Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Lara Flynn Boyle, Rosario Dawson
It don't mean a thing, but Men in Black II sure got that swing. Hip and happy, this sequel to the 1997 comedy blockbuster is all froth, no substance, and one wouldn't have it any other way.
Clocking in at a zippy 88 minutes, MIBII reunites Smith and Jones as secret agents of a covert government organization keeping tabs on intergalactic visitors. This time out, Smith's Agent Jay must persuade Jones's Agent Kay to abandon retirement—Kay has cheerfully gone postal as a Truro, Mass., mail supervisor and possesses no memory of previously battling space invaders—to help save Earth from an evil alien (Boyle) incarnated as a Victoria's Secret model. (The absence of MIBI's Linda Fiorentino is explained by telling us she returned to her job at the morgue.)
The knowingly silly plot is merely an excuse for Smith and Jones, as comfortably scratchy together as matching woolen mittens, to trade wisecracks and jibes. When Jay visits Kay in Truro and informs him that they once worked together, Kay, after eyeing Jay's dullsville black suit, white shirt and black tie, replies, "I never worked in a funeral parlor."
Director Barry Sonnenfeld, following stumbles with the stinkbombs Wild Wild West and Big Trouble, regains his comic spring here. Boyle (TV's The Practice), vamping with élan, proves a welcome addition to the series, as does Dawson (Josie and the Pussycats), playing a levelheaded damsel in distress. And let's especially hear it for those returning faves: the martini-toting, alien weisenheimers known as the Worm Guys, and Frank—the gravel-voiced pug, who in MIBII belts out a particularly heartfelt rendition of the disco anthem "I Will Survive." Scooby-Doo could take lessons from this dog. (PG-13)
Bottom Line: All things being sequel, MIBII's a winner
Lil Bow Wow, Morris Chestnut
It's gotta be the shoes. That's what Calvin Cambridge, a 13-year-old orphan, decides when he becomes an instant dunkmaster after donning grungy, used sneakers he believes once belonged to Michael Jordan ("M.J." is scrawled on the tongues). Quickly recognized as Heir Jordan, Calvin (Wow) is hired, despite his age and 4'8" height, to play for the Los Angeles Knights, a (fictional) NBA team.
In Like Mike, a warm-and-fuzzy kids' film that drags on too long for its puny plot, Calvin learns that success on the court and in life—he longs to be adopted—has more to do with his actions than footwear. Rap star Lil Bow Wow (born Shad Moss), 15, is likable, but the real fun is in awkward cameos by NBA stars Vince Carter, Jason Kidd and others, all clearly less comfortable in greasepaint than in the paint. (PG)
Bottom Line: Dribbles along
Read My Lips
Emmanuelle Devos, Vincent Cassel
Who's using whom, and does it really matter? These are the questions to be asked while, and after, seeing this nifty French-language romantic thriller. A mousey, hearing-impaired receptionist (Devos) at an office in Paris hires a thuggish ex-con (Cassel) as her assistant. Discovering that she can read lips, he enlists her in a scheme to spy on, and rip off, an old associate. He wants money and revenge; she seeks romance and adventure. Are they really at such cross-purposes as they seem?
Cowritten and directed by Jacques Audiard and skillfully acted by Devos and Cassel, Read My Lips easily keeps viewers on edge until the final shot. (Not rated)
Bottom Line: Coeur appeal