Fans of Barry Sonnenfeld's hit sci-fi/comedy Men in Black packed theaters to celebrate the return of Agents J and K, the illegal-alien-nabbing heroes played by Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. "They're back in black," the previews promised. But Men in Black 2 (a.k.a. MIIB), this week's box-office champ, recycles so many of the original's ideas that critics complain it's just a boring re-hash.

Perhaps the most notable change is that Agent J (Smith), who was recruited as a rookie in the last episode, has become the expert. His mentor, Agent K (Jones), has to be brought back from a memory-wipe to return to active duty. K knows the fate of something called "the Light," a device that could give a nasty, lingerie-clad alien (Lara Flynn Boyle) the power to destroy the world as we know it. If K can get his memory back and find "the Light" before the bad guys do, he'll save us all.

But he can't save the movie from aimless plot twists and bad comedy. Mainstream critics claim that the joke-a-minute writing that worked so well in the original seems half-hearted and poorly executed here. Religious press critics are similarly disenchanted, not only for the lack of ideas, but for the lack of a story or anything meaningful.

Jeff Diaz (The Film Forum) asks, "Am I the last human on Earth that likes to have his entertainment be good? Are we a society that prizes witless, inane 'entertainment' so much that we invest so heavily in it?" Likewise, Hillari Hunter (Christian Spotlight) asks, "Have you ever watched a movie where it is obvious that the actors are saying dialogue that is supposed to be funny, but you're not laughing?"

Michael Elliott (Movie Parables) writes, "This convoluted and ultimately disappointing plot amounts to very little as ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.