‘Men in Black’ should fade to black after the third

Josh Brolin and Will Smith star in ‘Men in Black 3.’


Fifteen years after the original and 10 years after the sequel comes the movie that most of us have not been waiting for — Men in Black 3.

Notable for its blend of action, sci-fi and comedy, the third installment stumbles this time in the laughs department. The few funny bits are in the trailer. So if that’s your motivation for checking it out, stay home.

The movie isn’t a complete failure, thanks to Josh Brolin, whose dead-on impersonation of Tommy Lee Jones is almost worth the high price of admission these days.

As the story goes, Agent K (Jones) and Agent J (Will Smith) have now been partners in the Men in Black, a secret alien crimefighting agency, for 15 years and have developed quite a bit of a bond. Unfortunately, there’s this one-armed alien criminal named Boris the Animal (Jermaine Clement) that has recently escaped prison. Boris wants to go back in time to 1969 and kill the man who shot off his arm and put him in prison — that’s Agent K (Brolin). This forces Agent J to travel back in time to save his partner before he is murdered.

To maximize enjoyment of the flick, it’s best not to spend much time analyzing the whole time travel aspect. There are holes galore, but that’s OK, since no one takes these flicks too seriously anyhow. In the end, the story shows a bit of heart; there is character development and some unexpected sentimentality. I don’t think anyone would be too disappointed if the filmmakers called it a day here and left Men in Black 4 as an idea that never comes to fruition.

As far as the visuals go, I checked this out in 3-D, but aside from a memorable scene where Smith jumps off the Chrysler Building to go back in time (it’s called a time jump, so of course, he has to physically jump), it’s typical CG graphics that can be viewed in 2-D with the same overall effect.

It’s nice that Jones, Smith and director Barry Sonnenfeld all return for the third flick.

Jones is still the dead­pan straight man to Smith’s funny man per­sona. It’s hard to tell if Smith is just phoning in his per­form­ance, or if is he just so good it seems ef­fort­less.

Either way, and des­pite some of the lame jokes in the movie, Smith has still has the buddy chem­istry with Jones and now with Brolin. Jones’ part is rather small com­pared to the pre­vi­ous flicks, as his char­ac­ter is mostly por­trayed by Brolin. And it was def­in­itely a good bit of cast­ing with Brolin as the young­er ver­sion of Jones.

Supporting roles from Emma Thompson and Alice Eve (as the older/younger Agent O), Michael Stuhlbarg (Griffin the alien) and Bill Hader (Andy Warhol) only make a minimal impact.

Overall, if you’re a die-hard fan of the series that’s been waiting with bated breath for 10 years, you won’t be disappointed by MIB 3. It’s not as good as the first, but it’s certainly better than MIB 2, which was forgettable shortly after watching it. Those MIB must have used the neuralyzer (that’s the memory eraser stick) on me. MIB 3 is adequate summer entertainment — assuming you’ve already seen The Avengers and are looking for another popcorn flick. ••

Movie Grade: B


You can reach at shorbrook@bsmphilly.com.

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