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Feature: Men in Black 2

Back in Black

Kay (Tommy Lee Jones) and Jay (Will Smith)

Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones return as Agents Jay and Kay in Men in Black 2 to once again protect Earth from the scum of the universe.

In 1997, when Men in Black opened over the July 4th weekend, it stunned industry pundits by making $84.1 million in its first three days, going on to accrue $250 million in the US alone, out-grossing sure-fire summer hits Lost World: Jurassic Park 2 and Batman and Robin.

Men in Black 2 director Barry Sonnenfeld laughs as he quips, “Maybe we can sneak in under the radar again. Isn’t there another Star Wars coming out? “I always thought we were making a little buddy movie,” Sonnenfeld continues, “with a bunch of smoke and mirrors to make you think there was a Science Fiction element to it. But it opened very well and, a week later, three other movies had newspaper ads with their actors wearing sunglasses. And Will’s song [that he wrote for the movie] was playing everywhere you went. So, it was kind of cool how, all of a sudden, it had pervaded society.” .

Men in Black introduced audiences to agents Jay and Kay, government agents monitoring alien activity on Earth for a law enforcement agency that doesn’t officially exist. At the end of the movie, Jay (Smith) neutralizes Kay (Jones), which effectively erases his mind of any memories of being a MiB agent. “Tommy comes back to the agency in MiB2,” Sonnenfeld explains, “because he did something 25 years before during a mission that now has come back to haunt him. He is the only one who knows what happened [so Will has to go to the post office where he’s working and de-neuralize him]. .

“Part of the joy of this movie is at the beginning we see Will Smith basically playing Tommy Lee Jones, being the hard, angry guy that Tommy was by the end of the last movie. Will is totally in charge until ‘Dad’ comes home. Literally, there’s a scene where Will goes from being ‘I’m in charge’ to ‘Okay, Dad, tell me what to do’. .

“One of the biggest challenges of planning the sequel was figuring out how to get Will and Tommy in the movie together faster, because their comedy interaction is what makes up the heart of the film. We’d shot the first two weeks in New York with just Will and finally we got to the first scene of the two of them together, which we shot in Grand Central Station. At the end of the night, Will turned to me with a big smile on his face and said, ‘Kay makes Jay’ – meaning without Tommy’s character, there is no Will’s character. Without Abbott there is no Costello.” Smith concurs, “Tommy and I have a really brilliant relationship. I just think everything that comes out of that dude’s mouth is hilarious. We were in Seoul, doing an interview and we have an unspoken rule that when we interview together I take the dumb questions.”.

by Judy Sloane

Read the full interview in our two-cover edition:
Film Review (Aug)

Columbia Pictures
Feature © Visual Imagination 2002. Not for reproduction

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Film Review (Aug), see below for ordering options
Film Review (Aug)
#621, August (MIB) 2002
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