According to the movies, there are many ways to travel through time. The first that comes to mind is your standard DeLorean ride with a variety of fuels such as plutonium or garbage. You can fly backwards and reverse the rotation of the planet, swish around in a hot tub with a topless Megan Draper or try to find an actual phone booth occupied by either Keanu Reeves or Dr. Who. If the film has some configuration of H.G. Wells in it, he’ll build his own time machine, but if you’re kind of lazy and can’t be bothered to explain how it’s done, just sit on a curb in Paris around midnight and you’ll end up hanging out with Gertrude Stein. I wish Ernest Hemingway had punched Woody Allen when he got back to 1920.
In the most recent Men in Black movie, time travel once again becomes a main plot point. Will Smith (Agent J) doesn’t actually leave the present until a third of the way into the movie which is a shame because it would have been nice if he had traveled back to 1987 when Men in Black movies were funny. What was novel then seems kind of repetitive here, and I’m truly sorry that Rip Torn went nuts and couldn’t come back to play Zed. Emma Thompson takes over as the boss and as much as I love her work, she really didn’t add anything to this movie.
J learns that he has to go back in time to prevent the death of his partner K, played by an even more morose than usual Tommy Lee Jones. A vicious alien by the name of Boris the Animal has broken out of prison on the moon (I’ll bet Newt didn’t know about that when he planned his colony there) and has a really nasty scorpion-like critter that lives in his hand and scuttles around doing his evil work. Boris is played by Jemaine Clement from Flight of the Conchords, and rocks round black glasses like Patty Duke in The Miracle Worker, only his are screwed into his face. He also has only one arm, and I really was hoping that he would say “I didn’t kill my wife!” so that Tommy Lee Jones would shout “Ah don’t care!” But that would be a little too animated for him in this film.
J must travel back to 1969 and kill Boris, and to do this, we are introduced to yet another way to skip backward through the light fandango. He jumps off the Chrysler Building.
I don’t know if vertigo goes hand in hand with motion sickness or if I’m just an hysteric who should never be allowed to be near anything that’s high or moves too quickly, but as Will Smith would say, dayum. The scene where he stands/fights/jumps off the building was enough to make me want to run screaming from the theatre. Clearly I’m not allowed back to Six Flags after the roller coaster incident, but this was almost worse. Thank God I didn’t see the 3D version of the film, because I would still be in a fetal position under my chair, stuck to the floor by rogue Milk Duds, drooling and whimpering. I suggest you CLOSE YOUR EYES, and after a few minutes, you’ll be safely ensconced in 1969.
That year is famous for the moon launch as well as the surprising come from behind ass-kicking of the Cubs by the hated New York Mets (they are not hated in the movie; that’s just how we refer to them in Chicago) and both events are pertinent to the film. The movie really picks up with the entrance of Josh Brolin, playing Tommy Lee Jones at the age of 29. His performance is wonderful, far more organic than just an impression. The second half of the movie is much better than the first, because who doesn’t love an origin film that explains how these characters got together?
Going back to the future is much easier on the stomach, and eventually J and K are reunited as the wacky alien hunters we grew so fond of in 1987. I hope they stop at three; I don’t know that I can take any more time travel, and Tommy Lee Jones’s face has more cracks in it than Whitney Houston’s purse. (too soon?)
Barf Bag Rating: THREE BAGS (for about 3 minutes of film)
Coming up on 5000 hits! I love a good even number, like when your odometer in the car hits 100,000 or the clock reads 12:34. Okay, those are bad examples, but still … 5000!