Aliens Attack! Men in Black III Edition

Men in Black 3 (2012) – Rated PG-13

“Agent J travels in time to MIB’s early years in the 1960s, to stop an alien from assassinating his friend Agent K and changing history. “

“Do you know what is the most destructive power in the universe?” – “Sugar?”

A decade and a half after the very funny Men in Black and a full decade after the ‘meh’ Men in Black II, we return to very funny with Men in Black III.

The “Back in Time” tagline of Men in Black III is absolutely wonderful. It is appropriate of course because the subject matter deals with time travel. Not only that but we’re talking about the second sequel to a film made fifteen years ago. The most appropriate use of the tagline though is that Men in Black III is a complete throwback to the way the first film was made.

Honestly I just wanted to do a review that said, “If you liked Men in Black then you will like Men in Black III” but then felt that I shouldn’t give it such short shrift. Men in Black III is good but not outstanding, funny but not uproarious.

Will Smith is more firmly in control and thus receives even more of the screentime. He is looking just a little older – not quite the man who ran down an alien. He is his always likeable, wisecracking self. Tommy Lee Jones returns as the ever scowling Agent K. He does a fine job here as always.

The real star though is actually Josh Brolin. He is so good as the younger Agent K that you forget that it is Josh Brolin. It really seems as if it is a younger Tommy Lee Jones. He steals every scene away from Will Smith and that is quite a feat.

Sadly Rip Torn is not in this one as Zed. He has instead been replaced by the wonderful Emma Thompson as Agent O. She doesn’t have much screentime but is always a delight. Alice Eve plays the young Agent O.

Jemaine Clement plays our resident baddie, Boris. If you aren’t familiar with Jemaine, you will swear that it is Tim Curry from both the voice and mannerisms. The cast is rounded out by Michael Stuhlbarg as the alien Griffin but it really is just Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones in the present and Will Smith and Josh Brolin in the past.

There are plenty of good jokes (and the usual number that fall flat). Neither time period is fully fleshed out but neither does either overstay its welcome. There is an excellent “twist” towards the end which is wonderfully handled.

Once again Rick Baker has filled the screen to bursting with as many different aliens in the background as possible. He won Men in Black’s only Oscar, Best Makeup in 1998.

Sucker Note: Attention theaters – all you have to do to get my money is serve your drinks in sturdy plastic ‘souvenir’ cups. I paid a dollar extra (each) to upgrade to this ridiculously mammoth cup just because I could use it later as a popcorn server in my movie room. The two lovely Men in Black 3 cups will join my two Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides from last year.

People Watch: Look for a delightful cameo by Will Arnett as Agent AA.

Arrested Development

Arrested Development (2003-2005)

This wickedly funny Emmy-winning sitcom follows the tribulations of the Bluths, a wealthy California clan gone to the dogs after paterfamilias and real estate tycoon George Sr. (Jeffrey Tambor) gets busted for fraud. Now long-suffering son Michael (Jason Bateman) keeps the family business afloat as he spars with his boozy mother (Jessica Walter), vapid siblings (Portia de Rossi, Will Arnett and Tony Hale) and other wildly dysfunctional relatives.

“Remember there’s always money in the banana stand.”

Well I had intended this week to just cover some truly awful turkeys but I felt I had to digress. Netflix finally announced that they will show NEW episodes of Arrested Development in 2013 and that they will be showing exclusively on Netflix. Now it will be quite a wait but you can start by watching the first three seasons right now on Netflix.

Arrested Development features a wonderful if unwieldy ensemble cast. Jason Batemen anchors the show as everyman Michael Bluth but most of the other characters are completely off the wall. Portia de Rossi, Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Jeffrey Tambor, Tony Hale, Jessica Walter, Alia Shawkat and David Cross all play quirky relatives – each one vying for attention. Everyone seems to have a different favorite character.

The wonderful ensemble extends to the frequent guest stars. Look for Liza Minnelli, Henry Winkler, Charlize Theron, Amy Poehler, Carl Weathers, Ben Stiller, Jane Lynch and many more in multi-episode story arcs.

The writing is wonderful and it is amazing that they are able to fit all nine family members in each episode. I love the runningĀ  joke where each episode has a preview of the next episode and none of those events ever occur in the next episode.

People Watch: Yes that is Ron Howard narrating each episode and look for noted terrible (yet enthusiastic) singer William Hung playing himself in two episodes .