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Men in Black
This imaginative summer comedy from director Barry Sonnenfeld (Get Shorty) is a lot of fun, largely on the strength of Will Smith's engaging performance as the rookie partner of a secret agent (Tommy Lee Jones) assigned to keep tabs on Earth-dwelling extraterrestrials. There's lots of comedy to spare in this bright film, some of the funniest stuff found in the margins of the major action. (A scene with Smith's character being trounced in the distance by a huge alien while Jones questions a witness is a riot.) The inventiveness never lets up, and the cast--including Vincent D'Onofrio doing frighteningly convincing work as an alien occupying a decaying human--hold up their end splendidly.--Tom Keogh
Men in Black II
More remake than sequel, Men in Black II safely repeats everything that made Men in Black the blockbuster hit of 1997. That's fine if you loved the original's fresh humour, weird aliens and loopy ingenuity, but as sequels go, it's pure déjà vu. Make-up wizard Rick Baker is the only MIB alumnus who's trying anything new, while director Barry Sonnenfeld and costars Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones (as alien-fighting agents Jay and Kay, respectively) are on autopilot with an uninspired screenplay. The quest of a multi-tentacled alien--on Earth in the form of Lara Flynn Boyle--for the light of Zartha requires Jay to deneuralize Kay, whose restored memory contains the key to saving the planet. The tissue-thin premise allows all varieties of special effects--mostly familiar, with some oddly hilarious new stuff tossed in for good measure. Certainly enjoyable as a popcorn distraction, but the MIB magic has worn a bit thin. --Jeff Shannon