Wilson Webb / Columbia Pictures
Josh Brolin plays a young version of Tommy Lee Jones' Agent K, and Will Smith returns as Agent J, in "Men in Black III."
REVIEW: If you're not a fan of Will Smith's smooth-talking Agent J in the "Men in Black" franchise, don't see the third movie in the series, because it's all Smith, all the time. His partner, Agent K, is there too, of course -- played first by Tommy Lee Jones, and then as a younger man by an uncanny Josh Brolin -- but this is Smith's show to win or lose. Thankfully, although the plot feels random in parts, there's enough of the old Smith charisma to make the "MIB" return a pretty smooth one.
It's been 15 years since the first "Men in Black" introduced viewers to K and J, who work for the secretive organization and run around New York busting aliens instead of regular human criminals. It's fun to be plunged into their world again, to walk into a Chinese restaurant and be shown an extra-terrestrial secret lurking at every table and more hidden in the kitchen.
It's certainly not out of the realm of possibility that all models could be aliens, or that Andy Warhol had a secret of his own. If "Men in Black" were a TV buddy cop drama, you'd watch it every week.
But because it's a big-screen movie (and in 3-D for no apparent reason), there's a major plot that chugs in fits and starts, dragging down the charm of the Men in Black's regular duties.
The film's big villain is alien Boris the Animal, played shoutingly by Jemaine Clement. He has an creepy pet that lives inside his hand, and between that, the shouting, and a hideous mouth of upside-down teeth, the usually entertaining "Flight of the Conchords" star is hard to watch here. The film's major plot involves a lunar prison, a planet-guarding shield, time travel back to 1969 and the Moon Landing, and it works in moments, but feels jumbled in others.
But Smith cheerfully carries the film with the same suave sassiness he's always had. He's forever engaging, even in the little moments, such as a yeah-yeah-yeah-whatever fist-bump with some Black Panthers at a Warhol party. And despite the main plot's flaws, it produces a strangely sweet ending that explains how J and K first met. The film will likely slip from your mind as quickly as if the Men in Black flashed one of their memory-erasing neuralizers at you, but it's still an engaging evening's entertainment.
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