Powerful ending saves third Men in Black movie
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Not liking Will Smith is like finding George Clooney disagreeable. (Now, there are some people that others dislike for no real reason; for the Movie Man, that’s Katherine Heigl and Anne Hathaway [sadly, she’s in the upcoming Batman movie].) Most of the time, Smith makes exceptional choices and fans, like the Movie Man, keep turning out.
About the film
Smith seldom picks a poor movie (even though it was his wife who encouraged him to make the first MiB). His last movie, Seven Pounds, was not that well–received and was one of the few Smith pictures that the Movie Man skipped. (He went to Yes Man [Movie Man No. 804, a 5] Dec. 18, 2008 instead.) Seven Pounds ended a consecutive nine-movie streak that the Movie Man had seen of Smith’s work.
Unlike Smith, his costars in Men in Black 3, Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin, have been more prolific. Cantankerous Jones was in last year’s Captain Avenger: The First Avenger and has two other movies ready to go later in 2012, Hope Springs and Lincoln.
Brolin, like Jones, was strong in No Country for Old Men in 2007 (a year he appeared in six movies). He was super in the True Grit remake and is a big player in the upcoming Gangster Squad.
Smith’s future includes the sci-fi After Earth (with son Jaden, June 7, 2013) then, like MiB3, a (possible) trio of sequels: Hancock 2, Bad Boys 3, and I, Robot 2.
If those sequels do get made and enjoy the success of MiB3, then most studios would be happy. However, rumors persist that MiB3 cost much more than the reported $200 million. While, like so many others before it, MiB3 is doing better internationally, its $70 million open was considered not great.
Still, No. 3, based on an idea from Smith, is superior to the disappointing MiB2 but inferior to the original.
The plot (spoilers)
Agent J (Smith) thinks Agent K (Jones) is grumpier than usual. When asked why, Jones tells him to beware asking questions that Smith might not like the answer to. Later, reporting to work, Smith discovers that Jones is not there.
Agent O (Emma Thompson) figures out that the recently-escaped convict Boris (Jermaine Clement) has gone back in time and killed Jones which means the intergalactic invasion that Jones had thwarted would not be averted.
So Smith goes back in time to July 15, 1969, where, with just 24 hours to work with, he seeks out a much more pleasant Agent K (Brolin). They begin hunting down Clement while fending off a slew of space critters as the invasion force approaches rapidly.
Everyone, including two Borises, wind up at the Apollo launch that was bound for the moon (where Clement escapes from decades later). A special object must be placed atop the capsule before it blasts off – it creates the worldwide defense system that would protect the Earth from future attacks – and the two Borises are determined to stop the MiBs.
Jones gets help from an interplanetary dude named Griffin (Michael Stuhlbarg, channeling Robin Williams) and a colonel at the launch site who ends up being the pivotal player – and the answer that Jones warned about early in the movie.
Smith is terrific, as usual, and MiB3 is really his movie; he’s in almost every scene and the camera still loves him. His delivery remains top notch and so do his facial expressions. He just great.
But Brolin is even better. All his practicing “doing” Jones before the movie began pays off big time. His deadpan deliver, body positions, and general look are all letter-perfect.
Director Barry Sonnenfeld, who made the fantastic Addams Family movies, also has helmed the three MiBs. He can be hit and miss (Wild Wild West, with Smith, falls into the latter). However, this third MiB zooms along.
There’s a nice scene where eating pie solves a difficult problem and a funny sequence where Andy Warhol ends up being an MiB agent and a few other flashback oddities hit the mark. The best one…
A desperate Smith, steals a snazzy convertible and a black man driving such a nice car in 1969 gets him pulled over pretty quickly. Smith begins to protest that just because he’s a black man, he must have stolen this car, huh?. A few beats later, he added that, yes, okay, he did steal this one, but…
It’s the funniest moment in the movie and classic Smith.
What doesn’t work
Sadly, much of the film is just not that funny. Smith, such a great comedian, gets too few lines. What made the original so super was that he was consistently funny; no so here.
Also a bummer is the lack of use of Thompson. She, too, can be a hoot, but she’s barely in it.
And the bad guy, Boris, is hardly fleshed out. The fact that he sounded just like Tim Curry also threw the Movie Man. Dr. Frank N. Furter was an extraterrestrial, remember.
The PG-13 for these sorts of sci-fi comedies are always for mild language and creature violence and the resulting goo when they are vanquished. MiB3 is pretty mild overall.
This is one of those movies that you beg to be funnier and it just never does get any better.
It’s okay – just okay.