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Review: Men in Black II

Now that ImClone has brought Martha Stewart back to planet Earth, her superhuman tricks don’t feel quite so superhuman anymore.

Men in Black II
Photo: Columbia Pictures

Kylothian alien high priestess Serleena is tearing up the universe on “her” quest to find the light of Zartha, warming up to Lara Flynn Boyle’s body as strewn across the pages of a fashion magazine. Surprisingly, there’s not so much as one feminist icky spot to be found anywhere on Boyle’s alien-cum-harlot number. Screenwriters Bobby Fanaro and Robert Gordon seem to have taken the poly-armed Serleena’s model transformation a tad too literally in that the new and improved Sereleena has zero personality. Just as empty are Agents J (Will Smith) and K (Tommy Lee Jones), back for more gooey battles with wily aliens and worm creatures. Sure, the film’s many wiggling aliens and flashy gizmos should sedate most rambunctious toddlers but why does the soulless Men in Black II feel as if it were written for that dork that somehow got past the bouncer at your favorite nightclub? MIB II supports the theory that “Who Let The Dogs Out?” can indeed be incorporated into a successful joke. In this case, though, it’s less the reference to the song that’s effective than the timing of the CGI dog’s bark. But let’s get back to the guy who actually dodged the bouncer. He’s the guy at the party who’s perpetually living five-minutes ago, referencing “Who Let The Dogs Out?” and finding clever ways of redefining the cheesy pick-up line (for him, “Once you go black, you’ll never go back” might become something like, say, “Once you go worm, you’ll go yearn”). MIB II is so aware of itself as vaudeville spectacle that a pre-credit encore is inevitable. If there’s any surprise here it’s that said encore is not a blooper reel but a cutesy, existential sequence that toys with the enslavement of the human race. The material is as dated as Smith’s rhymes, from the black-man-in-a-taxicab jive to the celebrity cameos. Note to Sony: we already knew that Michael Jackson was an alien. Furthermore, now that ImClone has brought Martha Stewart back to planet Earth, her superhuman tricks don’t feel quite so superhuman anymore.

Cast: Tommy Lee Jones, Will Smith, Rip Torn, Rosario Dawson, Patrick Warburton, Lara Flynn Boyle Paige Brooks, David Cross, Darrell Foster, Jeremy Howard, Linda Kim, Tony Shalhoub, Johnny Knoxville Director: Barry Sonnenfeld Screenwriter: Bobby Fanaro, Robert Gordon Distributor: Columbia Pictures Running Time: 90 min Rating: PG Year: 2002 Buy: Video, Soundtrack

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