Back In Black: Men In Black 3 (2012)

men in black 3I did not have very high hopes for Men In Black 3. When I first heard they were doing another film after the pretty-great first installment and the I-can’t-remember-anything-about-it sequel, I wasn’t super excited. Then I heard that they started filming without a finished script, which is never a good sign and was even less interested. However there were two basic reasons I moved it to the top of the Netflix queue. First, my wife wanted to watch it and I was fairly curious. And two, we got a great deal on a Blu-ray player on Amazon during Cyber Monday and have been itching to take full advantage of that killer picture.

Well, we just finished watching it and I’ve got to say, I was amazingly surprised with how much I dug this movie. I’m not sure if it was the low expectations or that this really is a fantastic movie (I’m thinking it’s leaning towards the latter, really), but this movie really felt like a proper follow-up to the deft mix of action, comedy and sci-fi that made the first one so great. As you may or may not know, the plot for this movie follows Agent J (Will Smith) as he travels back in time to help the late 60s version of his partner (Josh Brolin), Agent K, save the current day version (Tommy Lee Jones). Along the way, he’s also saving the world from a world-killing alien named Boris The Animal in both current and past versions.

The story, which could have gotten overly complicated — especially when you throw in fifth dimensional alien who can see all realities at once — but I thought that screenwriter Etan Cohen did a great job of making everything easy to follow without talking down to the audience. I also thought director Barry Sonnenfeld did a great job with everything from casting younger versions of Tommy Lee Jones and Emma Thompson to keeping the story moving along. Bothcerators get kudos for my two favorite bits in the movie: the fact that the late 60s aliens at MIB HQ all look like they’re from episodes of Star Trek and the whole part with Andy Warhol and the Factory. Warhol played a big early role in the punk scene that I read about in Please Kill Me, so it was fun to see an alternate, funny take on that.

The action and special effects were up there on the same level as the comedy which made this a great choice for really testing out our new Blu-ray player. It all looked so vivid, I could see all the lines on TLJ’s face (which I’m sure he’s not super happy about). At the same time, I could see every aspect of the pretty great looking aliens in both timelines, which is always a plus. Boris was especially awesome looking and well-created. My wife very correctly pointed out that he looks like a less-pale Lobo, which now makes me want a Lobo movie real bad.

But the film also has a heart to it. J wants to know more about K, but K won’t let him in for reasons that become clear(er) by the end of the film. Meanwhile, J finds the past version of K to be a lot more open and happy, so the question of why he changes starts working its way up to the same level as, how are they going to save Earth? A lot of movies with such high stakes (saving the world) tend to lose site of the personal, which is what people can actually relate to. This movie doesn’t have that problem. And, man, the reason they give or K’s distance from J, that was tough but kind of poetic. I have questions about it, but they’re not nagging.

So, all in all, I was very happy with our MIB3 viewing experience from both a story and film perspective AND a visual one. Man, that’s a pretty movie. I really think this Blu-ray thing might have a chance of catching on, you guys.

My New Favorite Recurring SNL Skit: What Up With That?

SNL has been pretty hit or miss this season, but we just saw a rerun of the Joseph Gordon-Levitt and I realized how much I love the Keenan Thompson-starring What Up With That? skits. They’re pretty simple and the same almost every time. Keenan is the host of a BET talk show. There’s always three guests, two of which are real celebs (not the hosts) playing themselves and then Bill Hader playing Fleetwood Mac frontman Lindsey Buckingham. Keenan keeps breaking into song, getting inspired by whatever the first guest is talking about all the while, more and more people jump out dancing, singing or playing instruments. My favorite is Jason Sudekis who is always decked out in a red Adidas track suit and doing 80s hip hop moves. It’s fairly nonsensical, but it kills me every time. Here are all three skits available on Hulu in chronological order.

Of course, the very first clip actually ruins my above description because only James Franco plays himself in this one from October 17th which Gerard Butler hosted. This was the first one I ever saw and it killed me.

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Here’s the episode from the Joseph Gordon-Levitt hosted episode on November 21st. Al Gore and Mindy Kaling from The Office are the guests.

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This is actually the dress rehearsal from the episode that premiered on December 19th. This was the James Franco episode and the talkshow guests are Mike Tyson and 30 Rock’s Jack McBrayer. I used the footage from the dress rehearsal because it has some sick dance movies by Tyson himself.

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Quick Movie Review: Adventureland (2009)

Em and I watched Adventureland yesterday and I really dug it. It was an interesting follow up by Greg Mottola (Superbad) as it wasn’t really laugh out loud funny (though I kept laughing pretty loudly, warranting “shush”-es fromo Em). It’s a story about growing up from the perspective of a recent college grad who studied literature and wants to be a travel writer, but has to work at an amusement park to make money from grad school in 1987. Along the way, he meets plenty of interesting characters (including Bill from Freaks and Geeks, the lovely Ryan Reynolds, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader and Kristen Stewart). But like I said, it’s not as crazy and wild as Superbad, it’s a more subdued movie with a lot more emotion and I can’t help but relate to James (our hero) who has no idea what to do with his life now that he’s done with school and has a degree in English. There’s an Avenue Q song about that right? Anyway, it definitely reminded me of working at Barry’s Bagels back home, meeting weird and interesting people who introduce you to all kinds of stuff.

Anyway, like I said I dug it. A few things of note, we had to turn our subtitles on just to make out what everybody was saying. There aren’t any accents, it’s just that James, played by Jesse Eisenberg is very soft spoken and delivers a lot of under-the-breath lines, which I found to be the funniest. If you turn the volume up too loud, then the damn music kicks in and blows your ear drums (wow, that made me sound OLD). Also, this might be the first movie I can remember where the young stars actually didn’t look old enough to be playing their characters’ ages. Specifically Eisenberg doesn’t look like a college grad, but a high school one. This threw me off for part of the movie because I kept thinking they might get in trouble for drinking in public. I had to keep reminding myself of that. Also, I haven’t seen any of Kristen Stewarts other movies (scratch that, she was the kid in Panic Room? huh) and I definitely didn’t have the strong feelings towrads her character than Ben had, but I can say that, for the most part, this is the least gross I’ve ever seen her. What’s with the greasy hair? I get that you’re pothead, but dress it up a little, you know? High points were when Bill from Freaks & Geeks shows James how all the rides work and when James punches a meathead. All in all, this is a great movie for English majors.