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Script Review: MEN IN BLACK 2

(January 14, 2001 Draft) - by Robert Gordan, Revisions by Barry Fanaro

Reviewed by Christopher Wehner


NOTE: The screenplays we review are often in development and may experience many rewrites, some could end up being completely different than what is reviewed here. It is our hope that our reviews generate more interest in the film. Thank you.

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it." That's the mentality behind the MEN IN BLACK sequel. As a matter of fact, "If the first blueprint worked, then lets follow it exactly," is a better description. The next MIB movie will stick closely to what worked the first time--almost beat for beat, and plot point for plot point.

MEN IN BLACK 2 opens much like the last one with the sky, planets, and stars (we're in New York). Shortly after we get the flying firefly (insect, whatever). A group of tourists witness Jay, and his rookie partner Tee, trying to capture Jeff, a large wormy creature. Tee botches the mission and Jay neuralyzes him. Once again he is without a partner, as apparently he has gone through several.

Everything is the same in this story, just different bad guys and a few new characters. Before long planet earth is in trouble again. Jay then goes in search of Kay, who is now divorced and a postal worker. The love of his life, the woman that caused him to give it all up the first time, is now his ex-wife. Their relationship is explained away in less than a page.

The bad guy is now a women (Serleena) who looks like she is from the pages of a Victoria's Secret's magazine. However, she is a hideous creature on the inside able to project roots from her mouth that can devour and kill humans with ease.

Serleena and her gang are in search of the "Light of Zartha," which once again holds the key to the universe. There's not much time. Serleena has managed to take over MIB headquarters just as Jay reunites with Kay. Zed is Serleena's prisoner. Though Jay is able to de-neuralyze Kay, it takes several hours to completely take effect. This provided for some nice humor in the script.

Jay develops a love interest when they find Rita, whose boss was killed by Serleena. Rita witnessed the event and overheard the bad guys talking about the "Light of Zartha." She tells Jay.

This script is almost beat for beat the same story as the first movie, with a few minor differences. Interestingly enough, there are two endings in this draft. Both allow for yet another MIB movie. Both endings are fine. But I must say, whenever a script has two endings (an "alternate ending"), it doesn't really have one at all. It's like a football team that thinks it has two starting quarterbacks. There's bound to be trouble. If the ending wasn't realized during the writing process, than it's problematic that the narrative wasn't strong enough. "Know you ending." How many times have I heard that during any basic screenwriting class or seminar? It's one of the few screenwriting "rules" that I think actually do apply.

There is some nice humor in the script and frankly a lot of it was cute. The movie has at its core a fun story with some excitement. MIB 2 will be a good, clean summer time escape from a hot humid summer day. Some moviegoers will be put to slept, but the kids won't. The critics will be divided. Some will bash it for its silliness and lack of characterization. We don't really learn anything new about Kay and Jay. What we learn about Kay is, well, worrisome. The guy has got issues. His marriage was a bust and he's always grumpy. As a matter of fact, it also gets old.

But the bottom line is though the script is lackluster and simpleminded, it will produce just enough melodrama and laughs to sustain at the box office, and we all know that's what matters most.

Until next time.

-- Chris

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