By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) -
You couldn’t have made up a more unnecessary feeling and red flag waving production than MIB III if you tried. The second one was pretty bad and didn’t seem like it demanded a follow-up, especially one ten years later. From the start, there were problems. Will Smith was displeased with the script, and demanded rewrites when he wasn’t busy angering people with his massive trailer. The script wasn’t even done when shooting started, which is never a good sign, and the production budged ballooned to $215 million, which is nearly as much as either of the first two movies made domestically.
Thankfully, they didn’t go with the first title, Men in Black on Mars
Well, despite it all, it appears they did find a story worth telling. A harrowing alien supervillain, Boris the Animal (Jermaine Clement) escapes from prison and vows to revenge himself on the man who put him there and took his arm- Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones). To do this he goes back in time to team up with his younger self and kill K once and for all. Agent J (Will Smith) must travel to the past himself and team up with a younger K (Josh Brolin) to prevent this, and by extension save the world from an invasion of Boris’s race.
If you’re old enough to remember the last two fondly (and if you’re of drinking age- you should be) then be prepared for a hearty dose of nostalgia. Will Smith shows why he’s still one of the most magnetic personalities on Earth, and Tommy Lee Jones is as hilariously gruff as always. There’s action and crazy alien costuming as always, and Clement undergoes an absolutely amazing transformation into his supremely nasty and skin-crawling character.
For some reason, adding aNew Zealand accent to this is oddly appropriate
The highlight of the acting, though, is Josh Brolin, who absolutely inhabits the personality of Tommy Lee Jones. The look of the movie is as slick as you’d hope 215 million bones would buy, and in some cases, particularly the sun-drenched 60s set-pieces, positively beautiful. However, the reason why MIB III not only justifies its own existence, but actually eclipses its predecessors, is its heart. Michael Stuhlbarg does a great job playing a sweet tempered alien who can see multiple realities at once (and who cleverly jumbles audience expectations several times) and Smith and Jones make you believe in their friendship, warts and all. An emotional wallop of an ending both brings everything around to the beginning and sends the series out with perhaps its best scene.
It’s not all smooth sailing. Everything feels just a bit off at first, especially Will Smith inhabiting a wisecracking, irreverent persona he hasn’t since… Hitch maybe? That rights itself eventually, and the jokes get progressively better, but there’s enough duds that you might want something sippable handy.
Of course The Factory was full of aliens. Of course.
Against all odds, Men in Black III delivers a sweet, engaging story that perfectly supports all of that popcorny summer blockbuster goodness. Well worth seeking out.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time Will Smith makes a bizarre face
Take a Drink: every time Boris the Animal shows his teeth
Take a Drink: every time Josh Brolin nails a signature Tommy Lee Jones delivery
Take a Drink: every time someone mentally or physically travels in time