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Smith, Jones Attempt to Save Planet Earth Again in <i>Men in Black II</i> - 2002-07-03


Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are back to save the Earth from the scum of the universe in a sequel to the 1997 comedy hit; as the advertising slogan says: "same planet, new scum." Alan Silverman has a look at Men in Black II.

When Tommy Lee Jones last had on the black suit, white shirt and sunglasses he recruited Will Smith into the top secret "MIB" (Men In Black)that monitors the comings and goings of outer space aliens.

But after one very deadly interplanetary visitor arrives, 'Agent J' (that's Smith) needs the help of his now-retired former partner 'Agent K' (that's Jones).

Will Smith earned an Oscar nomination for his dramatic performance last year as boxing champ Muhammad Ali; but he says the reunion with Jones helped him quickly return to this comic character.

"The second that Tommy Lee Jones came on the set, 'Agent J' was created, says Smith. "I came out of Ali, I actually flew right from Ghana to New York to start working on Men in Black II from Ali. I had two weeks by myself working with Frank the Pug and all that. The second Tommy Lee Jones came on the set is when I felt 'now I know who 'Agent J' is.' I felt so comfortable when he showed up, I felt something click in my mind about where I needed to be comedically to recreate this character."

"Frank the Pug" is a diminutive, talkative dog who had a small role in the first Men In Black and all but steals the show this time around.

Director Barry Sonnenfeld says the canine character connects with audiences.

"Originally, Frank had one scene where he said he wanted to be Will's partner and that was the end of it," explains Sonnenfeld. "Then I realized that Frank could be a way to make this movie different than the first one. What I like about Frank is that he is New York. He's brash. He's annoying. He's weird. He likes disco music."

Lara Flynn Boyle, cleverly disguised as a lingerie model, plays the evil alien Surleena and she says playing the villain is fun.

"It came very naturally to me," she admits. "It came very easily."

But is that a good thing?

"I don't know. It depends on what kind of girl you like," says Boyle.

Rising young actress Rosario Dawson plays an alien attack eyewitness who catches the eye of Smith's 'Agent J' and he calls on some of his alien pals to help keep her safe.

"There was always something. Luckily for my character, I'm supposed to look at the world that is being shown to me in this film kind of like the audience," she explains. "I can be as big-eyed and wide-eyed and shocked as everybody else. [and] a lot of times I was. I said 'That's how you do that!' Tommy and Will were always laughing at me but it was very, very exciting and I had a really good time."

Co-star Tommy Lee Jones believes the good time they all had under the guidance of director Barry Sonnenfeld comes through on screen.

"It's a lot of fun. Barry has the very wise theory that if you're not having any fun, you can't expect the audience to have any," says Jones. So we had fun all day, every day. It's a real pleasure to go to work."

Men In Black II also features Rip Torn, returning as MIB chief "Agent Zed;" notable cameos include a brief appearance by Michael Jackson and star Will Smith does the title song.

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