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"'Men in Black' Delivers Message with Humor"
by Michael Halm
"Remember who you are" is the main message of the Men in Black sequel, and a good one for life, but there is a lot of fun along the way in the way the film delivers it. Reviewers who expressed being disappointed by it seem to have missed the deeper humor in this movie.
As Terry Lawson put it in the Detroit Free Press "MIIB prefers gags that take a second or two to absorb but stick around the cerebrum a lot longer." Paul Clinton of CNN called it smart and witty. Mary F. Pols of Contra Costra Times called it "solid, contemporary American humor, which is to say, cynical on topics from global warming to the vagaries of the postal system."
J finds his newest partner disappointing when he does not do so and makes the nearly fatal mistake of trying to pick a "flower" out of a grating. His next partner, agent F, may look good in a custom-made black suit, but cannot seem to control his mouth. He does however surprisingly use the b-word correctly.
K who had his mind wiped at the end of MIB I has found his new life disappointing. He describes it as "sleeping late on the weekends and watching the weather channel." His long-lost love did not love him long and he is now playing badly the role of a Truro, Mass., postal worker. The contrast between the man-in-black K we remember and the man in gray shorts, Kevin, is humorous, yet we know he is destined for much greater things, just as we know that there must be some other than obvious explanation for smoke coming from the mail sorting machine.
Some inside jokes can be found on the official website, which like J has its own alien identifier. The large headed Cerebrans are, for example, the ones who gave us the Afro wig. "Joey", the thick-lipped, hairless Xysian was formerly with the Standing Stones rock
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band. As Steve Rhode's advices on his review website, "Let the good times roll as aliens of all shapes and sizes entertain you.", like the alien that operates an upper torso tentacle-puppet.
Serleena the Kylothian's spaceship bears a more than co-incidental resemblance to that described by Joseph Blumeridge in the UFO classic, Ezekiel's Spaceship, based on Ezekiel chapter 1. She assumes a persona as different as conceivable from the Edgar suit used by the giant cockroach that ate K. She does so, not insignificantly, from the bottom up however so that just before being fully transformed, so that she resembles Medusa, the snake-haired Gorgon killed by Perseus in Greek mythology.
K has an accident at MIB headquarters that reminds one of the accidental discovery of flubber in the original "Absent-minded Professor". J and K escape the takeover of the headquarters via Flushing, N. Y. But agent M is helpful to Zed.
Some of the alien criminals that Serleena recruits are interesting, if comicbookish. Shark Mouth the Crolaxian for example was arrested for threatening New Englanders by impersonating a shark, Dog Poop the Gurgean for just stinking in public..
The plot thickens when Rita the woman J decided NOT to neuralize is threatened and taken to the Worm Guys' not-so-safe safe house. Their cell phone commercial line, "That's going to smart." makes a lot more sense after the events that take place there.
The clues lead eventually to Newton morgue attendant turned video store owner and the climax line, "It was raining." that restores K's memory -- and heartbreak.
Looking up into the sky K and Rita gaze on the three stars of Orion's Belt, the cryptic
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key to the first movie, just as J recognizes the key to second. Lady Liberty plays a part again as she did in the "Ghostbusters" sequel's ending.
The new New York City skyline itself, filled with Fourth-of-July premier fireworks, has to move every American, every freedom-loving person in the world. Knowing that they re-shot the World Trade Center scene after the tragedy of 9-11 makes it ever so much more meaningful.
Mike La Salle wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle that it was "in every way an improvement on the original." and Mike McGranaghan of Aisle Seat called it "the rare sequel that makes me yearn for a Part III."
Victoria Alexander of filmsinreview.com most valued what she called the "philosophical visual coming right at the end". It was completely missed by many reviewers just as they had the first film's galactic game of marbles. We are warriors against extraterrestrial, superhuman evil in a war vaster than we can imagine -- and yet love, true self-sacrificial love, not only survives but triumphs, always has and always will.