Cinema Signal:

Secret Crimes & Coverups of the U.S. Government

(for real)

. "Men In Black II"

If you don't take it too seriously, and If you're up for a spoof of films like "Godzilla" to "Plan 9 From Outer Space" (which means you're in the right frame of mind) you're in for a splash of summertime entertainment (even if you watch it in the dead of winter).

Is it as good as the original? Given that what you're in for is no longer the surprise it was when this concept emerged from the egg of originality, how can it be? But that doesn't mean you shouldn't expose yourself to the latest installment of that alien busting, tirelessly attired partnership known as "The Men in Black". Just be forewarned that you might be wigged out. It's not for the squeemish, the gullible, the easily transported to a place of laughter. Uhhh... on second thought, that's exactly who it's for.

The hi-jinx starts with agent Jay (Will Smith) "dealing with" a big worm who inhabits the New York subway and has recently taken to devouring the trains. He's subdued, but destined to return for a late plot development.

But, then, a new alien arrives on our crusty earth, metamorphosing into that Victoria Secret lingerie model with tentacular reach, Serleena (Lara Flynn Boyle). No need to convince us that she's sexy and svelte. But, what is she up to? Well, it seems she's after a certain "light" that's been hidden on our planet.

Complicating the issue is that the only agent who knows where the light is, Kay (Tommy Lee Jones) is working in blissful amnesia as the postmaster of Truro, Mass and doing an inspiring job of it, too. It will be agent Jay's task to bring agent Kay back to the agency and recommision his deeply buried memories in order to save Earth from the evil tentacles of hot enchantress Serleena and save Earth.

To aid him in his reprogramming is the master pawn shop operator, Jack Jeebs (Tony Shalhoub). Working for him is the sultry Laura Vasquez (gorgeous Rosario Dawson) for whom agent Kay has eyes, and they're not the kind that see in three dimensions. Anyway, Jeebs comes up with an old model machine that does the job and, eventually, recommissions agent Jay's memory banks.

The ensuing chase and counter chase involves creatures from every walk of a digital artists brain folds and countless times agent Kay's memory wipe-out control will be needed. The only witness whose memory he won't erase is Laura Vasquez's. He don't want her to forget him, nohow.

One of the many grotesqueries come to life in heaps of amusement is agent Kay's temporary partner, the pug dog. Rarely has animatronics achieved such a level of high-paced mirth as comes from the cuspids of this character's mouth, unless you put "Shrek"'s donkey into the mix. Other achievements are more mishapen but all in the style of extreme alienness that is the hallmark of the series.

It may not come off as original or suprising or organically motivated as the first MIB, but the paste that holds it together is the amazing quality that resides in Will Smith. He's got to take the award for the hippest dude in the universe with an instrument of charisma and humor that is second to none. Directory Barry Sonenfeld might not have pulled off the equal of his first, much as he obviously tried, but he protected his back side by repeating with a cast so finely tuned to the festivities.

For a little entertainment (88 minutes worth), send in the aliens.

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                                      ~~  Jules Brenner  
                                              Cinema Signals

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Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, the Men in Black, armed.

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