails to compel or make much sense. "The Light" can destroy the Earth, we're told, but when we see what "The Light" actually is, if memory serves, all the warnings about "The Light" suddenly seem nonsensical in retrospect. You'll see what I mean.
(2) On a related note, that above-described of lack of "tightness" pervades the film throughout. Jones and Smith's interplay simply fails to crackle in the same way it did in MIB 1 and it's almost entirely a failure of (a) the writing, in which scenes sort of dribble off without punchlines, and (b) Tommy Lee Jones seeming sort of tired throughout the film. Also, the visual compositions don't stick to the back of your eye the way the last film's did.
(3) Certain jokes are milked one or two too many times. I'm thinking of the old black guy sitting in the MIB headquarters entryway, reading his paper and making some deadpan remark. I'm thinking of the talking dog. I'm thinking of the little aliens in the locker. I'm thinking of "the worm guys." I'm thinking of a (purposely) badly staged television re-enactment of the film's central flashback hosted by Peter Graves.
(4) Patrick Warburton is a big funny man. He's kind of wasted here in his brief bit as an agent trainee.
(5) While David Cross grabbing a shovel is funny, the movie's attempted satirization of alterna-video store culture is well and thoroughly off the mark. Trash-film snobs of Cross's character's ilk are blue-collar hipsters who "ironically" drink Pabst Blue Ribbon, wear T-shirts emblazoned "ironically" with Hanna-Barbera characters and other cheese-culture logos, and sneer at their "lessers" out of a combination of misplaced entitlement and fear of failure. In MIB II, however Cross's trash-film snob character is instead the clichéd "geek who lives in his mommy's attic." A wasted opportunity for real satire, if you ask me.
Summary of findings:
Audience at test-screening laughed quite a bit at the start, generously wanting to be entertained. That enthusiasm trailed off toward the end; screening ending with only light smattering of applause. My perception was that of a collective shrug and a collective resolution to take the kids to Hardee's afterward and never speak or think of the film again. Everyone in America will see this movie exactly once.
Awaken, Sonnenfeld! Awaken! You have been middling- to quite-good in the past!
Aiming not to provoke, but to inspire,
Readers Talkbackcomments powered by Disqus
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July 3, 2002, 12:56 a.m. CST
I don't expect much from this movie. Probably a good idea if this review represents the critical consensus (and as far as I can tell it pretty much does.) One more thing - love your reviews, ma'am. You and Moriarty make the film review part of this site worthwhile, as far as I'm concerned. Oh, and I'm only going to say this once, ever, but ... first.
July 3, 2002, 12:57 a.m. CST
July 3, 2002, 1:10 a.m. CST
by Almost Sexy
Only three "r's" in "grrr." Don't feel bad. Alexandra Dupont: You are a good reviewer.
July 3, 2002, 1:25 a.m. CST
You forgot the alien pretending to be Michael Jackson. Has anyone seen the picture of him, that`s one fucked up face!
July 3, 2002, 1:25 a.m. CST
But the new Halloween movie is supposed to be "brilliant?" Forgive me for being presumptious, but... oh, who cares. Didn't you like Jason X and Blade 2? Harry has a love of certain crappy movies. We all do. Harry, all is forgiven. BTW, some of my favorite crappy flicks are Flash Gordon, TerrorVision, A Night at the Roxbury, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, UHF, My Science Project, Clash of the Titans, Young Guns II, and The Adventures of Ford Fairlane. So I have just as shitty taste as any clown who's ever posted here.
July 3, 2002, 1:39 a.m. CST
I saw the press screening last week and was actually surprised at how bad it was. Alexandra DuPont is right about one thing,... the first MIB wasn't anything spectacular but at least it left you entertained. I would say that 90 percent of the jokes in this movie fall flat, especially the scenes with Frank the Pug - his talking dog bit went on much longer than it should have. Some of the fucking Aliens were funnier than most of the intended humor in the entire movie (you guys will probably groan at the 'Ballchinian' henchman but I thought he was funny). The one thing that stands out is the ending... fuck that, the final shot! That last image had me smiling as I left the theater and almost made the experience of sitting through that turd of a movie worth the effort.
July 3, 2002, 1:55 a.m. CST
i didn't like MIB 1, did you?
July 3, 2002, 2:31 a.m. CST
...but he's not the same character here. Perfect example as to just how phoned in this whole movie was: his character here could not have possibly been the same guy, even if he somehow survived the first one and got another job. I'd explain in greater detail, but it ain't worth it. I can't recommend this movie, but I can't not recommend it, either. Was Sonnenfeld busy retooling "Big Trouble" for post Sept. 11, and was therefore not available to actually direct this random hodge podge? Just askin', cause this feels as featureless as "Sphere," which suffered (probably) because Barry Levinson was directing "Wag The Dog" at the same time. Coincidence?
July 3, 2002, 4:10 a.m. CST
I think my hippity-hoppity God-knows-what-wannabe friend is dragging me to this on Friday. Hey all, I'm glad to see it when I got the rental bug + plenty of stuff in my own collection to back up a bad call. But MIIB in the theatre, in all it's... ahem, glory. You people have successfully scared me off this with all your negative chatter. You should be ashamed of yourselves. I'm gonna go rent something fun + pretend this movie can mean something. Out.
July 3, 2002, 5:21 a.m. CST
ADP was so far off sense when she reviewed the Harry Putter dvd that I don`t give a cent for what she says. She may be right this time but I ain`t takin the risk. I`m a seein` the film at the cinema and making up my own mind...And of course hoping she`s similarly wrong about this film. Oh I want to enjoy it so much.
July 3, 2002, 5:29 a.m. CST
Not that there is anything wrong with that. But doesn't it make the character particularly biting, perhaps painfully so?
July 3, 2002, 5:34 a.m. CST
You see, I noticed the shovel when I saw the film, but I didn't get the reference - and it's driving me nuts. I figure either it's something from the first film or a misinterpreted response to what Jay said after DC gets neuralized. Someone please give me a heads-up on this one. Thanks in advance.
July 3, 2002, 6:13 a.m. CST
Although considering most movie goers will have walked out 15 minutes into this trash I guess its makes little difference and just hurries the next crowd in so they can have their money wasted quickly. P.S. Will Smith is the human equivalent of a chip of shit! Fuck him!
July 3, 2002, 6:56 a.m. CST
Young Guns 2 wasn't crappy. No need to be self-deprecating about liking it.
July 3, 2002, 7:01 a.m. CST
In the previews and "first look" segments, it seems like the villains, Lara Flynn Boyle and her two-headed jackass, are just plain dull. The talking dog is about as funny as a fart joke. In general, it seems like brevity will be this film's only real virtue, with maybe a couple good jokes we've already seen in trailers padded out by a bunch of rejected Star Trek script rubbish about "The Light of Somesuch Goddamned Place." BTW, that chick isn't the only saving grace of Josie & The Pussycats. The boy band's agent ('Du Jour,' I believe...lol) leaving them to their deaths was a good way to start the flick. Of course, it went right downhill from there.
July 3, 2002, 7:34 a.m. CST
Such a disappointment for those who expected to get something out of this inane drivel. Thankfully, this didn't include me and one has to ask how many sick children in the Third World could have been saved had the money not been spent on what is a quite clearly a waste of life.
July 3, 2002, 8:11 a.m. CST
by Atticus Finch
July 3, 2002, 8:22 a.m. CST
ms dupont knows that the purpose of a review is to educate, entertain and enlighten, all of which she does extremely well. she's right re. 'MIB2' as well- it's slight but fun, and not as good as the first one. but the fiiiine rosario dawson wasn't the only good thing in 'josie & the pussycats' - that was one cool movie, y'all.
July 3, 2002, 8:42 a.m. CST
... But then again, this is the talkback section, where future meddling film execs get their kick in calling films names and saying they won't (or do not) work. Believe me, people out there can un-self-consciously enjoy most of the films out there that you folk decide are feces thrown on the wall of culture. I'd advise you either to think about trying to make a movie yourself (even if it's only a home video) or simply read a book or do something more enjoyable with your time. People have been ragging on movies since they came out. But only a select few get this pissed off about movies, AND THEN KEEP ON COMING BACK FOR MORE. You see, this is the way it work: Most people are patient, and keep to themselves. They go a bad movie on friday night, they might talk about it to a friend if asked, but they will not necessarily volunteer to friends that it's crap. The Hollywood execs don't understand this, and merely consider the audience stupid, instead of considering the possibility that apathy is the result of most bad films. As a result, the logic behind grosses indicating public interest is somewhat flawed, because the audience may not necessarily keep you informed of your mistatkes. Many people pattern their criticism of the cinema on the critics of 1950's France, little realizing that once everything was said and done, these filmmakers went out there and actually lived up to their principles and made good films. How many of you can take any such perspective on film?
July 3, 2002, 9:05 a.m. CST
The general public only understands "geeks" (film geeks or otherwise) as people who live in their parent's attics (or basements). If the general public understood "ironic" hipsters as something worthy of parody, Ghost World would have been a number one movie. sk
July 3, 2002, 9:18 a.m. CST
....and I would care, except that I see reviews written by him at about the same rate that I see supermodels....MUCH TOO INFREQUENTLY. I don't particularly care that Harry has lost interest, because I have no real idea of what his thoughts/taste regarding current film are. Every month or so, we might see a "Minority Report" review, but for every one of those, there are a dozen "Scooby-DOo"'s that Harry spews malice at and then, seemingly, never sees. Where is the Scooby review, Harry? If you're (the inclusive thrid person "you're") going to have opinions on current film, I want concrete examples of your feelings on OTHER current film.
July 3, 2002, 9:41 a.m. CST
that is, until I saw Men in Black. actually, there are things i remember: i remember going to the theatre with my friend and picking up the ticket. i remember buying soda. i remember leaving. that's it. it was as if i never even saw the thing. i don't think i have ever experienced that with a movie, ever. even movies that suck so much you hate them leave some sort of impression, something to talk about and make fun of. the experience of watching MIB was like walking into blackhole for 90 minutes and then walking out again. maybe that brainwash thing they use is real? very odd. ask anyone you know who saw the movie. ask them what their favorite scene was. how much you wanna bet they can't remember ANYTHING about it. go ahead: check it out.
July 3, 2002, 9:56 a.m. CST
by Brooklyn Bred
what the dilly-O.
July 3, 2002, 10:21 a.m. CST
Only one with access to the insights of male geekdom would disparage David Cross' portrayal for its inaccuracies.
July 3, 2002, 10:47 a.m. CST
She was barely even one of the good things. Hello?!? Parker Posey was in that film! She's always the best thing in any film she's made. I'll go on record, I may be the only person on the planet who will admit it, but I liked the film a lot. And I'll give ya this one for free. THE SINGLE COOLEST SCENE IN THE HISTORY OF MODERN CINEMA OCCURS IN JOSIE. It's the one where Jose & her pals are crossing the street and they are framed by the agent in the car holding up a CD jewel case. Visually stunning is something of an understatement.
July 3, 2002, 10:55 a.m. CST
... I realized after this was sent off for posting that I was foolishly forgetting Alan Cumming, Parker Posey and the whole opening bit with the boy band "DuJour." All of them/that were/was quite clever. However, the movie itself I found a bit of a stinker, save the above and R. Dawson's perfect cartoon-character sneer and of course that hilarious "slumber-party" scene where Posey is a completely passive-aggressive psychopath. That is all.
July 3, 2002, 10:57 a.m. CST
.. and I actually would have gone out to see this, I think, for a big dumb romp, but the endless commercials have put me off. Now that I've seen that stupid dog sing "I Will Survive" about 16 thousand times, I find there's no need to actually watch the movie. This is a rental.
July 3, 2002, 12:05 p.m. CST
by Blok Narpin
I think that those who put down Josie and the Pussycats probobly have not actually seen it cause it's a tough film to dislike. It's very funny and very smart. It's about todays kids, and why they do the stupid things they do. FOr anyone whos ever wondered why garbage like N Sync and Britney Spears is popular this movie provides a funny answer: Subliminal brainwashing. Josie and the Pussycats has far to many funny ideas behind it to get into here. If you havn't seen the film then rent it. It's very very funny. It's from the same team that brought us Can't Hardly Wait (the best John Hughes film that John Hughes never made).
July 3, 2002, 1:08 p.m. CST
At least it's not complete trash. I think everyone knew after seeing that first trailer how this was going to be, right? I'll go see it on Friday for some cheap laughs. It'll be decent...
July 3, 2002, 1:18 p.m. CST
July 3, 2002, 2:45 p.m. CST
All you talkbackers have the absolute worst opinion on films. You bash anything that you know is going to be popular simply because it's going to be popular. You guys in large, seem to only like films that no one else knows about or has seen. Why, because I guess it makes you feel special or more scholarly or something... I don't know. What I do know is that if Hollywood was run by fools like you. The movie industry would be lost. I loathe 90% of everyone on this site. Since Harry's absolutely RETARDED review of Minority Report, I can barely stand coming here. It looks like trash, the reviews suck, (except for Moriarity) and the coverage and updates are always slow in coming and I've usually already heard about the news that is posted here a day earlier. To be honest, I must be a dumb fuck to even come here any more. I can't stand the snobby sub-culture that emenates from this site. I'm sure MIB2 will be fun and a fine movie. I know it won't be a masterpiece like... Bladerunner, but what is. I'm glad things like Scooby Doo make 60 million on it's first week. Not because I like that movie, but because it will get all you geeks all upset. Oh, and Kubrick's legacy will fade with time!
July 3, 2002, 5:08 p.m. CST
by user id indeed!
*hug* Thank you. Three disc DVD, one per precog! Huh? Huh?!
July 3, 2002, 5:59 p.m. CST
Unlike Harry, I need to have some brainless fun at the moment.
July 3, 2002, 6:21 p.m. CST
That movie was a studio executives wet dream: Music video, 90 minute running time for muitible showings and a "cross audience appeal". piece of crap.
July 3, 2002, 6:25 p.m. CST
I gotta rent that now!
July 3, 2002, 8:59 p.m. CST
The shovel -- there was, as I recall, a scene in MIB where someone gets conked in the back or possibly even front of the head with a shovel. Who can back me up on this?
July 3, 2002, 9:06 p.m. CST
To rev skarekroe: GHOST WORLD did it self in on two counts. Birch slept with Buscemi, which was like watching someone vomit directly into the camera. And the phantom bus picks up Birch and takes her out of town. To oblivion, perhaps She should have gone to art school. The ending, which should have been hopeful, was instead a real downer. That bus sure wasn't taking Birch to any art school on this planet. Other than that, GHOST WORLD was OK. No masterpiece, but OK. Just saw little Thora in a supporting role in an old title called SMOKERS. She was pretty good as the unconventional little sister in this variation on HEATHERS and JAWBREAKERS.
July 3, 2002, 9:06 p.m. CST
by water resistant
Has anyone else here seen the ChubbChubbs?- a cgi short playing before MIIB...? WOW! It's crap! It's directed by Eric Armstrong, the animation supervisor for the two Stuart Littles. So, he knows the technology, but not a THING about what's funny. The whole theory behind it seems to be that pop culture references in themselves are funny- context doesn't matter; i.e OH LOOK, there's Darth Vader and Yoda arm-wrestling! Look there! An alien on a bicycle with E.T. in the basket! Hoo hoo! The lead character alien dreams of himself as a karaoke king singing "why can't we bw friends"! Hee hee ho ho! WOW! Crap. Am I obbsessing over this too much?
July 3, 2002, 9:15 p.m. CST
Kubrick's luster will diminish with time, huh? Shows how much you know. As for Ms. Dupont, she is an OK reviewer, but she ain't no Pauline Kael. She at least makes fewer typos than other reviewers on this site.
July 4, 2002, 12:12 a.m. CST
I saw the movie tonight. I enjoyed it. I thought the first one was better though. I plan on seeing it again for two reasons. 1. I enjoyed it. 2. I want to find a print that has the Star Trek: Nemesis teaser on it. David Cross's character picks up the shovel because he misinterpreted what Smith said to him. I enjoyed Josie and the Pussycats. I loved that scene when Alan Cummings' character holds up the CD case. A movie I am looking forward to is Eight-Legged Freaks. I have been waiting for that movie since I saw the trailer for it last year.
July 4, 2002, 3:55 a.m. CST
The world did not need this film. The course of human history has not been improved one jot by having this digitally enhanced turd floating in the bowl of our collective reality. Only the coke habits of certain Hollywood dickheads will benefit from this film exisiting. I'm all for 'light entertainment'but the paucity of imagination and inspiration on display here is staggering. Break the hands of everyone involved and let's have some REAL films instead. Like Godzilla. That kicked ass.
July 4, 2002, 1:39 p.m. CST
and "Josie and the Pussycats" are the cinematic equivalent of cotton candy. Which tastes good and is enjoyable when you put it in your mouth but evaporates and is gone within seconds. And the experience of watching the films mentioned above is exacly the same.
July 4, 2002, 4:46 p.m. CST
by Zembla Rex
I'm posting this because Ms.DuPont obviously reads the talk back section and cares what people think (which is probably a bad idea considering the general nature of the comments.) Ms.DuPont, you have written the most consistently informative and entertaining reviews on this site. Period. Please don't feel as if you need to dumb them down.
July 4, 2002, 7:06 p.m. CST
that's what we REALLY wanna know.
July 5, 2002, 5:47 a.m. CST
by Darth Pixel
Yeah, it had its moments. The Metallica reference was funny as hell. And, the line about Christina Aguilera x 3 was too damn funny! Other than that... it was no Purple Rain.
July 5, 2002, 5:19 p.m. CST
by Dawn O' the Dead
I love it when the public clamors for my opinion! It's almost as exciting as a two-for-one sale at Nordies. In a nutshell: MIB2 illustrates everything that's wrong with the standard blockbuster Hollywood sequel. After Men in Black (c. 1997) there wasn't any more story to tell -- but since the first one made 600 gazillion dollars, there HAD to be an attempt to squeeze more lettuce out of the property. So all the usual suspects were rounded up and shoehorned into the story (talking dog, worm guys, fella who grows his head back when it's shot off) and a plot was flimsily constructed to contain all the necessary elements. It's tired, it's stale, and it never elicits more than an occasional chuckle. Will Smith oozes more charisma when he's sleepwalking than most actors do when they're working their asses off, but Tommy Lee Jones appears to be in desperate need of a nap throughout. Great special effects, technically, but not especially entertaining because nothing fresh or interesting is done with them. Sonnenfeld used to know how to do a sequel -- Addams Family Values was *better* than the first film -- but he just doesn't seem to care here; the pacing is slow and uneven. The entire thing is flaccid and forgettable -- and, at a mere 80 minutes, still feels like it's heavily padded.. On the Sonnenfeld Scale it certainly doesn't approach Wild Wild West for utter despicability ... but it's really just reason to get out of the summer heat and into some air conditioning more than anything. Since you asked.
July 5, 2002, 8:19 p.m. CST
I was rather disappointed it mib2. The humor was a bit on the dry side and there was a lack of information on the "LIGHT". We had no idea how the light would destroy earth or anything. it was an ok movie but was a bit dry.
July 7, 2002, 4:26 p.m. CST
I loved it, better than the first. And even I did not really want to see it...I wanted to watch something else, but it's hard to convince three little girls to watch something like Minority Report. Sorry, but someone who uses the word "satire" in a review should not be reviewing a movie like Men In Black II. You just don't "GET IT". If you liked MIB, you will LOVE MIB II. The last joke is the best.
July 7, 2002, 4:28 p.m. CST
Are you people mad? It was obviously a parody of the lost ark of the covenant, similar to the one in raiders. That's all it was.
July 7, 2002, 7:25 p.m. CST
this is not a spoiler...it's just a parody of the lost ark of the covenant, like the one in raiders.
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