Movie Review: Men in Black 3

Sci-fi/Comedy,  110 Minutes, 2012: Men in Black 3 on IMDB

The original “Men in Black” [IMDB] has always been one of my favorite movies.  It was irreverent, bombastic and populated with insanely likable characters.  (It was also based on a comic book – so if you liked it too maybe you should bolster the flagging comic book industry and buy some?)  The effects were bright, innovative and wonderfully cartoonish in all the right ways.  Most of all it was just plain fun.

The second movie had some missteps but was still pretty much on target.  It was gimmicky and tried to replace substance with sex a little too often (although if you’re going to replace substance, sex is a pretty damn good choice) but it presented a convincing continuation of the narrative and was still a fun ride.

Now, 15 years after being introduced to K and J, we get what I truly hope will be the last entry in the franchise (until, of course, there’s a mindless reboot too few years from now).  I hope that this will be the last one because a) this was an exceedingly nice capstone to the story and b) Tommy Lee Jones [IMDB] is just getting way too damn old.

I say this with the utmost respect for his craft, of course.  I adore Tommy Lee Jones.  However consider this for a moment: remember “Space Cowboys” [IMDB]?  In that film Tommy Lee Jones was specifically cast as laughably too old to succeed at a space mission.  That movie was made over a decade ago.  Tommy Lee Jones has not gotten younger since then and in this installment he looks downright cadaverous.  The amount of make-up used on him is simply staggering.

That’s likely why he’s simply not in most of the movie.  Instead, thanks to a fun little time-travel plot, we’re treated to the still-spry thirty-something K played stunningly, amazingly well by Josh Brolin [IMDB].  He really crawled directly into Tommy Lee’s skin for this one.  Will Smith [IMDB] is impossible not to like and apparently doesn’t age (or maybe the real problem in all of this is that Tommy Lee is aging for the both of them?)

The first film dealt primarily with Agent J’s introduction to MIB and here we delve into Agent K’s past (literally) which makes for a very satisfying bookend to the series.  The gags are comfortable, but not tired and the script, like those before it, doesn’t shy away from pulling at the heart-strings now and again.  I honestly really only have two minor complaints:

  • K’s romantic life is more than a little scatter shot.  The first movie set up a soul mate for him, the second dismissed her with almost no comment and this one half-asses a new love interest.  K deserves better, guys.
  • Where’s David Cross?  His cameos in the first two were absolute highlights.  (For that matter J went back to 1969 Manhattan – how about a Jon Hamm/John Slatterly cameo?  That would have been mind-blowingly awesome.)

That’s pretty much all the bad I have to say.  Fans of the previous installments aren’t going to have any complaints and everybody else isn’t going to find any reason for this one to change their minds.  This is a solid, heartfelt ending to an excellent franchise and a hell of a lot of fun all by itself.

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