When devious alien Boris (Jemaine Clement) escapes from prison on the moon (!), with the intention of killing arch-nemesis Agent K of the Men in Black (Tommy Lee Jones). To do this, he apparently has to travel back in time to 1969. Meanwhile, through some idiotic chocolate milk-drinking plot contrivance, Agent J (Will Smith) is his usual smart-arse self, whilst everything else around him has changed, including the death of his partner. His only solution is to travel back in time himself, hook up with the 1969 Agent K (played by a grimacing Josh Brolin) to try and save him from the death that has already happened, and has yet to happen. I think. Emma Thompson and Alice Eve play the older and younger versions of Agent O.
The 1997 original disappointed the hell out of me. I thought with Will Smith in the lead it’d be something closer to “Independence Day” meets “Ghostbusters”, a mainstream blockbuster, but hopefully a good one. However, in the hands of director Barry Sonnenfeld it proved more “Alien” meets Sonnenfeld’s “The Addams Family”, a quirkier film that didn’t entertain or amuse me in the slightest (I can understand why many people loved the very things that failed to appeal to me, though). The aliens in particular were elaborate but ugly and uninteresting creations by the overrated Rick Baker (“An American Werewolf in London”, “The Nutty Professor”), and Will Smith’s title song is still enormously overrated as it was back in 1997. The pug was great, though. The second film was even worse (so was Will Smith’s irritating title song), and now the seemingly absent for a few years Sonnenfeld is back for a third time with this 2012 offering (yes, a whopping ten years after the previous film). Scripted by Etan Cohen (the hilarious “Tropic Thunder”), it’s more of the same, only even worse, deadeningly slow, and with no Frank the pug. Sorry, but I’m just not on this series’ wavelength at all. I’ve always wanted to be, but I’m not.
The supposed jewel in this film’s crown is a time-travel plot that allows Josh Brolin to apparently mimic stony-faced Tommy Lee Jones, as his younger self. Unfortunately, Brolin does almost as shitty a Tommy Lee Jones impersonation as he does a George Dubya Bush impersonation. For starters, he’s not aping Jones, he’s just repeating his George Dubya Bush impersonation. Occasionally he’ll pull a facial expression a little like Jones, but he sounds nothing like him. As this film and the overrated “Face/Off” prove, actors mimicking other actors doesn’t tend to work well unless you’re Kevin Spacey on “Inside the Actor’s Studio”, and the joke falls completely flat here because Brolin is a shitty mimic.
Even worse is the film’s villain, Jermaine Clement, in a performance that is profoundly silly without being funny or entertaining. I’ve never found him remotely funny, though. Emma Thompson is also here. I really wish she wasn’t. She’s a complete embarrassment from moment one, and the only good thing I can say is that her performance in “Beautiful Creatures” looks to be even worse.
I guess I could give credit to Will Smith for being more restrained than in the previous films, but that is faint praise indeed. He looks to be doing this one solely for the money, but he also didn’t release a hippity hop single for the film, so I’ll be eternally grateful to him for that, at least. Meanwhile, making fun of Tommy Lee Jones’ character’s grumpy humourlessness isn’t funny because Jones himself genuinely doesn’t seem to have a sense of humour. Or joy. C’mon, we all saw the Golden Globes in 2013. And then when he got a chance to show us his ‘happy face’ (to quote him from the only funny moment in “Man of the House”) at the Oscars just recently, you realised that he’s even scarier when attempting to smile. Good actor, no doubt about it, but comedy generally isn’t seen to be his thing. Here there’s literally no difference between real-life humourless Tommy Lee Jones, and the guy in the movie lampooning his straight man image...by playing the straight man. So where’s the joke? And as usual, Hollywood doesn’t understand time travel paradoxes, fucking it all up once again. Not only that, but does Josh Brolin look 29 to you in this? He was 44 at the time, and looks at least 35! Also, is that the most counter-productive and least user-friendly computer you’ve ever seen or what? How are you meant to read that text? Meanwhile, the potential humour in Smith being racially profiled by a couple of white 1960s cops accusing him of stealing a car is ruined by the fact that...he did steal the car. That’s the joke, of course, but one’s complete awareness of it makes it entirely unfunny, as does the fact that the angle is entirely dropped after that. One supporting character, meanwhile, serves no other purpose than to be a magic wand and fix any logic holes. It’s a total cheat, and the character ought to have been called Griffin from the planet Deus Ex Machina.
About the only laugh in the whole thing is a cute reference to that ugly dugong thing that was in the news a while back. For the most part, the film is tired, agonisingly slow-paced, and painfully unfunny. If you like the previous films, you might still struggle to get much enjoyment out of this film which is not only belated but really unnecessary.