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K Follows J (but Not For Long)
on July 4, 2002
With tongue planted so firmly in cheek as to be in danger of serious injury, Barry Sonnenfeld set out to surpass his own 5 year old triumph with Men in Black II. He didn't quite clear the mark set by MiB, but he came much closer than I ever thought he could.
Clearly, the goal of the MiB2 cast and crew was to expand the best elements of the first movie and lose those bits which didn't work so well. They had a great idea and implemented it well, but I think that they may have gone just a tad too far in paring the story and script down. MiB2 is a great ride, from the first frame to the last, and rarely have I seen 90 minutes go by so quickly. A little too quickly, as it turned out.
This flick is even more densely packed with one-liners, droll humor, visual puns and delightfully cynical satire than the first. It opens with a segment from a no-budget TV series on strange and unexplained phenomena (hosted by Peter Graves, of course) describing how the Earth narrowly escaped destruction in 1978 when we were caught between Serleena, a powerful and evil alien, and the object of her desire, a mysterious force known as the Light of Zartha. At that critical juncture 25 years ago, a super-secret government agency (which licenses and polices alien activity on Earth) kept us out of the line of fire by refusing the Zarthans' request to hide the Light on Earth.
Cut to the present day and Serleena's back. Naturally. She's still looking for the Light of Zartha and she's severely POed that she hasn't found it yet. Arriving on Earth undetected, her first problem is the same faced by the galactic cockroach in MiB: find a disguise that will pass among the primitve humans. As a shape shifting nest of snake-like apendages, though, she had an easier time of it than the 20 foot Bug. Almost immediately, she comes accros a magazine open to a full page Victoria's Secret ad and before you can say "brand new Edgar suit", she's taken the form of Lara Flynn Boyle . . . in nothing more than Victoria's best black lingerie. This is one dangerous alien.
Actually, Boyle does a good job of filling Vincent D'Onofrio's shoes. She's a smarter (if less ghastly) villain than the Bug and before long has put J and K at a serious disadvantage by completely taking over MiB headquarters.
Ah yes, Jay and Kay. Let's face it: the real key to the success of Men in Black was the hillarious juxtaposition of Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. Well, Kay is back and the chemistry has lost very little zing in the 5 years it was on the shelf. it turns out that the erstwhile Agent K is the only human being who might possibly know how to find the Light of Zartha. Unfortunatly, he's still got a 35 year gap in his memory and is working as the Postmaster of a small town in Maine. Zed dispatches J to bring him back and get him de-neuralized, post haste.
I won't give away any more of the plot than this; it's thin enough as it stands and I wouldn't want to spoil what few surprises there are. Fortunatly, the movie isn't really about the plot, now is it? it's about the gags, the special effects and watching Smith and Jones have *way* too much fun. Several other characters from the first flick also return, including Tony Shalhoub as the occaisionaly headless pawnbroker Jeebs, the four ungrateful worm guys and the wisecracking, karaoke singing pug, Frank.
Go see it, it's a hoot. The humor is a bit more juvenile than in the first movie, perhaps, but it really doesn't suffer much for all of that.