Barry Sonnenfeld’s “Men in Black 3” is a far cry from the disappointing, vapid MiB2. The usual players are there – Will Smith (who continues to be one of the more watchable actors around) as Agent J; Tommy Lee Jones, as craggy and emotion-less as Mount Rushmore as Agent K; Josh Brolin as the young Agent K, wonderfully channeling Jones; and Emma Thompson as Agent O. (The names nicely set up a joke that when you saw Tommy and Emma together, the pair was OK)
The movie has its fair share of all the good action stuff, with Boris the just-don’t-call-him Animal (Jermaine Clement from the sporadically interesting TV series, “Flight of the Conchords” ) as the bad guy and lots of whiz bang effects. It grippingly swooshes you along. But, unlike 2, this one is built around lots of funny gags and nice set-piece comedy routines that play to the goofy side of Will.
Essentially Sonnenfeld lets Will play funny man to everyone else, all of whom are his straight side-kicks. The stichk works marvelously well; Agent J is presented as really the only human in a team for whom humor, or even human emotion is, you could say, an alien idea.
The story centers around Agent J’s need to go back in time to change the course of events to prevent Boris destroying the world. And along the way, we meet Griffin (Michael Stuhlbarg), a choric figure who can see all eventualities of the multiverse unfolding at all times, and who offers a sort of dead-pan sports commentator’s running description of what’s happening, could happen and had happened.
It’s “Run Lola Run” with aliens attached.