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Overall Rating

Awesome: 3.57%
Worth A Look: 14.29%
Pretty Bad: 16.07%
Total Crap: 30.36%

4 reviews, 88 user ratings

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Men in Black II
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by Scott Weinberg

"For movies this unredeemingly shitty, we have noone to blame but ourselves."
1 stars

It’s a sadly evident fact that money has long-since replaced artistry as Hollywood’s most important concern...doubly so when discussing Summer Movies. While only a fool would imply that studio execs should ignore the issue of making a profit, it’s a sad state of affairs when a pre-fabricated and soulless husk like Men in Black 2 represents the biggest or best that any particular season has to offer. This is a vapid and uninhabited wasteland of a film, a vacuum in which only a handful of product placements, shoddy CGI effects, and smug actors were ever meant to survive. Call it ‘color by numbers’, ‘filmmaking by committee’, or simply ‘sequel whoring’, but Men in Black 2 is easily one of the most insultingly worthless sequels in years.

Near the end of Men in Black 2, the Tommy Lee Jones character refers to his ‘domestic life’ as “sleeping late on weekends and The Weather Channel”. It’s rare to see such hidden honesty from filmmakers, as now we clearly know how the producers of such worthless tripe really feel about their audience: sheep lined up at the trough. Not one aspect of this film even whispers the word ‘quality’; Men in Black 2 is pure corporate moviemaking at its most mercenary. The term “summer tentpole” means a heck of a lot more to the dedicated beancounters of Hollywood than does the term “well-made movie”. If you haven’t been paying attention to what passes for cinematic entertainment during most summers, here’s how the system works:

1. Plagiarize! - Find an idea that ties into an already existing (and proven to be popular) entity. Novels work fairly well, but remember that summertime movie crowds rarely embrace any film that comes close to being ‘literate’. Even better are movies based on TV shows, comic books, or video games. See, the name is what matters, because hedging your bets is how you make the biggest profit. The sweetest plum of all is to offer a sequel to a previous summertime blockbuster. This works the same way as a Xerox machine; if you leave the original in exactly the same place, the copies will, logically, come out just as successful. So the onus here is clearly on “What will be a recognizable product to the masses?” and not “Hey, I have a very cool idea for a sequel!” Right off the bat, we’re talking about an exchange of goods; your eight bucks for the same damn movie you saw 4 years ago.

2. Re-hire the principals! Nothing has more potential to damage the cashflow than a jarring cast alteration or a new director. This upsets the fans of Product #1. Give these filmmakers whatever they want to recite their insipid dialogue and react bemusedly to the antics of various invisible creatures. Cars, jets, tanks, 20 million bucks, it doesn’t matter. When you’re dealing with a guaranteed moneymaker, let no expense stand in banality’s way. The director, once again, is Barry Sonnenfeld. If set design were the only factor that directors were responsible for, Sonnenfeld would be a quality director. Unfortunately, a director needs to be more a storyteller and less a Sprint Phone positioner/CGI administrator.

3. Cut the budget by 20 percent...or at least try! If the original Men in Black made $250 million on a budget of $95 million, it only takes a mildly intelligent accountant to conclude that a sequel made for $80 million will absolutely gross…$310 million! Or something like that. Bottom line is that sequels get lower budgets simply because they don’t have to try as hard. Case in point will inevitably be Men in Black 2, as I’m certain it will achieve a massive payday despite its being a confusing, grating and altogether unentertaining expenditure of 85 minutes. And if I'm wrong and the sequel cost a lot more than the original? Then shame on everyone involved for delivering such a pathetic end product with that much backing.

4. Ignore the script. You may come out of Men in Black 2 feeling reasonably entertained, but I challenge anyone to exclaim that this is even almost a well-written film. The movie is an hour-and-a-half of barely connected CGI displays punctuated by numerous scenes of ridiculously dreary and redundant plot exposition. When the main characters spend 80% of their dialogue to explain the pointless backstory or to recap what just happened in prior scenes, you’re dealing with a piece of entertainment that was most likely ‘made up as they went along’. The physical gag that got the biggest laughs from the audience involved a creature called a “Ballchinian”. If you can guess where this character gets kicked, you too could be a well-paid Hollywood screenwriter. Plus, I just spoiled what’s probably the only laugh you’ll get from the movie, so didn’t I save you 8 bucks? (All the other potentially amusing bits have been fisted down your throat already via trailers and TV ads.)

5. Sell! Sell! Sell! The least-inspired of the summertime blockbusters often end up as nothing more than an expensive billboard, and Men in Black 2 is not only an exception to that rule, but it may be the new reigning champ. Automobiles, sunglasses, Burger King, Will Smith albums, Playstations, and especially Sprint phones will undoubtedly fill your every day with consumer goodness once Men in Black 2 becomes your new favorite movie. Again, I'm not ignorant to the fact that movies are 'big business', but surely we deserve better than PAYING for the right to see the world's longest - and most obnoxious - Sprint commercial.

Am I being a bit too rough on what is essentially a ‘mindless popcorn flick’? I don’t think so. A movie can be mindless without being insultingly crass, smug and stupid. Sure, I was never a big fan of the original Men in Black, but that movie looks like Blade Runner compared to this fiscally addicted abortion. If ever there were a sequel where the performances alone (indeed the entire witless affair) scream “going through the motions”, this may be the new poster child. To try and detail the plotline, as if this were a movie interested in ‘telling a story’, would be an exercise in tedium. Suffice to say that Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones trade forced banter back and forth (Smith, being an infinitely more expensive movie star, gets most of the movie to himself) while occasionally stopping to do something violently silly to a giant slimy space creature while dropping the lamest puns imaginable onto the computer-generated set. There is some pretense of a plot, in that we get a few villains and a vaguely referenced "narrative" about some interstellar artifact, but since the movie plays like it was edited with a rusty blender, I had a tough time figuring out where the flick was going – and even less time figuring out if I was even interested. (I wasn’t.)

Jones and Smith sleepwalk through the turgid screenplay in the way only a guaranteed contract can facilitate, a few arcane people pop in to earn some cheap “shock laughs” (Oh, look. Michael Jackson. His very presence makes the scene amusing. Same goes for Martha Stewart. Oh my sides.), and the supporting cast is made up of a few ‘recognizable-yet-still-cheap-to-hire’ faces like Lara Flynn Boyle (looking paler than Elsa Lanchester drained of all her blood) and the inexplicably famous Johnny Knoxville (of MTV’s aptly-titled “Jackass”), typecast as an absolute moron with no discernable talent. (My apologies to the Knoxville faithful for not considering ‘vomit eating’ a talent.) Patrick Warburton and David Cross earn a few solid giggles, but since their names aren’t Will Smith, the two reliable character actors are rewarded with exactly one scene apiece.

Men in Black 2 doesn’t need to be ‘deep’ or even an intelligent movie to succeed. It also doesn’t need to be a cookie-cutter, assembly-line vacuum of a film, either. At the very least, it must entertain. Unfortunately, I find it tough to be entertained when I’m being subjected to such a pathetically lazy effort. This movie isn’t exciting or interesting or even funny. (OK, the talking dog was funny when he sang “Who let the dogs out?”, but surely we can rely on network TV commercials to deliver such brilliant comedy, can’t we?) Will Smith is set on a petulant “This is what you get for not liking Ali, everybody” glower (even when delivering his alleged punch lines) and employs a gratingly cocksure sneer throughout the film, and his attitude sums up Men in Black 2 perfectly: “We don’t care if it’s good - just as long as we get the asses in the seats.”

I know it’s not likely, but maybe this time around – people will stop lining up at the same familiar trough. I don’t know if I can withstand a Men in Black 3.

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originally posted: 07/03/02 13:52:47
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User Comments

3/25/18 morris campbell not bad good creatures some funny lines 3 stars
6/04/12 Dane Youssef Should've stopped with the first one. They just wreck it all here. Nearly every scene hurts 1 stars
4/06/12 SEAN DUTRA fine but tedious and rushed and uninspired 3 stars
1/25/11 Jeff Wilder Fantastic concept the first time. This proves it can only be done once. 2 stars
12/26/10 sequelitis This was just pure insipid, uninspired, worthless tripe. An insult to the original! 1 stars
6/09/10 Harvey Scott Why does this exist? They did it for the money! 2 stars
2/20/09 CTT Unenergetic, despite some funny lines 3 stars
10/07/08 Shaun Wallner Awesome Cast!! 5 stars
7/22/08 the dork knight Was Tommy Lee Jones contractually obligated to do this? 2 stars
6/25/07 Anthony Feor I think I might wanna leave this planet now 2 stars
2/16/07 Vip Ebriega Not much of the original, but the duo manages to make it look good. 3 stars
1/31/07 Matt More a reshash than a sequel ant only half as good. But, hey, it ain't that bad. 3 stars
12/26/06 johnnyfog So did Lara Flyn Boyle go away yet? Yes? Oh good. 1 stars
2/07/06 Anthony What a sequel 3 stars
10/27/05 chris apalling sequel puts mib 1 to shame 1 stars
10/16/05 Quigley one of the worst sequels in cinema history. and you people hated the first one? think again 1 stars
9/13/05 Total Crap Want a Review for this movie, read my name. 1 stars
9/13/05 Evan God, this is a really bad, muddled mess. Talk about "over done". 2 stars
3/14/05 Ronin Gibbo the problem is it is almost no fun unlike it's predecessor. 2 stars
2/13/05 John Bale Replay of the original but has some great fun effects and Tommy Lee is good value 4 stars
8/30/04 Gibbo Was a good movie if you didn't take it seriously. It is meant to be fun remember. 4 stars
5/02/04 J Good but not Great! ** 1/2 3 stars
4/29/04 X Another disapointing sequel 2 stars
2/28/04 Littlepurch Nowhere near as good as the original & the ending just made my head hurt but it WAS funny!! 4 stars
2/27/04 sarah knoxville! johnny knoxville is soooo ace in this movie, got it on dvd the day it came out! 5 stars
10/01/03 Samuel Justus Nowhere as good as the origional! 3 stars
7/22/03 I Would Worth watching only to see probably the biggest budgeted film to clock at under 90 minutes 2 stars
6/25/03 the Grinch MIB was entertaining...this insulting garbage just makes me angry...velly angly... 1 stars
5/27/03 bender Should not have made as much money as it did. Bad.......................................... 2 stars
4/08/03 Ian The plot is re-hashed from the first movie. Not good at all. 2 stars
2/04/03 Turtle It doesn't hold a Series 4 De-Atomizer to the original, but hey, it was really fun. 4 stars
1/10/03 Ange Faitore Let's marry Laura and Eminem and set them in a flaming SUV. 1 stars
12/27/02 PsiSeeker Ho-Hum!... at least LFB provides some eyecandy. Will Smith's one liners make me sick! 1 stars
12/17/02 Interrog8 What is this shit?! No comparison to the first one. 1 stars
12/13/02 madk you guys are the biggest negative loosers the world has ever know! 5 stars
12/02/02 palaboy101 The first half was funny, the second half was REALLY BORING! 3 stars
11/02/02 matthew none 4 stars
8/12/02 KMG SUCKED: It had no plot, no storyline, and was too short even if it had the 1st two 1 stars
8/11/02 MackeyDaManiac JustAverage ONLY because of these REALY GREAT special effects,and some funny stuff... 3 stars
8/11/02 chouck yawn 3 stars
8/03/02 pointman7071 ok! 3 stars
7/28/02 Franny Mib was witty and suprising. Its sequal is too similar and predictable. 3 stars
7/28/02 Butterbean It was such a good idea for the movie! Why ruin it with stupid slapstick? I hated them both 2 stars
7/28/02 max zhang I'd rather watch two angry black lesbians rape a skinny white boy than this shit. 1 stars
7/24/02 FJ Didnt that feel nice........ 2 stars
7/12/02 Hotaine I think Tommy Lee Jones is actually dead and they just CGI'd him in 1 stars
7/12/02 Jiz Mediocrity at its best. Boring, predictable, forgettable, not worth seeing 3 stars
7/10/02 Interrog8 Didn't see this coming. Tradgic that a sequal to such a great movie could be this bad. 2 stars
7/10/02 Register to vote NOW or else! It was absurd, but it had its moments... 3 stars
7/09/02 Banky Edwards I didn't think it was that bad, but then what do I know, I laugh at dick & fart jokes! 4 stars
7/09/02 Never see movies twice I was very surprised that a sequel would be so funny Once you go worm ... Hilarious!!! 4 stars
7/09/02 bob stank,another crap movie 2 stars
7/09/02 iambubby Yikes! They missed the mark on this one. 3 stars
7/09/02 Janine Lay pretty boring, no originality, magic is gone 2 stars
7/09/02 daedalus Good enough for a fun night out, but not worth the $7.50 4 stars
7/08/02 FJ It sucked. Didn't expect this. 1 stars
7/08/02 I can't bleive I saw this shit! The worst piece of shit since Scooby-Doo 1 stars
7/07/02 ajay I laughed outloud like once or twice at least Lara Flynn Boyle was hot 2 stars
7/06/02 friscojohn C+..........was hoping for an A 4 stars
7/06/02 Josh Opotzner ( Just ok. If you feel like another movie after Minority Report/Sum of all Fears. 3 stars
7/06/02 Danielle Ophelia (L'Originale) I love Sno-Caps. 3 stars
7/06/02 Philip F Kromer Very enjoyable, but very similar (tho possibly better than the first) 4 stars
7/06/02 B Complete waste of time and money. Not a single laugh. 1 stars
7/06/02 Dr. Laura Is a Bitch (Doo Dah, Doo Dah...) A couple of great movie moments, but otherwise, nothing exciting. 3 stars
7/05/02 Todd I didn't hate it, but I didn't like it either 3 stars
7/05/02 Nick2k wow. this makes 'pearl harbor' look good. fucking waste. i shoulda seen powerpuff instead. 1 stars
7/05/02 Benjamin.Lesbian Entertaining, but it felt more like an episode of a TV show than a full-blown movie 4 stars
7/05/02 strider3700 not exiting not interesting not worth full price, rent or cheap night it's worth it though 3 stars
7/05/02 B Complete waste of time and money. Not a single laugh. 1 stars
7/05/02 Joe Bacon A retread even DUMBER than the original! 1 stars
7/05/02 Gajha Me Runga Kinda funny, but none of the awe or zeal from before. Felt like a quickie mini-episode 4 stars
7/05/02 Blaise Well, it's definately not shakespear, but i wasn't bored either. 3 stars
7/05/02 Roy Smith FX do not a decent film make - wait for the 2nd run theaters, not even worth a matinee. 3 stars
7/05/02 Jim Mediocre. Jones phoned in his performance. Worms didn't live up to hype but the pug did. 3 stars
7/05/02 Butterbean I wanted to like this movie, but they crammed everything into 90 minutes and made a mess! 2 stars
7/04/02 brent young this is taking way too much flak --sure it's mindless & has ads, but it's a popcorn flick. 4 stars
7/04/02 The Spam Handler btw, david cross died in the first one... 3 stars
7/04/02 bullit17 Relied too much on the first movie. Could have been a little more original 3 stars
7/04/02 Jamie Wasn't mind blowing, but compared to the crap released in the past couple years.... 4 stars
7/04/02 Veronica Foxx This wasn't a bad movie, but the same movie. For that it gets knocked down to...---------> 3 stars
7/04/02 J Wasn't quite as good as the original but I'm actually with R.W on this one to be honest. 4 stars
7/04/02 jeenyus It was hardly high art, but I wouldn't call it a miserable waste of a movie either 3 stars
7/04/02 Ramblin' Wreck Looked fine to me...... 4 stars
7/03/02 Reviewing the reviewer Wait, movie 1 good. movie 2 clone of 1. movie 2 bad? Explain how. This one is awesome! 5 stars
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  03-Jul-2002 (PG-13)



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