Marvel Movie Madness! Part 27: Men in Black II

Does the series go out Big Willie Style?

by | July 8, 2011 | Comments

Enter Marvel Movie Madness, wherein Rotten Tomatoes watches all of the significant Marvel movies ever made. Full Marvel Movie Madness list here. Tune in! We give you our thoughts, and you give us yours.


Part 27: Men in Black II (2003, 39% @ 290 reviews)

Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, starring Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Rip Torn, Rosario Dawson

Luke: Like “Who Let the Dogs Out?”, the word “bangin'” and Lara Flynn Boyle — apparent cultural touchstones of turn-of-the-century America — I forgot this belated sequel even existed. Which is understandable, because Men in Black II is a pretty lazy follow-up to a reasonably funny hit; the kind of movie where everything that felt fresh about the first instalment is milked charmlessly — and in which a talking pug gives a more enthusiastic performance than the paycheck-cashing leads. As is the way of many inferior sequels, MiBII is content to recycle the basic plot — again, the agency must stop an intergalactic menace– “psycho hose beast” herself Lara Flynn Boyle as tentacled alien Surleena — while regurgitating gags and set pieces from the original.

Things start cute enough, with a nice parody of a ’70s “search for the unknown”-style TV show hosted by Peter Graves, before reintroducing Will Smith’s Agent Jay and his new partner Puddy, er Brock Samson, or whoever it is Patrick Warburton plays here. (Where’s Linda Fiorentino, anyway?) Of course, the film needs to reunite Smith with Agent Kay (Tommy Lee Jones), who’s still neuralyzed and working in a post office — though we now learn, conveniently, that the brain-wipe can be reversed, so Kay can unlock the memory of the diamante-universe-controlling-bracelet-or-whatever Surleena is searching for. It takes so long for Jones to reawaken as Kay that you begin to wonder if the actor had that written into his contract so he didn’t have to put any effort in; by the time he and Smith are back together he seems about as interested in his role as what time the next lunch break is. Not that I blame him, when Smith — who’s smugger than ever here — actually interrupts him at one point and suggests that he “Tell it to the hand.” In 2002. So much for the chemistry.

By mid-way I was tuned out and simply watching for oddities — Johnny Knoxville plays a two-headed alien minion; Martha Stewart drops by; and Michael Jackson has an awkward cameo as an alien agent (presumably director Sonnenfeld was atoning for the joke Wednesday makes in Addams Family Values.) Oh, and if you thought Smith’s self-satisfied “Men in Black” was suspect, try and get through the end credits track, “Black Suits Comin’ (Nod Ya Head)”.
MiBIII? As Big Willie Style would say (no cursing), “Hell naw.”


Ryan: Unfortunately, I’m completely with you, Luke. I say “unfortunately” because I don’t remember actively disliking this movie when I first saw it, so when I sat down to rewatch it with its reputation in mind, I fully expected to come out of it defending at least one or two aspects of an overall mediocre movie. It was definitely worse than I remembered.

You’re absolutely right in using the word “lazy” to describe this film. The sight gags are way obvious (Getting “flushed?” “Ballchinian?” Really?), the plotline is completely recycled, the product placement is so blatant it’s jarring, and much of the humor strikes out (How much mileage did they honestly think they were going to get out of jokes about Frank the pug being a pug, or Johnny Knoxville talking to himself?). Speaking of Johnny Knoxville, what happened to him and the other henchmen at the end of the movie? After barging into the worms’ hideout to kidnap Rosario Dawson, they just sort of disappear from the story altogether. Somewhere out there is a man with testicles hanging from his face, running loose and, I don’t know, threatening to sweat on people.

It’s really disappointing, because after the first film you got the sense that, if the people involved played their cards right, they could have had a quality franchise on their hands. In the end, it still made a lot of money, but based on the effort put forth in MiBII, it’s no surprise it took a decade for anyone to brave a third installment.

More Marvel Movie Madness:

Tag Cloud

Red Carpet Action docudrama Grammys TCA 2017 2017 WGN Box Office cooking based on movie CNN Cosplay Musicals Comedy Central police drama Mindy Kaling Nominations Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Warner Bros. diversity HBO TCM Starz Lionsgate The CW Rocky VH1 Summer Oscars Country RT History Star Wars sports El Rey Election Trailer 2015 Dark Horse Comics Reality Horror Set visit NYCC travel GLAAD CBS Music dramedy Logo Drama TNT Interview Paramount sitcom Emmys AMC Infographic crime drama Comedy science fiction Tumblr Syfy Photos supernatural PBS TCA cinemax Toys FOX APB MSNBC Musical First Look American Society of Cinematographers Food Network FX Ghostbusters Fall TV Super Bowl USA crime X-Men E3 Esquire Martial Arts YA Rock Ellie Kemper Nat Geo The Arrangement political drama Mary Tyler Moore DirecTV aliens Mystery Fantasy Sundance Superheroes Valentine's Day Awards singing competition FXX what to watch boxoffice Kids & Family DC Comics Writers Guild of America TBS Trivia Thanksgiving Freeform binge Netflix Star Trek SundanceTV Lifetime Holidays NBC zombie TLC E! PaleyFest ABC LGBTQ Comic Book Calendar Fox News A&E Watching Series social media Winter TV Nickelodeon Pop Extras serial killer talk show Hulu Reality Competition TruTV Tomatazos Disney Channel DC Universe TIFF Sneak Peek Teen war composers Universal Cartoon Network 2016 Spring TV cops Adult Swim VICE Crackle crime thriller GIFs romance 24 frames Video Games GoT politics CBS All Access technology IFC cats Amazon ABC Family BBC Animation President ITV BBC America Marvel Year in Review Rom-Com History thriller discovery vampires biography 007 Polls and Games Bravo TV Land Podcast Opinion Winners ESPN SDCC Sci-Fi OWN TV CMT transformers Premiere Dates period drama 45 Masterpiece MTV Certified Fresh Pirates Biopics historical drama Marathons Disney Showtime BET Character Guide Schedule psycho Countdown adventure harry potter Best and Worst comiccon