Friday, June 1, 2012

Men In Black III

2012, 106 min. PG-13
IMDB says... Agent J travels in time to MIB's early years in the 1960s, to stop an alien from assassinating his friend Agent K and changing history.

The 73rd Virgin says... Boomer Humor comes to the fore.

Based on my scientific survey of my Mom's tastes, the MIB franchise fan base trends a little older than most summer blockbuster fare. Tommy Lee Jones is a bit of a Bogart throw-back with his taciturn delivery and restrained tough-guy mannerisms. I think Mom even saw No Country For Old Men, not exactly a grandma movie, because he was in it. And let's face it; Will Smith is pretty non-threatening, even as Muhammed Ali.

Here, Jones doesn't have that much to do but deliver his trademark unblinking single-take until the plot can deliver Josh Brolin as the younger Agent K. And Brolin is hilarious. The advertisements of Brolin delivering Jone's lines were enough to get me to see this in a theater.

I was worried in the first 10 minutes because there were continuity problems with the guards who are supposed to be escorting the bad guy, Boris the Animal, through the moon-based prison (Oh God, not another space prison) in that the guards kept changing with each camera angle, and the sound mix sounded bad and dubbed. But that cleared up, and after a few episodic sequences Agent J has to follow Boris back in time to stop him killing Agent K.

Emma Thompson (she also cameo'd in Smith's "I Am Legend) as Agent O is a bit wasted and, unlike Brolin, her 1969 version doesn't share any speech patterns or physical mannerisms with her older self. Seems like a lost opportunity.

There is a very funny sequence as Smith's time jump requires him to literally jump from the Chrysler building, I think, and as he falls he passes dinosaurs, suicidal stock brokers from 1929, etc.

So now we're in 1969 and there are vague references to Boris killing a series of aliens beginning with a fortune teller on Coney Island and then someone at "The Factory". Now I'm an old hipster and made the mental link between New York in 69 and "The Factory" and to Andy Warhol and The Velvet Underground, etc., but I'm wondering how many teens and young adults from Peoria would find any of it funny or any more than confusing and obtuse. There is even a fairly obscure Rolling Stones oddity "2000 Light Years From Home" on the soundtrack.

The producers cover their bases somewhat by having Bill Hader in prosthetic chin and nose and grey fright-wig as Warhol. And for once Hader uses a voice and mannerisms different from his somewhat repetitive SNL persona. His Warhol whisper is pretty much perfect.

There is plenty of Smith and Brolin's funny repartee, some predictable action sequences, a sweet if abrupt ending that my wife saw coming but I didn't, and all wrapped up in one hour and forty-six minutes. Not wasted money or time.

Ebert says director Barry Sonnenfield shed tears of relief when he heard Brolin mimic Jones' voice.

The IMDB trailer is way better than the YouTube trailer - which includes a scene not even the friggin' movie - but IMDB can't be embedded in a blog apparently. So here.

Also YouTube's.

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