Slime At Its Prime

It's taken five years to make the deal to make the movie to follow up on the surprise success of "Men in Black," and the biggest obstacle the "MIB" team faces is that the surprise is gone. You know what you're gonna get in "Men in Black II": Agents Kay and Jay (Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith) reunited; a race-against-the-clock plot that will involve saving the planet from imminent destruction; a gaggle of Hydra-headed, slimeball aliens more rococo than ever.

Part 2 gets off on the wrong foot with an unfunny slapstick-horror-action sequence in which Smith rides a giant worm through the New York City subway tunnels. I feared the kind of frenetic FX overkill that wrecked director Barry Sonnenfeld's post-"MIB" fiasco "Wild Wild West." Luckily, as soon as Jones is re-activated (Kay has been working in a post office in Truro, Mass., all memory of his Secret Service past erased), the movie gets its priorities mostly straight. There are just enough fresh, funny gags and witty throwaways to keep the 88-minute "MIB2" percolating. A lecherous talking dog and the party-hardy Worm Pack steal any available scenes. A hint of romance is supplied by Rosario Dawson; Lara Flynn Boyle is the kitten-with-a-whip alien villainess (well cast, but not really funny) and Michael Jackson, a special effect unto himself, pops up hilariously. "MIB2" doesn't risk much, but it fulfills its end of the bargain: a good time will be had by almost all.

Men in Black II