Men in Black International

I’ve only seen the first three movies once when they screened before their releases. If memory serves, the first one was great. The second one was awful, and the third one wasn’t as bad as everyone remembers (come on, it had Josh Brolin, Jemaine Clement, Michael Stuhlberg, and Emma Thompson). Well, Thompson is the only one back for this and as always, she’s great.

And so we go across the pond for this wacky adventure and find out the Eiffel Tower is a portal to an alien “hive” that is nasty business.

It was a pleasant surprise that when they talked about the “great migration” of aliens coming to Earth, they didn’t get preachy or try to make any Trump jokes.

The film starts with Agent H (Chris Hemsworth) and High T (Liam Neeson) on top of the Eiffel Tower saving the world. We also see Molly Wright, a young girl with a blue alien in her backyard. When her father (wearing a Prince shirt) calls the police, MIB show up and erase their memories. Molly’s memory wasn’t erased, and she spends her life wanting to learn about these creatures in the universe. She applies for jobs with every agency (FBI, CIA, etc.) trying to join. As an adult, Molly (Tessa Thompson; find her movie Sorry to Bother You, one of the best of 2018) finally gets into the proper building, and before Agent O (Emma Thompson) can erase her memory, she convinces them she should be a part of their crew. That sends her to London for her first assignment, where she teams up with her Thor: Ragnarok co-star. And they have great chemistry together. You know how everyone wants Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga to become a real couple? Well, I’m hoping these two become an item. They’re so playful with each other, and it makes the film so much more enjoyable.

Agent H would rather nap at his desk and party at night clubs, but Agent M is all business. They butt heads a bit, and when an alien that’s supposed to leave town is murdered, he hands a mysterious box to M (telling her he can’t trust H anymore). This leads to a few double-crosses and a possible mole in the agency.

When they come across a chess board with a talking pawn piece, who laments the death of his queen…it was cute. But once “Pawny” (voiced by Kumail Nanjiani, who was so great in his film The Big Sick) starts tagging along, it makes the movie a riot. It was like the fun I had watching the first Guardians of the Galaxy. Pawny was funnier than the raccoon and Groot combined.

The screenwriters for Iron Man (Art Marcum, Matt Holloway) did a solid job with this, and I was surprised director F. Gary Gray (The Italian Job, Straight Outta Compton, The Fate of the Furious) did such a great job with this.

The Jaguar (and Lexus) that they drive puts James Bond’s Aston-Martin to shame.

The jokes almost always land, whether that’s a scene with Agent H pulling a Captain Kirk and sleeping with an alien, or hearing little aliens talking about going out “for a nosh.”

There was a line about holograms “adding 10 pounds,” the fact that the name should be “men and women in black,” and the best diss of The Notebook ever.

Sure, it could be formulaic at times, but it doesn’t take itself too seriously and it has a fun playfulness about it.

Early reviews have been negative, which is baffling to me. My friend and I had a blast.

3 ½ stars out of 5.

 

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