This week:
Men in Black II

Filthy says:
"A hell of a lot of flashy nothing."

When I was a member of the Moose Lodge, there was a hell of a lot of gambling going on. There were all sorts of quasi-legal "fund-raisers." I don't remember all of them , but I recall a few examples: you could lose your money playing shuffleboard against the wily Herndon Boys, you could blow a bundle on Night at the Races (until it was shut down by the cops), or you could get drunk and dump your paycheck on pull-tabs.

There were two Waynes in the Lodge and they lived in a rented mobile home together. This story is about Wayne One and the pull-tabs. Because of his living arrangements, he made an extra effort to let you know he liked the ladies. So much, in fact, that he not only got a vasectomy but he had it reversed. He kept a bottle of Canadian Mist under the counter of the Lodge because they didn't have a liquor license and you had to supply your own. He hounded me to play shuffleboard with him. When he'd get drunk, Wayne told campfire stories so horrifying and bleak that they'd make a pack of Boy Scouts cry. And I'm not talking about little baby Weeblos or anything. I'm talking about the grown up Boy Scouts, the ones who stay on a few more years than most boys. You know, the ones who come up with all sorts of awkward sleeping-bag wrestling games and try to sneak peeks at your wiener.

The other thing Wayne did when he was drunk was gamble with BooBoo, a federal employee so fat that it looked like his ass was a phagocyte devouring the barstool every time he sat down. BooBoo drank hard liquor and smoked Swisher Sweets. He was a mean son of a bitch, and if he stared at you with those tiny sunken black eyes it felt like someone shoved ice cubes up your ass. Between the liquor and folds of skin choking his windpipe his words came out garbled and indecipherable. Round about midnight, he'd lean over to Wayne and say "Huzza we spl youns thnu wanna?" Wayne always said "Sure."

And so they would split a bag of pull-tabs. Pull-tabs are like primitive lottery scratch tickets. Rather than rub off that silver shit, you pull on tabs to reveal whether you won or lost. In a bag, I think there were 300 pull-tabs. You could buy one for a buck and hope for some cash. You could buy ten for ten bucks and improve your chances. But everyone knew that for every 300 tabs, there would only be $250 in prizes. The Lodge made $50 for "charity." Rather than worry about prizes, BooBoo and Wayne would give the barkeep fifty bucks, she'd hand over the bag and the two of them would just start pulling. They knew it was stupid, but they were bored and not creative enough to think of anything else to do until closing time when they'd go into the parking lot and call each other fags.

That's how Men in Black II is. You pay your money, you get a quantifiable dose of mindless entertainment that is less than paid. When it's over, it's all easily be swept into the trash bin never to be thought of again. That's not to say this is a terrible movie, because it's as competent and efficient as a good washing machine. Tip to tail, it's only 88 minutes long and, better still, it only feels like 84. The problem is that not only does it mean nothing, it's supposed to mean nothing, created to disappear as quickly as a dry fart in the high desert.

Will Smith is once again Agent J of a top-secret alien police force. His partner, Tommy Lee Jones' K, has been retired, deprogrammed and shipped off to serve as a rural postmaster. That is, until Lara Flynn Boyle shows up on earth as a menacing alien in search of the Light of Zardoth. The light has some vague "end of the world" complications if the light isn't found. Only Jones knows where the light is hidden, so he is returned to duty and goes on a treasure hunt with Smith, bouncing from one wacky alien encounter to the next after gathering a very easily collected piece of evidence. Smith also falls in love with the very cute Rosario Dawson. His job requires him to wipe the memories of anyone who sees alien activity, but he can't do it to her because then she'll never remember him. As luck and a crappy script would have it, Dawson turns out to also be an important piece of the puzzle for Jones and Smith.

Men in Black II looks like it was designed by Apple Computer with lots of cool colors, sleek objects and smooth textures, everything in the right place. Under all that, though, there's nothing. It's just a calculated cash in by director Barry Sonnenefeld. He sat down and said "What did people like about the first one?" The answer was how original and new it was. So Sonnenfeld decided "Okay, then, let's imitate that." He didn't fuck with the formula or add anything new. He stuffs more of the same shit into the same sleek package, this time not bothering with anything but the gewgaws and visuals.

Sonnenfeld thinks we'll be just as amused every time we see a new wacky alien, so rather than make sense, the story just strings along scene after scene of encounters. A few are funny, like the ballchinnian who has, well, balls hanging from his chin. But mostly they're as tired and busted as the ass on a Mexican farm. For example,a dog-looking alien sings "Who Let the Dogs out." This was funny to whom? Probably not even the moron who liked that sone two years ago. I mean, how hard is it to use all those fucking supercomputers to come up with crazy-looking aliens that exist solely to be punchlines? They were amusing the first time, but, as my friend's parents used to warn her, "The first time it's funny. The second time it's silly. The third time it's a spanking." Mr. Sonnenfeld, you're one movie away from a sore fanny.

The characters are as underdeveloped as German gymnasts. Smith and Jones have sass mouths and are always quick with some glib comment. They mostly just fill in the black suits, though, driving the car that takes them from alien gag to alien gag. Boyle gives me the willies, and not in the good way that pretty ladies do. You know the willies where you sort of wig out thinking about how bad you want to have sex with them. Here she just demonstrates her humorlessness, pastiness and how painful a push-up bra looks on a flat-chested girl. She's the least convincing femme fatale since hunchbacked Sister Roseanne filled in as Carmen in the high school play after Julie Philips got knocked up by one of four football players. Johnny Knoxville makes an unnecessary, unfunny and unpleasant extended cameo. His ability to do stupid shit isn't put to use, and all we're left with is a whiny bad actor. Why use him instead of an actor who needs the work? I guess to sucker stupid kids into the theater.

Rosario Dawson comes across all right, though, because she's got soul. Big tits, too, but that's beside the point, unless you like big tits as much as me. Then it's like two heavy, firm, upturned-nipple layers of icing on the cake. (Note to fellow boob lovers: she is not topless in the movie; I was "imagineering" her boobs from the information the movie provides.) She makes something out of a role that's the cinematic equivalent of Argon: inert and not allowed to react. She's just supposed to stand there and look good while Smith cracks jokes and wiggles his ears. But, she sneaks in the only feeling in the movie. We need to see more of her.

Overall, I sort of wished I were back at the Moose Lodge. Buying a ticket to this or a bag of pull-tabs is the stupid investment of the bored. But watching Wayne and BooBoo was pretty damn entertaining. Two Fingers for Menin Black II.

Want to tell Filthy Something?

Filthy's Reading
Robert Louis Stevenson- Treasure Island

Listening to
Talking Heads - Fear of Music


Shawn Edwards of the Kansas City FOX affiliate

Men in Black II is "Four stars! Twice the action! Twice the laughs!"

About Hey Arnold he says,"You'll love this movie!"

Powerpuff Girls is "Fantastic! Four Stars!"

Mr. Deeds "screams fun and delivers non-stop laughs!"

I'm curious, how can Shawn Edwards tell that Mr. Deeds is screaming fun? When someone's screaming, sometimes it's hard to tell.


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