Sunday, June 3, 2012

Movie Reviews: The Dictator & Men in Black 3

I managed to see two underwhelming movies over the Memorial Day holiday.  Instead of writing two separate posts for them, I'll only waste one and move on.

The Dictator is Sacha Baron Cohen's latest fish-out-of-water intentionally offensive offering.  Directed once again by Larry Charles (Borat, Bruno), The Dictator follows Haffaz Alladeen, the ruler of the fictional country of Wadiya who comes to America to speak in front of the United Nations.  His right-hand assistant (played by Ben Kingsley) concocts a plot to relieve him of power and Alladeen ends up living amongst the commoners of NYC and befriends a local vegan/hippie shop owner played by Anna Faris.

Borat is of course a comedic classic and Bruno was a major step down for Cohen.  This film takes the quality down another notch and we're given a bunch of juvenile jokes and gags.  There are some funny moments sprinkled throughout including the humorous alias Alladeen chooses for his character, but it seems as if Cohen and Charles are trying way too hard to drive home gross-out over-the-top laughs.  Most of the funny segments were shown in the trailer.  I just found myself groaning at several moments in this movie and there wasn't much to like in Faris' and Cohen's performances.  Please don't bother wasting your money to see this on the big screen.  This is at-best a rental and probably shouldn't be viewed until it shows up on cable.  A mediocre 1.5 out of 5 JRs for this dissapointing movie.

After the waste of film that was Men in Black 2, I was pretty sure a the third entry in the MIB franchise was not necessary at all.  That didn't stop Barry Sonnenfeld from directing Men in Black 3 which once again reunites Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones in a battle with hidden aliens on Earth.  Thankfully, this film is markedly better than the sequel and primarily because of the addition of Josh Brolin as Young Agent K.

MIB 3 contains a time traveling plot line that sends Will Smith's Agent J back in time to battle the main villain Boris the Animal (played brilliantly by Flight of the Conchords star Jermaine Celement).  J must save agent K from dying in the future and encounters the young version of Agent K which allows Brolin to give his very best Tommy Lee Jones impersonation.  He does a fantastic dead-on impression of Tommy Lee Jones' cadence and delivery while making the K character more youthful and slightly less cranky. Brolin's chemistry with Smith is excellent as well and really makes the franchise seem a little fresher.

Some of the jokes and gags don't work and the plot is just not that memorable or exciting, but overall this marks a triumphant return to big-budget summer films for Will Smith who hasn't had one since 2008's Hancock.  MIB 3 is a fun time at the movies but you may just want to hold off until it becomes a rental option.  A so-so 3 out of 5 JRs for this one which for some reason I don't think will be the last of the MIB series.

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