Men in Black II (1)

 Copyright © 2003 by Tony Medley


Men in Black satisfies Woody Allenís dictum that no movie should last longer than 90 minutes, coming in with two minutes to spare at 88 minutes running time.  It only seems like five hours. 

Tommy Lee Jones is one of the better actors of this generation.  He was terrific in Under Siege and in the Javert-type role in The Fugitive.  The man can act.  Here heís taking a vacation.  Comedy is an actorís most difficult task.  When I think of wonderful comedic parts, I think of George Segal in Touch of Class, Cary Grant in His Girl Friday, Bringing up Baby, and the other screwball comedies, Laurence Olivier in The Prince and the Showgirl.  These were great actors at the top of their craft. 

Alas, in Men in Black Jones is asked to, in the words of Spencer Tracy, remember his lines and know his marks.  And thatís all he does.  He keeps a straight face and speaks his lines in a monotone.  Oh, once tears come from his eyes, but maybe itís because heís thinking of how heís being upstaged by a bunch of worms and how heís abandoned his integrity to participate in this tedious piece of fluff for the money. 

This film is so full of special effects that it seems as if there are only about seven minutes of actual story-telling from which to decipher a plot.  I walked out hoping never to see a special effect again.  Speaking of special effects, couldnít Director Barry Sonnenfeld have found some way to hide all the lines in Jonesí face?  What happened to the Robert Redford Filter? 

Even though this movie thinks itís sooo clever, there are no smart lines in a script by Robert Gordon and Barry Fanaro that, giving it its best face, is moronic.  The music is actually pretty good.  It sounds like thereís a plot.  But all youíre watching is 88 minutes of special effects.  Better to watch a documentary on the Discovery Channel. 

Rip Torn is another favorite actor of mine.  I wonder what Larry Sanders would think of Artie prostituting himself like this.  Poor Will Smith is the person who acts in this movie.  He just doesnít have any material with which to work.  There are a couple of surprising cameos, but there is also nepotism as Director Sonnenfeld scattered Sonnenfelds throughout the cast. 

When I first heard they were going to make a sequel to Men in Black, I thought that it epitomized how low Hollywood had sunk, that such a trivial film could be so deserving.  Can you imagine Irving Thalberg coming out of a screening of Men in Black and someone suggesting a sequel?  The thought makes me shudder. 

Worse news is that Jones is already talking about making a third Men in Black.  Has the man no shame?  Tommy, think for a minute.  Would Paul Newman act in something like this?  Surely youíre beyond acting just for the money.

The End