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Movie Review

Once again, it’s up to members of a secret, sharply dressed government agency known as the MIB to thwart alien scum and save earth’s bacon. A quarter-century ago, a Zarthinian queen desperate to protect her people’s power source appealed to the Men in Black to hide her "light" on earth, thus keeping it out of the hands of Serleena, an evil, hydra-like she-creature bent on stealing it and using it to dominate the universe (don’t you hate it when that happens?). To complicate matters further, if the light is still on earth when the clock strikes twelve—Eastern Standard Time, of course—our planet will disappear from most intergalactic road maps. The MIB must stop Serleena, find the light and send it into orbit.

This film marks the return of Agents J and K. Five years have passed since their last adventure. No longer wet behind the ears, the street-smart J can’t seem to keep a partner. It may be that he misses K, who had his memory erased at the end of the first film and has since become employed by the U.S. Postal Service. But his naïve civilian life is about to end. The MIB needs his help. It turns out K was part of the Zarthinian detachment of ’78 and is the only one who knows where the light is. With the help of old friends and a pretty murder witness named Laura, J and K set out to save mankind before time runs out.

positive elements: The anonymous agents of MIB make supreme sacrifices to serve humanity. They give up the basic privileges the rest of us enjoy, such as the chance to have a family. It’s shown to be a thankless job (you can’t be a beloved hero if no one knows you exist). And they put their lives in danger on a regular basis. These characters and others act on behalf of the greater good. When a family is neuralized (i.e., their memory of MIB activity is erased), they are told while entranced that they should love and cherish each other for the rest of their lives.

spiritual content: Like the first film, the sequel ends with an image suggesting that our world is just a miniscule part of an extraordinarily large and heavily populated reality. However, apart from an alien responding to a sneeze with "God bless you," there’s no indication that the multi-level universe these characters inhabit is controlled by an omnipotent—much less loving or personal—God. Tiny, rat-like creatures worship MIB agents who give them glow-in-the-dark wristwatches.

sexual content: A miniature civilization contained in a train locker includes a triple X-rated porn shop. Worm-like critters lust over Laura. A piece of crushed-velvet artwork shows a woman’s barely covered breasts. When the shape-shifting Serleena lands on earth, she sees a scantily clad model in a lingerie ad and proceeds to assume that form, dressed only in lacy underwear. Several shots show quite a bit of cleavage. It is implied that K may have fathered a child with an alien. An attempted rape is thwarted. Zed recalls an escapade involving the Kama Sutra and intertwined bodies.

violent content: J and K get battered and almost devoured by a giant worm that lives in New York’s underground rail system. The beast takes several bites out of a subway train (no fatalities). This is just the first of many violent battles between the MIB and troublemaking aliens. Serleena casually turns planets into space dust, and "zaps" a rival alien, leaving only rubbery skin for a corpse. She attacks her prey with a slithering mass of vine-like tendrils that protrude from her body and bind her enemies (they also invade people’s ears, nostrils, etc.). Alien bounty hunters track down K and beat up J, practically breaking him in half. Zed and Serleena duke it out. Jeebs, the slimy little pawn shop owner with the head that grows back, has his dome blown away on separate occasions by both K and J. A mugger attacks the half-dressed Serleena and drags her behind some bushes at knife-point, only to have her devour him and vomit him back out (implied). Despite being disintegrated by a huge gun, Serleena regenerates and must be brought down again. In a flashback, a woman is shot. K punches J. Friendly worm aliens get sliced in half, but survive.

crude or profane language: Dialogue includes sexual innuendo and crass comments about anal probes, urinating in a sink, pornography, etc. An obnoxious pug asks guys "how it’s hangin’." There are approximately 25 mild profanities.

drug and alcohol content: The pug and his wormy pals smoke cigars and drink martinis.

other negative elements: After kicking a nasty Ballchinian in the groin with no success, an agent is reminded of the location of the creature’s testicles, which are shown dangling from its chin. Postal employees are once again belittled. A group of these faithful civil servants is shown to be otherworldly and J says, "Just about everyone who works at the post office is an alien" (for the record not everyone at the post office is part of an alien conspiracy—just the people who keep raising the price of first-class stamps).

conclusion: Men in Black II is a fun ride at times. Cool action. Interesting creatures. Some humorous moments. And the most innovative use of Lady Liberty’s torch ever in a sci-fi sequel. It’s impossible for MIIB to match the sheer novelty of its predecessor, but considering how much of a letdown it could have been, the sequel holds up pretty well on an entertainment level. Content is another matter. Parents who felt comfortable letting teens see the original Men in Black will be glad to know that this summer’s follow-up doesn’t push the envelope in any radical new directions. It’s more of the same. Conversely, families who objected to the profanity, violence and sexual innuendo of the first film will want to pass on this one, too. If audiences could just be "neuralized" so they wouldn’t remember those unfortunate moments, this would be a great popcorn flick.

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Will Smith as Agent J; Tommy Lee Jones as Agent K; Lara Flynn Boyle as Serleena; Rip Torn as Zed; Johnny Knoxville as Scrad/Charlie; Rosario Dawson as Laura; Tony Shalhoub as Jeebs; Patrick Warburton as Agent T


Barry Sonnenfeld ( )


Columbia Pictures



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Bob Smithouser

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