Note: This is a spoiler-free Men In Black: International movie review
You may remember the first Men In Black movie, starring Will Smith. You definitely remember the song that went with that movie, starring Will Smith.
Men In Black: International took at least one line from that little diddy (and a whole lot more from the movie). It goes a little something like this: “It’s a sequel to Men In Black! We hope that you remember!”
Men In Black: International makes multiple attempts to harken back to the original, but outside of a few entertaining and funny scenes it falls short.
Don’t get me wrong here. I love the first Men In Black. It’s a childhood staple and always worth a rewatch on cable. As a result, the callbacks and Easter eggs in Men In Black: International prove to be the best part of the movie.
If you’re familiar with the original, you’ll recognize plenty from this sequel. There is little doubt about that. References to past jokes, previous technology, and character cameos all make appearances. Director F. Gary Gray and writers Matt Holloway and Art Marcum were likely intentionally going heavy on references to the first in order to bring people to the theater for Men In Black: International. It worked in the sense that it’s the main reason to see the movie.
Along the same lines is the fact that the movie doesn’t break the fourth wall, but it comes close and is self-aware. In addition to the Men In Black references, Men In Black: International has a bunch of pop culture references. It could prove to date the movie in a few years, but it works well in 2019. And there’s a Hemsworth reference that’s a pure gem.
All this adds up to a stiff start, but a movie that loosens up nicely in the middle.
The story is rushed and jumbled at the start. Combine that with jokes not landing and you’ve got a blasé audience that you have to work extra hard to win over. It’s easy to feel when the pace picks up, and that directly correlates with the star of Men In Black: International — Pawny (Kumail Nanjiani).
Pawny plays the sidekick role, but he’s front and center when it comes to the entertainment. If you have a bunch of quippy one-liners to hand out, why not give them to a tiny green alien who wears armor and thinks he can take Chris Hemsworth? After you watch a scene with the character you’ll just be waiting for the next one he’s in.
Outside of that Chris Hemsworth has a few moments but not too many to speak of, and Tessa Thompson is really underutilized. It’s not that her performance is bad, the character just isn’t written to her strengths. As a fan of her’s I’m disappointed in the way she is used in the movie.
In addition to Thompson’s character writing, the story is wholly predictable within the first half hour. You can’t really expect anything mind-blowing from a Men In Black movie. But International does have a twist and it’s exactly what you think. Overall the writing is pretty poor other than Pawny’s one-liners.
Should I Go See Men In Black: International?
This would classify as a decent, fun date night movie if you’re looking for something like that this weekend. There’s more miss than hit with the comedy, action, and story though so really you should wait until you can watch it in your own home.
(Featured Image courtesy of EPK)