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Men in Black II

Seen: 2002.07.08   ¶   Reviewed: 2002.07.16

A crashing bore. It has so been done already, as everyone quickly figured out: The Monday night after opening weekend barely 20 people dotted the cavernous over-500-seat Cinema 2 at the Paramount. And unfortunately, Mr. X and I were two of them.

If the film is acronymized as MIIB, does one detect an echo of Menace II Society (sequel: Menace III Society?). That’s how much time one has to think about the more important things in life in dealing with this movie. The only mildly diverting issue is the active and knowing deployment of modified Amerikanski black English by Will Smith. Check for yourself: It’s a device. Every switch from newsreader English to a just-noticeable-yet-inoffensive “black” dialect is a multi-level signal to the audience that, first of all, WILL SMITH CAN TALK ANY WAY HE DANG WANT, GIRL, and perhaps more importantly, you too are almost cool enough to talk this very same way!

Yo! Don’t try to play out yo’ homies at temple Fri-nite, wigger! Bust some rhymes, boychick. Dat Will Smith, he da man!

I don’t think so.

Apart from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did one enjoy the performance? One did not.


Caption quality

“You don’t want the light on earth anymore than I do”: Two words please (“any more”).

Nice: (blow lands), (shouts alien profanity), (lustful remarks in alien language). The Caption Center has always been good at concise, evocative description of “non-speech information.”

Serious error: The name of the person being addressed is always preceded by a comma, hence “Hey guys!” and “Come on Eileen” are in fact incorrect. But a name can be a direct object. “All hail Jay!” is in fact “All hail Jay!” and not “All hail, Jay!” which is instead a command to Jay to hail all of us. Nope!

“Oh, merciful one!” is in fact “O merciful one!” And yes, the salutation O is an exception to the previous rule.

How can the Caption Center manage (lustful remarks in alien language) and flub “All hail Jay!”?

Description quality

Miles Neff, perennially.

“A busty brunette” – men can’t have brown hair? – “wearing a brown lace top and panties.” “Jay stands and passes a brunette waitress.” “He smiles at the young brunette.” We’re well past the realm of the inappropriate and outdated and firmly in the galaxy of sexism at this point.

I guess we’re finally acknowledging what little negritude exists in this cinematic opus: “A white agent kicks the floor.” Later: “The white guy kicks it again.”

“All the agents eye Newton, who narrates along with Graves”: Yes, you did have to tell us what visual facts were causing the strange dialogue we were hearing.


Frank is IDed as such in captions, but described as “the dog” once.

Exit interview

Here’s something cute: The “puck” at the base of the gooseneck stalk is labeled Renaissance Quality Interiors, 905 847-0843.

Beyond that, there was no exit interview. I wanted out of there.

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