Marvel Movie Madness! Part 27: Men in Black II

Does the series go out Big Willie Style?

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.

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Comments

Drew G.

Drew Gerke

The 2nd MIB was definitely a let down. I loved the first, but the 2nd just never seemed to make a whole lot of sense to me. This is one of the few movies in my life that I can recall looking at my watch every ten minutes to see how much longer I had to put up with it.

Jul 8 - 12:53 PM

Big Mizzle

Michael Towle

I actually like this movie but not as much as the first one. The chemistry was still there with the 2 main characters and some of the things that mad the first one good were still here in the 2nd one. I just did not care as much for the plot and some of the new characters in the movie. LFB just did not live up to the villain role like Vincent D did in the first. The ending also felt too similar to the first one.

Jul 8 - 01:12 PM

waggaga1

noel noel

This was obviously made for the money.

Jul 8 - 01:17 PM

Big Mizzle

Michael Towle

Yes as are most movies that are made.

Jul 8 - 01:23 PM

waggaga1

noel noel

You know what I mean, asshole.

Jul 8 - 02:09 PM

Rev Perdue

Rev Perdue

Haha

Jul 8 - 09:05 PM

JohLohB

JohLoh B

Jajaja

Jul 10 - 10:17 PM

bijio

biji badness

haha lighten up, jesus.

Jul 12 - 09:40 PM

Big Mizzle

Michael Towle

Yes as are most movies that are made.

Jul 8 - 01:23 PM

waggaga1

noel noel

You know what I mean, asshole.

Jul 8 - 02:09 PM

Rev Perdue

Rev Perdue

Haha

Jul 8 - 09:05 PM

JohLohB

JohLoh B

Jajaja

Jul 10 - 10:17 PM

bijio

biji badness

haha lighten up, jesus.

Jul 12 - 09:40 PM

Justin D.

Justin D.

Yeah this movie was pretty bad. It had an interesting concept, but it was clear upon watching that money was the ultimate goal of this picture. There was no effort put into the story, or the character development, and even the CG seemed lazy. Jones was phoning in the performance the whole time, which made Will Smith's scenery chewing all the more grating on the nerves. I think I'll pass on the third one. From the sound of things, it might be just as poorly put together as this installment.

Jul 8 - 01:24 PM

Noah James

Noah Kinsey

yup.

Jul 8 - 06:01 PM

Gordon Franklin Terry Sr

Gordon Terry

Right dude . . . Will Smith Chewing-up the Scenery getting on your nerves. "Lazy" CGI. "Who Let the Dogs Out" "Nod ya Head" . . . (again) Men In Black II sounds like it was intended for an Urban (Black) audience. So of course some White Male named Justin living in The Bronx, New York of all places will totally abdicate MEN IN BLACK II. Your use of "lazy" is a Freudian Slip of Black People being "lazy" and of course Black People (like Will Smith's "chewing" of the scenery will get on your nerves because Black People's mannerisms unnerve White People. I KNOW race and ethnocentric beliefs play a part in this overall response to Men in Black II . . . I can feel it.

Jul 9 - 01:14 PM

Justin D.

Justin D.

I know I told you once before that I wouldn't respond to one of your comments after that one time but I will break that promise just this once to inform you that I am, in fact, black. How you somehow thought you could deduce the ethnicity of a person you've never met, spoken to, or seen a picture of is beyond me. You are a weirdo, and based off of your comments I think their may very well be something psychologically wrong w/ you. I would like it very much if you wouldn't comment on anything I post again. Of course I cannot stop you, but for future reference, know I will ignore any comment you make.

Jul 10 - 02:47 PM

Justin D.

Justin D.

That should read "there may..." I really need an editor.

Jul 10 - 02:48 PM

RandomTron

Oh One

Don't really post comments, but I'm also a black dude and I hate this movie. None of my black friends like this movie, and thinking that a goofy version of Will Smith is a direct representation of an entire race is bull****. If you were talking about Morgan Freeman or Denzel Washington I wouldn't mind. If we were talking about Bad Boys, Ali, or even Independence Day, I wouldn't mind but the beat boxing, "Talk to the Hand" Will Smith of MIB 2?! WTF?! No.

I'm going to ignore your use of the word "urban" in reference to black people as if Hispanics, Latinos, Asians, and White people were incapable of having hood mannerisms and being ghetto fabulous.

Stop.

Jul 11 - 12:25 AM

Lenny M.

Lenny Monroe

I'm Black, and this movie was not that good. Period.

Jul 14 - 01:45 PM

Lenny M.

Lenny Monroe

Hey guys which 1 do you think is worse? Men in Black 2 compared to MIB2, or Spider Man 3 compared to SM2?

Jul 14 - 01:47 PM

Superzone

Link O'Fett

MIB II isn't as bad as people say.

Jul 8 - 01:24 PM

Noah James

Noah Kinsey

I think it's not "bad" as much as wasted potential. Similar to how your parents would feel if you quit being a successful brain surgeon to work as a rodeo clown. You could be regarded as the world's BEST rodeo clown, but you still gave up your natural gift of helping people medically.

Jul 8 - 05:11 PM

Justin D.

Justin D.

I think it's bad because the movie is ultimately incomplete. It was half a concept, thrown together as quickly - and sloppily - as possible to get it out in time for the summer. "Let's take the story from MiB and change a couple of plot device's names," is what I believe the pitch for this movie went like. It was lazy, I guess is what my point is. Lazy and soulless.

Jul 8 - 08:09 PM

Sputnik99

sputnik 99

I was greatly disappointed by MIB 2. It felt kind of like Ghostbusters 2, being that it had all the same ingredients as its predecessor, but the flavor was completely different.

Jul 8 - 01:38 PM

Frisby2007

Frisby 2007

I honestly don't know what's so bad about this movie. Sure it isn't as good as the first one, but seeing how much hate it has makes me wonder what's so bad about it.

Jul 8 - 01:50 PM

Anthony B.

Anthony Bois

I think it's because people cannot watch a sequel without comparing it with the first one. They can't say the movie is good because the first one was way better, and so they directly put it in the bad movies section. Because people are dumb, you know.

Jul 10 - 02:12 AM

Frisby2007

Frisby 2007

Well said.

Jul 10 - 06:29 PM

greg b.

greg baltzer

I remember falling asleep in the theater during the movie and not caring.

Jul 8 - 02:06 PM

otis melacline

otis malerbit

Lucky, I stayed awake and watched the whole thing.

Jul 10 - 07:50 AM

waggaga1

noel noel

You know what I mean, asshole.

Jul 8 - 02:09 PM

Rev Perdue

Rev Perdue

Haha

Jul 8 - 09:05 PM

JohLohB

JohLoh B

Jajaja

Jul 10 - 10:17 PM

bijio

biji badness

haha lighten up, jesus.

Jul 12 - 09:40 PM

King  S.

King Simba

It's okay, has a few laughs and the chemistry between Smith and Jones is still there and so are all the weird aliens, yet it's pretty much the same as the original, except weaker in every regard. Even the special effects I thought were weaker in MIB2, despite having twice the budget of the original.

Jul 8 - 02:16 PM

iakobos

J Taylor

I wouldn't say I hate this movie but after the quality of the first one MIBII was a definite let down.

Jul 8 - 02:22 PM

Jamie Chan

Jamie Chang

I just thought it was a really unnecessary sequel. The first one had a perfect ending that was inexcusably picked up.

Jul 8 - 03:14 PM

The.Watcher

The Watcher

I fucking hated this one, and I'm really dreading the third part.

Jul 8 - 03:44 PM

Lion O

Larry Oliver

they need to reboot this whole thing and make it more crime noir, less dumb comedy

Jul 8 - 04:14 PM

Noah James

Noah Kinsey

Isn't that called "Alien Nation"?

Jul 8 - 05:08 PM

Noah James

Noah Kinsey

You know, I didn't think it was horrible at the time. I just remember the credits rolling, thinking "wait...that's it? Didn't the movie JUST start?" It almost felt like everyone in the cast AND writing team had sequel clauses - an when the studio exercised them, the whole team decided to knock out an "acceptable" installment as soon as they could, then move on with their lives.

Sometimes, the pacing of movies is brisk due to sharp editing, but this felt like you were on the Universal Studios cart tour - where you see from a distance the landmarks, but the guide won't let you get out and explore them. Every plot point generated a pinch of interest only to have editor say, "nope. we are moving to the next part now."

Lara Flynn Boyle took that part at the height of the media saying she never ate - so her character consumed everything. That's not the first time any movie has been meta, but that's the first time I can remember a non-funny meta joke.

Johnny Knoxville was trying to get into the movie industry at the time, and it's sad to watch this because you get the feeling he wasn't told ahead of time that no one else really cared to put any honest effort into this.

RT Ryan - Maybe the reason that you didn't mind it the first time was due to the years gap between movies. When you saw II a few years after I, watching it was a refresher on that world. However, watching them back-to-back like you guys have, it's hard not to see the stark difference in delivery. Does that make sense?

Jul 8 - 05:07 PM

RT-Ryan

RT-Ryan .

That's very possible Noah. Watching the two movies back-to-back within days really does highlight the flaws of the second installment in spectacular fashion. But honestly, even if the first film never existed, there were so many problems with this one that it would be a pretty bad standalone movie on its own.

Jul 8 - 05:45 PM

Noah James

Noah Kinsey

Isn't that called "Alien Nation"?

Jul 8 - 05:08 PM

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