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"Men in Black: International" Has Everything But Jokes

They can do anything they want in visual effects now, but they can't write a funny script.

Credit: Giles Keyte. © 2018 CTMG, Inc. All Rights Reserved. **ALL IMAGES ARE PROPERTY OF SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT INC. FOR PROMOTIONAL USE ONLY. SALE, DUPLICATION OR TRANSFER OF THIS MATERIAL IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED.

Will Smith made his last Men in Black film in 2012.

Since then, there have been lots of ideas for how to continue the franchise. The best idea was to recruit Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum from 21 Jump Street to become Men in Black. They couldn't work that out, but the idea of Men In Black lends itself to a new pair of agents having their own adventures. It wouldn't even preclude them from meeting Agents J (Will Smith) and K (Tommy Lee Jones) one day. Not the agents from Men in Black International, though. We don't ever want to see them again.

In 2016, Agents H (Chris Hemsworth) and High T (Liam Neeson) battled The Hive on top of the Eiffel Tower. Or rather, they're green screened into the scaffolding of the Eiffel Tower. 20 years ago, Molly saw her parents get neuralyzed, but she avoided the memory wipe herself and helped an adorable alien escape. She's spent her life looking for the Men in Black, and she'd be qualified as an adult (Tessa Thompson) if any of the government agencies like the FBI or CIA knew the Men in Black existed.

Molly's ambition could add to Men in Black: International a different dynamic than what J and K had. She finds the Men in Black herself and convinces them to make her Agent M. They can always neuralyze her if it doesn't work out. Then she impresses H and makes herself indispensable to him. In previous movies, Agent J mocked the whole operation, which worked for Will Smith, but M is a good role model to have in a 2019 Men in Black movie. Men In Black: International isn't really interested in M's ambition, and she and H just become generic buddy cops.

Men in Black International forgot to give H and M a dynamic. Oh, I just got that they're H & M. The movie doesn't play that up either. It's cast right; on paper, Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson should work. But they're not playing off each other. Agents J and K were the basic clown and deadpan straight man, because that's a comedy formula for a reason.

Men In Black International knows M (Tessa Thompson) and H (Chris Hemsworth) are supposed to be reluctant partners but can't figure out why. Men In Black International knows M (Tessa Thompson) and H (Chris Hemsworth) are supposed to be reluctant partners but can't figure out why.Credit: Giles Keyte. © 2018 CTMG, Inc. All Rights Reserved. **ALL IMAGES ARE PROPERTY OF SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT INC. FOR PROMOTIONAL USE ONLY. SALE, DUPLICATION OR TRANSFER OF THIS MATERIAL IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED.

Instead, H is smug and swaggery, which Hemsworth can certainly play, but that's not a personality. Maybe if M kept up her ambition and got under H's skin, that would be something, but they ignore that once they're on the case. H razzes the alien Vungus (Kayvan Novak), but it's all made up insults about an alien physiology we've never seen before. How can we laugh about something they've just made up?

The only funny character is Pawny (Kumail Nanjiani), and he doesn't even show up until over an hour in. There are no zingers like, "I make this look good" or "It's raining black people." The name High T is a decent pun, and there are new celebrities identified as secret aliens, but you can only ride that joke so long. Agents M and O (Emma Thompson) have some amusing banter about the outdated gender norms of the name Men in Black, which almost goes somewhere and feels like dialogue Thompson probably punched up herself. When she's not in the scene, the movie is on its own.

Pawny (Kumail Nanjiani), the little creature on M (Tessa Thompson)'s shoulder, is the only funny character in Men in Black International. Pawny (Kumail Nanjiani), the little creature on M (Tessa Thompson)'s shoulder, is the only funny character in Men in Black International.Credit: Giles Keyte. © 2018 CTMG, Inc. All Rights Reserved. **ALL IMAGES ARE PROPERTY OF SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT INC. FOR PROMOTIONAL USE ONLY. SALE, DUPLICATION OR TRANSFER OF THIS MATERIAL IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED.

At least Men in Black: International delivers on the international part. The movie goes to New York, London, Paris, and Marrakesh. This is the longest Men in Black movie, and it feels as long as its hour and 54-minute runtime. It tries to lead you to suspect H for so long when it's totally obvious which character you should really suspect.

They can do anything they want in visual effects now, but they can't write a funny script. Men in Black: International is loaded with more aliens, MIB gadgets, and firepower, but there aren't any jokes. When you don't have Will Smith to make up funny lines, you have to actually give the actors funny things to say.

In 1997, Men in Black had to be selective with its visual effects, so we probably only got to see the best ideas make it to screen. Now that Men in Black: International can have as many visual effects as a Marvel movie, it goes to show that Men in Black wasn't ever supposed to be a tentpole action franchise. Men in Black: International has a lot more set pieces, but none are anything we haven't seen before.

H and M have a gunfight with Alien Twins (Les Twins Laurent and Larry Bourgeois) wherein they shoot bigger guns, but it's the same destruction of a city block we see in every movie. H has a hand-to-hand fight in which he does the same flip over his opponent that every action hero does in every mainstream movie. They have high speed vehicular chases on green screens like the speeder bike chase in Return of the Jedi. Men in Black: International has nothing to add to the action/sci-fi genre.

Men In Black International I've got a bad feeling about this. Credit: Giles Keyte. © 2018 CTMG, Inc. All Rights Reserved. **ALL IMAGES ARE PROPERTY OF SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT INC. FOR PROMOTIONAL USE ONLY. SALE, DUPLICATION OR TRANSFER OF THIS MATERIAL IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED.

What the Men in Black franchise had was comedy. It doesn't take a big budget to write comedy, but it's probably harder work. If Men in Black: International thought it could distract us from the lack of jokes, it was wrong. We noticed that we weren't laughing.

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