2002 Running time: 88 Certificate: pg Rating: 3

Synopsis

Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones don the dark suits a second time for a sequel that sticks to the original, highly amusing template. Since their previous outing, world-weary agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) has hung up his unfeasibly large and shiny gun and now works for the US postal service in a New England backwater. In his absence, former protege and wisecracking alien-busting Agent J (Will Smith) has risen up the ranks to become a respected operative. However, he is poised to face his toughest challenge yet - evil extraterrestrial Serleena (Lara Flynn Boyle) has touched down on Earth and is determined to wreak monstrous mayhem.

Director

  • Barry Sonnenfeld

Cast

  • Will Smith

  • Tommy Lee Jones

  • Lara Flynn Boyle

  • Johnny Knoxville

  • Rip Torn

  • Rosario Dawson

Review

The advertising tagline reads 'Same planet, different scum'. What you get is essentially the same movie but a slightly different plot.

This is no surprise - the original blockbuster relied on one joke (albeit a good one) - but the sequel was always going to be a test of the ingenuity of Sonnenfeld to follow-up his runaway 1997 success.

Predictably, he has stuck with the tried and tested - but there is enough inventive flair and witty dialogue to make it a winning variation on a theme.

Since their last outing, world-weary agent Kay (Lee Jones) has hung up his unfeasibly large and shiny gun and now works for the US postal service in a New England backwater.

In his absence, former protege and wisecracking agent Jay (Smith) has risen up the ranks to become a respected operative for the alien-busting Men In Black.

However, he is poised to face his toughest challenge yet - evil Kylothian Serleena (Boyle) has touched down on Earth and is determined to wreak monstrous mayhem.

Taking on the shape and form of a lingerie model (she was inspired by an advert for risque boutique Victoria's Secret), she can also throw out a writhing mass of killer tentacles at will.

After hooking up with half-witted but two-headed accomplice Scrad (Johnny Knoxville) she is soon striking terror in the heart of MIB, the covert government organisation charged with weeding out troublesome aliens.

There is only one person who knows the secret of Serleena's mission - former agent Kay. So Jay is ordered to return him to the MIB fold. The only trouble is he has been 'neutralized' and remembers nothing of his former life.

Because most movie-goers will be familiar with the basic MIB premise, this relies on a series of imaginative setpieces to engage audiences.

There's a spectacular subterranean maggot which happily munches on entire subway trains. "We've got a bug in the electrical system," understates Jay after failing to take it out.

Another fine scene is the game of Twister enjoyed by Laura (Rosario Dawson) with a bunch of slacker worms whose idea of a good night is sipping a vodka martini to the strains of the Tijuana Brass.

Smith and Lee Jones work well together and the narrative only really takes off when Kay is back in the saddle with Jay and assuming control of the situation.

Sonnenfeld concedes the pairing is what provides the thrust to the franchise. As Smith comments: 'Kay makes Jay.'

However, when he adds, 'Without Abbott there is no Costello,' he does his stars a disservice. Lee Jones and Smith are actually funny.

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