Wednesday, July 03, 2002

Men in Black II (IMDB) (Netflix)
Director and former cinematographer Barry Sonnenfeld has come a long way since Penny Marshall tried to fire him off of "Big," and even further from his days of paying the bills by shooting porno films. Will Smith ("J") and Tommy Lee Jones ("K") are back, as is Rip Torn ("Zed"), the worm guys, Frank the Pug and Tony Shaloub as the slimeball whose head grows back. Lara Flynn Boyle (Jack's girlfriend in real life--yes, him) is the one-woman axis of alien evil, and emerging ingénue Rosario Dawson is the girl in jeopardy and the object of J's affection.

The crowd was delighted by a constant barrage of action, gags and quips, and the MIB franchise remains fresh, because the movie stays locked onto its mission of fast-and-sly entertainment. Will Smith can do this in his sleep after carrying the whole load in Ali, and the rest of the cast pretty much holds up its end, although Dawson's part is under-written, giving her little to do except look winsome. Summer ephemera at its best.