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Movie Info




July 3, 2002


82 minutes


Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Lara Flynn Boyle, Rosario Dawson, Rip Torn, Tony Shalhoub, Patrick Warburton, Johnny Knoxville, and the voice of Tim Blaney


Barry Sonnenfeld


Columbia Pictures/Sony


Science Fiction/Comedy


Older children to adults


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In providing movie reviews on our site, is not endorsing or recommending films we review. Our goal is to provide Christians with information about the latest movies, both the good and the bad, so that our readers may make an informed decision as to whether or not films are appropriate for them and their families.


Men in Black II

By Movieguide Magazine - Hollywood, please remember that high-concept movies need stories. Men in Black II looks great in the commercials, but it plays like a gargantuan, irreverent dud. The buzz coming out of the screening of critics was "What happened?" The pop question is "Why is this only an 82 minute movie?" The answer is that it doesn't matter how long a movie is or how short if it doesnt have a story to tell.

The opening is very clever. It shows Peter Graves from a black and white television show entitled Mysteries from Space showing a hokey science fiction story about this princess landing on earth to get the help of a super secret society called Men in Black to protect a device, the light of Zartha, that could blow up the universe. As the princess is handing the device to the Men in Black, another alien, who is a pile of veggie snakes named Serleena, an evil Kylothian creature who wants to destroy the princess and her people, lands.

Now, years later, Serleena is racing through the galaxy destroying planets, looking for the light of Zartha. Jay, played with verve by Will Smith, happens upon Serleena's evil plot to destroy the world. The only one who could possibly help him save the world is Agent Kay, played by Tommy Lee Jones, whose memory was erased at the end of the first Men in Black movie. Jay goes to the lowly post office where Kay works, surrounded by aliens disguised as human beings. Jay tries to convince Kay that hes an agent from Men in Black.

By the time they get back to New York, Serleena has already taken over the Men in Black headquarters and has done nasty things to all sorts of people, including Zed, played by Rip Torn. The rest of the movie involves Kay being re-neuralized, finding the Light of Zartha, saving the planet, and sending the princess back home.

Men in Black II is crowded with sight gags, some highly sexual, such as the Ballchinian who clearly has--and we hate to say this--male testicles hanging from his chin, and the worms who dance with the love interest in clearly phallic ways. A few less sight gags may have worked. As it is, the constant violence and sight gags produce an overload.

The real problem with the movie is that the producers did not think through the story. Instead of character development, there is jumping conflict. Kay goes from being de-neuralized to being a super agent in the blink of an eye. The audience knows that once Kay gets his memory back, hes won, so the movie is one long resolution with no sense of jeopardy. All of the plot problems could have been easily fixed in the scriptwriting, and the fixes are so clear that the movie could be used as an example of bad scriptwriting, in the tradition of Mission to Mars, Rocky and Bullwinkle, and A.I. This is disappointing because everybody was looking forward to the movie. When filmmakers find themselves with these problems, they often make the mistake of throwing in more sex and violence to try to fill the plot holes, which is the case here.

The worldview is clearly eclectic. There is a "God bless you", a reference to the occult practice of astrology, and a reference to multiple verses, all treated with irreverence. In addition to this, there are more than 25 obscenities and profanities.

These filmmakers have done some great movies, including Schindler's List and Amistad, but they have also done some clunkers, such Wild Wild West and The Crew (with Richard Dreyfuss). Men in Black II has the same problems that these two latter films had. And this movie needed better writers.

Dont be fooled by the initial popularity of Men in Black II. Like Planet of the Apes, people will come away disappointed.

Please address your comments to:

Amy Pascal, Chairman
Columbia Pictures
John Calley, Chairman/CEO
Sony Pictures Entertainment
10202 West Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232-3195
Phone: (310) 244-4000
Fax: (310) 244-2626
Web Page:

The previous reviews are a selected sample of informative reviews from MOVIEGUIDE: A FAMILY GUIDE TO MOVIES AND ENTERTAINMENT, a syndicated feature of Good News Communications, Inc. To subscribe to MOVIEGUIDE, which includes a complete set of at least 10 reviews of the latest movies as well as many informative articles, please visit their Web site at, or write or call:

P.O. Box 190010
Atlanta, GA 31119
(800) 899-6684

DISCLAIMER: "The publications that carry MOVIEGUIDE and the organizations that distribute MOVIEGUIDE are not responsible for these reviews, nor is MOVIEGUIDE responsible for the opinions and positions of those publications and organizations."

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