Plot: Jay (Will Smith) has embraced his role as an operative for the Men in Black, but he hasn’t been able to find himself a proper partner. Since Kay (Tommy Lee Jones) retired, Jay has gone through a revolving door of various partners, none of whom could fill the role of his mentor and former partner. But he is still one of the best agents around, so he closes cases, tracks down criminals, and saves the world, all on a pretty regular basis these days. His latest assignment is an alien on alien murder, which turns out to have connections to an event decades earlier, in which an alien relic was taken off the planet and sparked an extensive hunt. Now the alien that was prevented from claiming the relic is back and is convinced the relic is still on this planet, but if that is true, it needs to be transported or the world will be annihilated. But Jay can’t crack this case alone and the one man who holds all the answers is his old friend Kay, who is now a postal worker with an erased memory…
Entertainment Value: The original Men in Black was a fun ride, a good blend of brisk humor, impressive special effects, and popcorn sci/fi set pieces. This sequel jumps the tracks however, opting to focus on a bigger, but not better approach that jettisons a lot of what made the original so much fun. I think some of my distaste for this movie leans on how Smith is pushed into the lead role, instead of the comic relief sidekick. He does what he always does, a loud and obnoxious performance, but since it is the center of the movie this time around, it grates even more than before. Once Jones settles into the story, things pick up, as he is able to balance out Smith’s presence, but the focus is clearly on Smith with Jones as a backup in this one. Lara Flynn Boyle is super hot here, but doesn’t do much with her performance, while Johnny Knoxville stinks up the movie with a bad, cringe worthy effort. I also think the movie tries to push too much on some of the smaller elements from the original that connected with fans, like the pug and the break room aliens. These were fun little moments in the first movie, but stretched thin here and lose some of the appeal. Some of the new aliens are interesting, such as the world inside the locker, but some come off as rushed, fodder type creations. I was a little surprised about how well the original Men in Black held up, but this sequel doesn’t continue that trend, this is bloated, overproduced popcorn fluff.
No nakedness. This time around, we have a sweet, soft romance that blooms, but no monkey business unfolds. As in the first movie, no real bloodshed, but some gross, drippy alien carnage is unleashed. This one has more of an action movie tone, so the more subtle, gross moments aren’t as common, however. The special effects are one reason this movie fails to live up to the original, as the CGI is a huge step down in both quality and effectiveness. This could be due to less practical elements used, but in truth, I think the CGI is just plain bad here. The scope is huge in some of the scenes and the CGI just struggles, such as in the worm chase opening scene. The entire sequence is so fake, it loses any and all tension or humor, just kind of awkward to watch. The same holds true of Knoxville’s second head, it is so poorly crafted, but it is always in full sight, it just dampens all of those scenes. I don’t know what caused such a massive drop in CGI quality, but it takes a toll on the movie. Smith uncorks a host of one liners, which I didn’t appreciate, but his fans likely did. Jones has some fun lines, while Boyle has some sharp moments of her own, despite a mostly lifeless performance. No real craziness in this one, just popcorn sci/fi by the numbers.
Overall Insanity: 0/10