Retro Review: Men in Black 2

Written: July 4, 2002

Hidden within the halls of the government is a covert division that monitors and polices extra-terrestrial life on the planet Earth.

This branch dresses in their smart black suits and carry sometimes, giant flashy silver-laden guns. They are the “Men in Black”.
It has been four years since Agent Jay (Will Smith) neuralized and said good-bye to his mentor and friend Agent Kay (Tommy Lee Jones). Jay has had his share of problems as he has gone through a variety of partners. He has never fully gotten over his mentor’s departure.

When a vicious alien named Serleena (Lara Flynn Boyle) comes to Earth in search of “the light” hidden on Earth, Jay is forced to seek out his mentor. If Serleena would be able to obtain “the light” then life as we know it would cease. Locked inside Kay’s brainwashed mind is the location of “the light” and the key to stopping Serleena. Can Jay get Kay to speed in time to save the planet?

“Men in Black 2” is one of the most-highly-anticipated movies of the summer but may go down in history as the shortest sequel. With a tiny running time of less than 83 minutes, MIIB plays more like an alternate ending to the first film. We are thrown back into Jay’s world as we bear witness to the strange things happening once again. In a less than two-minute summation we know where Jay stands. What happened to the emotional connection these guys had with their job? Not the “oh shucks I am a man in black” attitude.

I really loved the first movie as it cleverly intertwined humor and action. This time out it’s purely a sort of a reunion movie that dives straight for the laughs. I like how the film explores and develops the “worm-guys” and “Frank the Dog” but I am not sure it understands the holistic approach developed in the first film. There are a lot of great gags and jokes. I am sure you will laugh but at the end you will be scratching’ your head and saying, “where was the story?”

Co-writer Robert Gordon who wrote the wonderful sci-fi comedy “Galaxy Quest” created the film’s premise. I would have liked to see the film go in another direction. Maybe continue Jay’s training as an agent and have Jay visit his old mentor so he can see what it is like not be a man in black. Then force Jay to team up with a new partner to take on a new threat. During the scenes where Jay was the teacher I never fully believed that he was capable of being one. It’s like there was a step skipped. Maybe it’s just me.

Kids and teens will probably eat this film up but for the UFO-junkies and sci-fi fans, which embraced the original, it will be a harder sell.

(3 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

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