— by CAM SMITH —
Was there a petition circling somewhere on the internet about resurrecting the “Men In Black” franchise? Has there been an audible fan demand for more alien-busting adventures with top-secret agents Kay and Jay?
Judging from a recent article posted up at The Hollywood Reporter’s Risky Business blog, there indeed must have been because Sony is moving ahead with an “MIB 3.”
The studio has contracted “Tropic Thunder” scribe Etan Cohen — who is not, in fact, an evil dyslexic clone of “No Country for Old Men” Ethan Coen, as some initially ascertained — to pick up the scattered threads from the ending of Part II and run with them.
Does this mean that Patrick Warburton will be returning as Agent T? Will Tony Shalhoub once again have his head comically exploded?
Aiming for a 2010 start-date, the film’s cast remains very much up in the air. Tommy Lee Jones — who now seems a little long in the tooth for the irreverent, high-energy property — has yet to commit, while mega-star Will Smith, who has shown interest in reprising his popular role, hasn’t decided which of his many, many potential projects currently in development to run with. (Twenty-five titles, including “Hancock 2” and the American “Oldboy” remake, are listed on the always reliable IMDB.)
Right now, the only sure-fire guaranteed returning creative team member is the talented recent director-jail escapee Barry Sonnenfeld, who will hopefully be able to regain his comedy-action footing once again.
Me, I’m somewhat ambivalent towards a third entry. The 1997 original was a cute, periodically engaging, romp with a great concept and a meandering, momentum-damaging last act. It had attitude and spark, but not an overly strong script. The 2002 sequel was an all-around lousy junk-heap of recycles ideas and bored performances — though I do have oddly affectionate memories of those weird little key-worshipping aliens who lived in the storage locker. I’d kill to see an entire movie set in there, with that mini-Moses figure carrying around his pint-sized stone tablets. It could be like “The Ten Commandments” with living, breathing troll dolls!
Silliness aside, if there’s anyone better suited to put the zowzers back in the “MIB” series’ trousers, it’s definitely Cohen. Hopefully he can filter in some of the anarchic spirit of “Tropic Thunder” and make it the rare second sequel which works, and not another vapid retread.
Follow Cam Smith on Twitter at http://twitter.com/camspcepisodes.