I guess there comes a time in a rock star’s lives where they realize they need to look for Nazis.
Bored and jaded, former rock-star Cheyenne (Sean Penn) decides he needs to confront the Nazi war criminal who tormented his father in the Auschwitz concentration camp. He sets out on a road trip across America to find the fugitive.
This is a pretty weird premise, and having Penn in the lead-role, playing a guy that is essentially a mix between Robert Smith and Andy Warhol, makes it even weirder. However, being weird and a tad quirky doesn’t make a great movie, but it makes for a great performance and that’s sadly, all this film may be remembered for when the year 2012 is over. Sorry David Byrne, your soundtrack kicks-ass though.
Where I think director Paolo Sorrentino may have lost himself a bit with this material was thinking that by the idea that you have a weird, lead-character, that you automatically have to make everything else in the film exactly like that and to top that all off, you have to make everything be as random as a guy walking on the beach with a horse’s head. In case you couldn’t tell by that last statement, that idea of random is exactly what happens many of times throughout this whole movie and it never makes any sense other than the fact that Sorrentino believes this is what he needs to spice his story up.
Since it is a road-movie, with this lead character going-on throughout all of these different areas and discovering himself, we get treated (or tricked, still can’t get rid of Halloween lingo) to a bunch of random encounters Cheyenne has with people that either have to do with the Nazi he’s searching for, or just plain and simple people in general. Sometimes these bits are amusing, but other times just feel obvious as if Sorrentino needed people to have this mean something and touch our hearts, but oddly, it never does. Actually, throughout the whole film I was sort of left without any sort of feeling whatsoever. Sometimes it made me laugh, sometimes it was sweet, but mostly, it just moving at a pace that I didn’t really care for, all because it’s a bit too random and strange for my pleasures.
Maybe quirky, little indies like this aren’t the perfect pieces of pie for me, maybe that’s what it is, but whatever it is here, it doesn’t work and it feels like a missed-opportunity too, because this story could have really, I mean, really touched everybody who witnessed it. It’s only worse to know that the movie doesn’t succeed at that and instead, settles for being a strange flick that goes nowhere with itself and believe it or not, only brings up it’s main-plot about 45-minutes through the whole film. Before we even get to the part where this plot is even introduced, we are shown Cheyenne and the way he carries his life and as funny and interesting as it may be sometimes, it still didn’t do anything for me, or this movie. Seriously, something was missing here between me and this movie and I don’t know who’s fault it is. I’m going with the latter, but that’s just like my opinion, man.
However, in the middle of all this randomness, is a very good performance from Sean Penn who plays-up his goofy-side, that is a reminder as to why people loved (and still do love) Louie Spicolli after all of these years. Penn is basically playing a caricature of the typical, burn-out rock star that can’t seem to grow-up or get rid of his old days, but Penn makes it seem more than just that. He’s actually very good handling all of this goofy comedy that he has to deliver and does it with a great comedic-timing that’s made me miss him in comedies for the longest-time. His character, Cheyenne, may be a bit too hard to identify with considering how strange he truly is, but Penn makes it worth while and it’s probably the only reason to see this flick, especially if you think Penn is turning into a crazy hack that doesn’t deserve the light of day. Even if you don’t think this, trust me, there are people who do and he’s showing all of them up right now. Damn Sean Penn!
Playing his wife of 35 years is Frances McDormand and as great and charming as she is, she still comes off as a bit unbelievable due to the fact that Cheyenne is so freakin’ weird. I mean, maybe somewhere in the world a couple like this can come together and stay together as long as any other normal, married one, but in terms of cinematic reasoning, it doesn’t ring all that true to me even though McDormand tries her hardest to make it so. She seems more of a best-friend or sister that comes around and hangs out with Cheyenne from time-to-time and obviously they do some dirty stuff here to make you think otherwise, but take away those dirty scenes and I would most likely think of them as just a bro and sis. Then again, though, they both try their hardest and that’s how I looked at it after all.
Consensus: Even though it’s utter randomness, strangeness, and lack of emotional-heart doesn’t do This Must Be The Place any justice whatsoever, the acting from McDormand and Penn does and keep this film on it’s toes, even if it does seem to go down a road that we don’t really care for, nor actually believe in. Not terrible, but could have been so, so, so much damn better.
Look out aliens, they’re getting older.
Agent K (Will Smith) travels back through time to the 1960s to save Agent J (Tommy Lee Jones). However, the big mishap here is that he’s about 30 years younger (Josh Brolin) and they both have to fight off super-alien, Boris the Animal, from destroying the world.
Now, I know I sure as hell wasn’t asking for this and I’m pretty sure (hoping) that nobody else really was either; but there is still something positive to be said about this franchise. The first one was very fun and probably stayed in every kids memories forever; and then the second one came around suck all of the fun from the first one! Still, there’s a smidge of fun here taht brought me back to the good old days of sitting down and poppin’ in the old MIB into the VHS, with a couple of my really cool buds. Oh, the old times.
What really had me scared in the beginning was how out-dated this flick seemed. It’s been awhile since the first and second film came out, so when you have Smith up on-screen using lines like “pimpslap the biznitch” or “fo’ real dawg”, it gives off barely any comedy and seems like everybody involved is trying to go back to their 90′s flavor. It’s not sitting well with the viewers, though. Actually, movies, Summer blockbusters, and comedy in general has sort of changed since ’97 and you don’t have to look past the first 20 minutes to notice. I didn’t find myself laughing once and felt boderline disappointing because they tried so damn hard to make me. Everything that Smith did back in the 90′s that seemed hip, cool, and funny — comes off flat. Sure, there’s something nice about a comedy that isn’t all about being raunchy goes with a clean approach, but it just isn’t funny enough here and that’s what pushed my buttons at first.
Thankfully once Smith finds himself in 1969, things start to pick up smoothly. Director Barry Sonnenfeld did a nice job with this material because he was able to balance out all of the elements of comedy, action, sci-fi, and even a bit of drama; and somehow he made it all work. I started chuckling a lot more once they got into the 60′s lunged at the time-period by bringing up iconic figures like Andy Warhol, played hilariously by Bill Hader, and a couple of little references to outdated music and fads that were big around then. Yeah, the time-travel idea may have not been very inspiring, but it still worked, alright? Thanks mainly, of course, to Sonnenfeld, who is able to make it work, without just seeming like a one-trick pony where every other joke is a hit at the decade. When you got MIB gadgets in the 60′s, you got a quick laugh.
However, a lot of the fun comes from the action and sci-fi elements. The 3D for this movie is actually pretty good and the special effects look even better, thanks to the wonderful work by Rick Baker who always seems to be on his A-game no matter what the movie is. Of course, the aliens look great and the gadgets are cooler than ever but there’s also a lot of action here that really keeps the movie going, without ever really stopping itself to slow down and focus on its characters.
You know what? I did sort of like when they started to slow the film down and focus on the characters, because it worked better than expected. The film really focuses on how Jones’ character has changed over the years from this smiling happy dude that is liked by many, to this totally stern and miserable-looking guy that nobody wants to be around. This was a cool idea and used well — whenever the film brought it into the picture a bit, however, it immediate starts to shy away from it and then this final twist comes in at the end to give us a connection to these characters more and it comes off as totally shoehorned in. I don’t want to give anything away but what shocked me at first, really made no sense and seemed like a really manipulative way of getting us to care for these two characters that we already love and root for as it is.
Will Smith returns to the screen after a 4-year absence and plays the role of Agent J with all of the charisma and enthusiasm he has in his pocket, almost as if he wasn’t gone from the screen for 4 minutes. As I said before, a lot of Smith’s comedy at first, comes off as dated but he starts to get the hang of it and shows why he is one of the most lovable personalities on the big-screen and I hope he comes back to stay and not leave us after doing some dumb shit like Seven Pounds. Tommy Lee Jones is not really here all that much as Agent J, because a lot of that time is given to the awesome Josh Brolin, who plays a younger version of him. Brolin hits the deadpan delivery that Jones has perfectly and he adds a lot of charm to a performance that could have easily just been one-note. He said “slick” a little too much for my liking, but I still have to give a lot of love to Brolin for bringing an impersonation of a very notable actor, and giving it his own, little swing.
Jemaine Clement is sort of one-dimensional as the villain, Boris the Animal, and I think it’s a disappointment because I think Clement could have really handled this material like a champ. Instead, they give him non-intimidating villainous lines, a running gag about his name that wasn’t funny the first 100 times they did it, and a Randy “Macho Man” Savage look that made me feel like he was going against the wrong guys in a battle like this. He should have been facing Hulkamania, brothers!!
Consensus: Men in Black III may not be a threequel we needed to see nor does it bring anything new to this almost-forgotten franchise, but it does bring a lot of kid-oriented fun to it, with charming performances from the cast, a breezy pace, and a nice mixture of comedy and action that will remind you as to why this franchise worked so well in the first place.