Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Film Pulse Score: 6.5/10
As widely loved as Men in Black became after it was released in 1997, Men in Black 2 ruined nearly all of that goodwill and the franchise vanished, never to be seen again…or so we thought. Ten years later we have Men in Black 3, and the most common reaction to its presence seems to be “why?”
Luckily, while the movie doesn’t return to the heights of the original, it is a marked improvement over the sequel, fueled by the brilliant performance of Josh Brolin.
Brolin, playing a younger version of Tommy Lee Jones Agent K, channels Jones’ vocal inflections and physical mannerisms so well that even if the rest of the movie was completely worthless, Men in Black 3 would be worth seeing just for him alone.
Fortunately, the movie surrounding Brolin is decent, if not great. Will Smith is back as Agent J, and although he does seem to be sleepwalking through some of the scenes, he has a couple of moments that remind us why he is the biggest movie star in the world. Jones’ role is akin to an extended cameo, but his presence is a comfort.
The plot has its problems, though. Time travel is a tricky thing to pull off. It’s probably no coincidence that time-travel is used more successfully in sci-fi comedies (Back to the Future and Star Trek IV as examples), because using it often so many plot holes that can pull people out of the movie, and those “mistakes” are often more forgiven when the film makes us laugh.
The same thing is in play here. The entire plot is based around such a huge plot hole, that had it been present in a drama the movie would have immediately fallen apart. Here, though, because of the absurdity of everything else, we are willing to shrug it off and have fun.
And believe me, Men in Black 3 is fun, even if it’s not as funny as we’d expect. Whether it’s Brolin doing his Jones impression, Smith dealing with a couple of racist cops or Jermaine Clement chewing up the scenery as the film’s villain, there is a sense of light-hearted craziness here that was severely lacking from Men in Black II.
And despite all this, the film is able to add-on a rather poignant, surprising ending that becomes surprisingly emotional and successfully deepens the relationship between J and K, bringing the trilogy full circle.
Men in Black III is definitely not a great film, but it’s a lot of fun, something that is never a given during the summer popcorn movie season. It won’t stick with you, but you’ll enjoy yourself while you’re there.