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May 26, 2012 | 9:16 a.m. CST
The men in black are back. However, the overwhelming question audiences may be asking is “Why?” It’s been a full decade since Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones suited up in the critically panned Men in Black II. Surprisingly, Men in Black 3, directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, is more like the original than its underwhelming sequel. That’s right, that means no talking dogs in this film.
The plot centers on Smith’s Agent J traveling through time to 1969 to save his partner, Agent K (Jones), and the world. Agent K’s would-be killer is another time-traveler, a revenge-seeking-alien convict by the name of Boris the Animal, played by a completely transformed Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords.Related Movie
One of the highlights of the film is Josh Brolin’s performance as the younger version of Agent K. An example of perfect casting if there ever was one, Brolin slides into the suit and Jones’s blank, gruff manner with ease.
Indeed, the film only really begins to pick up steam when the time traveling begins and Brolin is introduced. The beginning is comprised of much of the same, tired, alien jokes as the second movie, the only bright spot being the over-the-top Boris. Emma Thompson’s role as the new head honcho of M.I.B., Agent O, is almost a non-entity. However, this is more the fault of the screenwriter than the actress.
Her lack of a role is made up for by the lovable, neurotic Griffin, an alien played by Michael Stuhlbarg. Griffin and his ability to see multiple outcomes makes for some funny and sweet moments as he helps Agent J on his mission in the past.
While the beginning may be worth skipping, once the film gets back on its feet with an enjoyably ridiculous plot and charming performances it reignites some of the playful spirit of the original.
Vox Rating: VVV