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  Film Reviews: You Know, I Once Saw A Better Version: Men In Black II  

Monday, July 22
You Know, I Once Saw A Better Version: Men In Black II
I was all ready for Men In Black II. The parental unit was in town, it was Fourth of July Weekend and Barry Sonnenfeld had spent about 3 trillion dollars (less Will Smith’s 1.89 trillion dollar salary for showing up every third hour on prime numbered days) on the new movie. He had a proven formula and a great story the last time. This time we’d have Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones and a talking dog! How could this movie not be the best sequel ever? Scratch that…I really should start reading my own introductions.

I remember the original Men In Black so fondly. Clever jokes, a Will Smith I could stand, a surprisingly funny Tommy Lee Jones. I even own the deluxe DVD because it took advantage of the little-used “Scene Angle” feature of the DVD player (selected scenes are shot from multiple angles). I was even planning on listening to the director commentary some day. The original movie was by no means high art, but it was still highly entertaining.

My first clue that things weren’t going to be as good should have been clear as soon as I knew who the alien villains were. (For those of you that say “it was a sequel,” I would kindly point out that several sequels are just as good, if not better than the original – take “The Godfather II” as Exhibit A.) In the original, respected actor Vincent D’Onofrio played Edgar/The Bug. Vincent’s past accomplishments included “Full Metal Jacket,” “Malcolm X,” and “JFK.” Big directors, meaty parts – the stuff that you would expect on the “good actor” resume. Men in Black II gives us Laura Flynn Boyle and Johnny Knoxville, best known for gems like “The Temp” and MTV’s “Jackass.” Despite all of this knowledge, I sprang for reserved tickets in the Arena Grand Balcony.

I shall now apply Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s Five Stages of Grief to the theater-goers experience while watching a highly-anticipated film that will inevitably turn out to be complete crap:

Stage 1: Denial. The theater-goer does not believe that this is actually a bad film. All indications that might point to a bad movie are quickly dismissed. With Men In Black II, casting was dismissed as Sonnenfeld genius!

Stage 2: Anger and Resentment. The theater-goer is shocked and cannot believe that this is happening. During Men in Black II, the strong thud of the joke known as “we’ll pretend that Laura binges and purges right after she lands on the planet, ha-ha” is the shocker that begins the anger against Mr. Sonnenfeld.

Stage 3: Bargaining. The theater-goer promises to let bad story and lack of plot in exchange for a few priceless gems. In Men In Black II, we swear that if the funny Will Smith makes an appearance that we’ll be more than willing to call this movie good.

Stage 4: Depression. The theater-goer acknowledges that the film is bad. Here, we simply wait for the time to pass and the credits to roll. In Men In Black II, this happens when we realize that even bringing back Tommy Lee Jones hasn’t helped the movie.

Stage 5: Acceptance. We know what we saw wasn’t good. Others may be confused when our initial excitement about the movie is now gone. Perhaps we’re afraid to admit that we’ve paid money to see the film. Eventually, we move on to the next Cineplex.

That being said,

The Usual:

Recommendation: Rent this at the 99 cent counter, if you must. Better yet, try it if you’ve got a “rent one movie Free!” coupon. Otherwise, there will be a time when HBO becomes the “All Men In Black II Channel.”

Annoying Theater Goer: Hey, Arena Grand reserved balcony. Just not possible to have a bad experience there!

Main Reason To See This Film: David Cross.

Main Reason Not To See This Film: I prefer not to talk about that anymore. I feel that I’ve reached closure on the subject.

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Nudity: No, husband would like to point out Laura looked “okay” in Victoria Secret underwear.

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