Josh Brolin and Will Smith in MEN IN BLACK 3 movie image

After the horrendously bad Men in Black 2, the third film in the franchise redeems itself by returning to the basics of what made the original film entertaining.

Initially the idea of Will Smith's Agent J traveling back to the 60's to save his partner  seemed like a cheap gimmick for a sequel. However, Josh Brolin's performance as a young Tommy Lee Jones' Agent K made revisiting the G-Men team fun again.

The second film suffered from the usual problems associated with sequels (sequelities); too many characters, cookie-cutter villains, re-treading familiar ground, and stale jokes. Setting MEN IN BLACK 3 in 1969 opened up the opportunity to play with fresh material and new people to reveal as aliens. The iconic 60s persona Andy Warhol, of course, was fodder for MIB jokes. A younger Agent K (Brolin) takes Agent J to a typical Warhol party to find clues to an alien messenger hiding out among the crowd in his New York loft. The artist (played by Bill Hader) that inspired future pop art turns out to be a G-Man working undercover for the agency. The obvious choice would've been to reveal him as an alien, but good thing they didn't go that route.

Although the story feels forced at the onset, once Agent J (Smith) time travels to 1969, the Barry Sonnenfeld movie feels fresh.

Boris-the-animal-jermaine-clement-men-in-black-imageThe usually awesome Jermaine Clement didn't have much to do as the villain, Boris the Animal. His character felt like a side note, although his revenge plans are fueling the action. When he first appears on screen, there is potential for a good antagonist, but his role fell to the wayside.

Nicole Scherzinger shows up for a brief cameo as Boris' girlfriend. The former Pussycat Doll feels right at home in a black bustier and a hairdo obviously inspired by the classic Natasha villain from "The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show." Get the joke: Boris and Natasha.  I know...lame. Not only did the one-note joke not work, but Nicole's acting fell flat. It's as if her only job was to show up and look pretty, but her forced expressions made it painful to watch.

Now I can't say enough about Josh Brolin saving the franchise.  How many times can the men in black save the world from an alien invasion? Although an alien invasion was worked into the story, the driving force was the chemistry between Will Smith and Josh Brolin. Agent J has to get to know his future partner all over again which is what made the original work. While Tommy Lee Jones sat out most of the film, it felt as if he were there via Josh Brolin's dead on impersonation.

Too bad we won't be seeing Josh Brolin in a future Men in Black sequel unless of course they do a prequel, but Will Smith's charms would be missed. What if the young Agent K travels to the present and enlists the help of himself and Will Smith to help him find and return one of the most wanted aliens from the 60s?  You listening Barry Sonnefeld?

MEN IN BLACK 3 rolls out in movie theatres May 25, 2012.

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