Film Flashback: Men In Black II (2002)

men in black 2 Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones have returned to reprise their roles as Agents K and J, members of Men In Black –  the uber-secret government agency that monitors the activities of extra-terrestrials. That’s the good news.

And the bad? That the filmmakers forgot what else made the original the highest grossing film in 1997. [2012 Flash Forward: By 2002 and the arrival of “Spider-Man,” audiences were set to embrace a new genre full force. Kind of ironic that just as Spidey trampled the momentum “Men In Black II,” the third installment has to compete with another juggernaut comic-book film in “Marvel’s The Avengers” and the fourth Spidey flick, “The Amazing Spider-Man.]

At the end of the original, K is ready to lead a normal life with no knowledge of apprehending or working alongside aliens, freaks or people whose last name is not Osborne [2012 Flash Forward: That’s the kind of topical reference that gets dated soooo quickly.] and has J remove his memories with the neuralizer.

Men in Black 2 - SeleenaWhile K enjoys a peaceful life at the post office, J goes on to become the MIB’s best agent albeit one with a rather nasty reputation of getting rid of troublesome partners via the neuralizer.

It gets so bad (especially for the audience) that on his next assignment Jay gets paired with Frank the Pug, an alien who looks like a pug. The first few jokes on this combo are actually funny, but by the time Frank is singing along to “Who let the dogs out?” all traces of humor have long since left this one-bark gag.

J meets Laura (Rosario Dawson) the lone eyewitness to an alien homicide, but can’t bring himself to use the neuralizer. But before the budding romance can get started (and with only 88 minutes, don’t expect a long or rationale courtship) J has to deal with the murderer, an alien named Serleena, (Laura Flynn Boyle) who is intent on finding a planet-destroying device. The only MIB agent who knows the location of the device is (surprise, surprise) K, who has to first get his memory back.

There are some positives to the film. It can’t be said enough how much Smith’s charisma and Jones’ deadpan delivery almost save this movie and it’s to their credit that this movie isn’t as bad as it should be.

Men in Black 2 - Will Smith and Tommy Lee JonesAt the end of the film, I walked over to the lone man in a black suit and asked him to make me forget about the last 88 minutes, that’s right, neuralize me! I’m ready, but alas, he only reached into his pocket and stamped my validation ticket. Sigh. It was worth a shot.

[2012 Flash Forward: This was a pretty widely low-regarded sequel that managed to extinguish audience’s demand for more “Men in Black.” That fact that it’s taken a decade for the next installment hints that beyond the usual “waiting on a good script, blah blah,” Sony Pictures wanted moviegoers to forget about this sequel the old fashioned way.]

2012 Film Flashback Rating: 4 out of 10