In the year 1997, a film called, “Men In Black” directed by Barry Sonnenfeld. (The Addams Family, Addams Family Values, Get Shorty) The film opened worldwide gaining positive reception from critics and movie goers alike. In addition to warm reviews, the film made a lot of money a the box office. It spawned a cartoon on Kids WB spanning four seasons from 1997-2001, action figures, a music video from its lead star, Will Smith & a dedicated fan base. Before a sequel was developed, Barry & Will reunite in a western action comedy titled, “Wild Wild West.” Unlike Men In Black, it received negative reviews from critics and movie goers alike. Will said that he made a big mistake of his career. Until “After Earth” happened when his son, Jaden failed to follow in his daddy’s footsteps.
Development of “Men In Black II” commenced since 2001 to get everybody back together including original Cast Members, collaborators, effects crew, production designers, composer among many others.
Men In Black II was released in 2002. (same year Sony’s mega hit Spider-Man came out) Unlike its predecessor, the sequel earned mixed reviews from critics and managed to make a profit at the box office, which means Agents Jay & Kay disintegrated The Powerpuff Girls’ big screen debut. Ironically, Blossom, Bubbles & Buttercup’s movie was better than Men In Black II. Ten Years Later, a third installment was an improvement in terms of good reception.
Before Men In Black: International comes out starring Chris Hemsworth & Tessa Thompson, I want to share my thoughts on what’s good or bad about the second installment of Men In Black. I’m also gearing up for Will Smith’s upcoming “Aladdin” remake, “Spies In Disguise” & teaming up with Martin Lawrence in a third “Bad Boys” movie.
Today’s review contains very important SPOILERS. If you have never seen any of the Men In Black movies, read at your own risk.
Smart & Dumb Elements
Smart: The Cast from the first film such as Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Tony Shalhoub & Rip Torn all did a fantastic job for their respective performances.
Newcomers including Rosario Dawson, Johnny Knoxville, Lara Flynn Boyle & Patrick Warburton (Joe Swanson from Family Guy) all did a decent job for their respective performances.
Barry Sonnenfeld did a good job directing.
Danny Elfman returned to compose the second film. He later composed the third film.
Cinematography felt authentic, lacking technical flaws.
Like the last movie, Will Smith ad libbed his lines.
Makeup Artist, Rick Baker (The Nutty Professor, An American Werewolf In London) applied prosthetic makeup on extras and designed a beer gut for Serleena in one scene.
Men In Black II is one of the many spy related films in 2002. Here’s the long list in release date order: “Clockstoppers,” “The Sum Of Fears,” “Bad Company,” “The Bourne Identity,” “Lilo & Stitch,” “Hey Arnold: The Movie,” “The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course,” “Austin Powers In Goldemember,” “The Master Of Disguise,” “Spy Kids 2: The Island Of Lost Dreams,” “Triple XXX,” “The Tuxedo,” “I Spy” & “Die Another Day.”
Men In Black II takes place in July 2002. Which is my birthday month. Will’s nickname is “Mr. July” a reference to his box office success since “Independence Day” was the biggest movie of 1996.
If you pause the film at the 0:05:10 mark, Larry David appears on a page in Victoria’s Secret magazine promoting Curb Your Enthusiasm. Gotta love Easter Eggs.
Jay quotes one of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s phrases during his battle with Serleena.
Frank The Pug has a bigger role than his brief appearance from the first movie. Pugs are my favorite dog breed.
Comedian, David Cross returns as a different character. In the first movie he played a morgue employee. This time he plays a video store clerk.
My favorite part of the movie is a locker filled with small creatures saying “All Hail Kay.” After Jay replaces Kay’s watch, whom the creatures worship, they later chant, “All Hail Jay.”
Peter Graves (Captain Oveur from Airplane) appears as a TV host.
As Jay & Kay watch a VHS tape of Peter Graves presenting a dramatization of cheesy spaceship, Jay sarcastically quips “Looks like Spielberg’s work.” Mr. Spielberg himself served as an executive producer for the Men In Black films.
Nick Cannon makes a cameo appearance as an MIB agent. He hasn’t done anything good besides hosting any show he’s on. His biggest accomplishment is marrying Mariah Carey. Too bad they separated.
Jay’s car has a flying mode. Wait a minute! Harry Potter & The Chamber Of Secrets also used a flying car with Harry & Ron driving it! Plus, their partnership is similar to Jay & Kay!
Will’s real life sons Jaden & Trey appear as two kids getting neuralized by Jay’s flying car. Presumably a metaphor for his kids to forget he was in Wild Wild West.
The late Michael Jackson makes a cameo appearance as “Agent M.” At least he wasn’t in a balcony tossing a “blanket” up in the air. If you know what I mean.
Like the first movie, Will provided the theme song for the sequel titled, “Black Suits Comin’ (Nod Ya Head)” you can find the music video on The Internet.
The film opens with The Lady from Columbia Pictures, flashes her torch mimicking “The Neuralizer.” I wish it was real to forget the dumb elements.
When Jay & Kay blow up Serleena with their guns. The explosion transforms into the MIB logo resembling a fireworks finale during The 4th Of July above The Statue Of Liberty. The Cast & Crew originally shot The Final Battle with The Twin Towers in the background. After 9/11 happened, they had to reshoot the scene and honor the victims of 9/11 and New York showing the MIB logo above The Statue Of Liberty as a symbol on how we are proud of our country as Americans & do everything we can to save lives as much as we can. Coincidentally, Spider-Man also had to reshoot a scene during Spider-Man fight with Green Goblin with the citizens of New York throwing objects at Goblin to give Spider-Man time to save a cart full of kids & Mary-Jane at the same time.
Dumb: Johnny Knoxville’s two headed character, Scrad & Chad suddenly disappears after Kay regains his memories. Serleena’s two headed henchmen were never arrested, killed or mentioned if they’re still at large. Talk about a “Karma Houndi.” What is a Karma Houdini? It means a despicable character, known for his/her diabolical schemes, gets away from the law.
Linda Fiorentino’s character Laurel/Agent L from the first movie, is mentioned that she wanted to return to the morgue. The closest thing to see Laurel as an MIB agent in a major role is to watch episodes of Men In Black: The Series. Too bad the cartoon is non-canon.
Some of the plot points from the first film are recycled. Serleena’s motive is too similar to Edgar The Bug. Jay & Kay’s roles are swapped, Jay is the mentor & Kay is the student. Laura is kinda like Laurel, both of their names start with an L & they have the hots for Jay. Like Jay (back when he was a rookie) Kay pokes around with MIB equipment touching a sphere like object with his finger. Serleena’s true form is a giant monster as in Edgar’s.
An editing error showing Jay’s watch replacing Kay’s for The Locker Room aliens. One second later, Kay’s watch is on display.
A Plot Hole involving Serleena’s spaceship. During The Opening Credits, she blows up a few planets in one zap. Why didn’t she blow up Earth? If she did, it would’ve been anti-climatic. Serleena turned out to be a complete moron like Harry & Marv from Home Alone.
The romance between Jay & Laura was unnecessary. I didn’t care about their early relationship. In real life, it takes a week or two for two people to get to know each other before a relationship is established.
Another Plot Hole involving “The Noisy Cricket.” Jay’s tiny pistol from the first film. If the user pulls the trigger, the gun’s powerful recoil will send the user flying into the air. Kay somehow got lucky from the gun’s recoil.
As Jay is about to leave the cafe, he said, “I’ll flash you some other time.” Poor choice of words. Why didn’t he say: “I’ll erase you some other time?”
Visual Effects haven’t aged very well. Examples including a fake looking’ blue screen, an gigantic C.G.I. worm & Serlena’s true form.
A young stunt double for Zed doing a jump seemed pretty obvious from the naked eye.
Product Placement featuring brands like Burger King, Mountain Dew, Victorica’s Secret, Sprint, Sony, (obviously) Jack Daniels & EBay. Let me get this straight. The MIB are known for going incognito from the human population, are now sponsored like any NASCAR driver. They’ve gone from anonymous to sellout. Can you imagine if Hogwarts sponsored many brands?
The Final Verdict: C, FOR CONTRIVED!
In my opinion, Men In Black II is a personification of a teeter-totter going up and down. If you wanna turn your brain off, perhaps it’s a good idea to watch it for the positive aspects. If you’re gearing up for Men In Black: International, give the second entry a try. Don’t forget to prep up for Will Smith as Genie in Disney’s Aladdin remake.