Yes, Virginia, It Is A Movie!
As a person who sometimes watches and reviews films for a living, I have this fear. See, the world of film criticism is littered with writers who once seemed not only sane, but competent – insightful, even – who eventually deteriorated into passionless husks, regurgitating the same, semi-meaningless canned phrases and writing things like “fans of the series will find much to love here!” Peter Travers comes to mind. Roger Ebert remains an enjoyable writer, but his tastes have become bizarre and confusing. And this is the norm, not the exception. My working theory on why this happens is, that by constantly bombarding their senses with films they have no interest in seeing, over the course of a career spanning decades, the aging film critic’s brain eventually becomes tenderized into this rom-com softened Sandler mush, no longer able to discern mild innocuousness from excitement, because genuine excitement is such a distant memory that they’re forced to grade a film by how it might feel to the person they think they used to be. Roughly 85 percent of movies, like roughly 85 percent of almost all things, are crap. When you stop pre-sifting out that which is obvious crap, and start seeing everything, just because, it constitutes an unnatural act. An act I suspect that, over time, is like performing your own slow-drip lobotomy. It’s an ugly business, for ugly people.
Ignoring my own rules and looking danger square in the face, I saw Men in Black 3, a film which is obvious crap. And? It wasn’t… that…. bad! Now I’m forced to wonder: have they finally broken me?? Will “joy” soon become the pinging sound my gesturing stick makes against my bedpan as I signal the orderlies for another shovelful of face gruel? WHAT’S HAPPENING TO MEEEEEEEE….
Considering Men in Black 3 is a 3D sequel to a rightly-forgotten paycheck movie from 10 years ago, starring the most blandly charming man in Hollywood, that they started shooting without a finished script… it is shockingly good. The time travel plot makes just enough sense! Josh Brolin is charming as hell! Jemaine Clement from Flight of the Conchords is a delightfully over-the-top villain! Emma Thompson and Michael Stuhlbarg get fun supporting roles! And weird hair! The father-son dynamic between Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones is damn near… touching at times! The 3D is… barely noticeable!
Screenwriter Etan Cohen (who also wrote Tropic Thunder, which I love, and co-wrote Idiocracy) should be commended for writing a script inoffensive enough (occasionally even bordering on amusing!) to allow me to tolerate – nay, enjoy – such an utterly forgettable hot tub fart of a movie.
I don’t know why anyone would want to see Men in Black 3. But if, say, you have a 103-minute layover inside a movie theater, you could do a lot worse.