What a testimony to the diminished quality of the films these days that I was actually pleased not to hate “Men in Black 3,” the latest nothing-special entry into what has always been a nothing-special franchise. A game Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones return as the title characters, and in what should’ve been a much more entertaining time travel storyline, Josh Brolin is also added to the mix.
The story isn’t exactly entertaining. It is passable though; a perfectly fine and inoffensive time killer. But if you love the franchise, you’ll be very satisfied with this latest chapter, which is much better than that first bloated sequel. The filmmakers worked hard to add some warmth and humanity to this chapter, which is appreciated.
What you like best about the series returns: big budget special effects, plenty of creepy and imaginative aliens, along with the use of this secret alien population here on Earth to explain what we find inexplicable — like why we can’t use electronics on airplanes. But the worst also returns: mainly sitcom-level dialogue and jokes, an uninspired plot, and Will Smith lazily coasting on his “Aww hawl naw” screen persona. Jones isn’t much better. Brolin’s a stand out, though, for reasons I won’t ruin.
The movie looks great, especially the trip back to Mad Men Land, and I am interested enough in how things wrapped up to take another look at the previous films to see if all the pieces fit. Regardless, the sequel no one wanted will probably beget a sequel no one wanted.
Whatever you do, however, don’t miss the racial-profiling joke. That alone is worth the price of a rental. And there’s no question the kids will love every minute.
“Men In Black 3″ is available for purchase at Amazon.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC