A third Men in Black film was unnecessary, but I think that most moviegoers are happy to have it. While not the most memorable series, these films have always managed to be a fun diversion for anyone seeking an hour and half of entertainment. The original was one of my favorite films to watch as a kid and, even if the second one could not live up to the first, I still found it to be a modest sequel. Now, nearly ten years after Men In Black 2, Will Smith returns to the series, along with Tommy Lee Jones and director Barry Sonnenfeld. While it may be a slight improvement over its predecessor, Men In Black 3 cannot live up to the standard set by the original film.

An alien criminal named Boris the Animal (Jemain Clement) escapes from prison with the intentions of seeking against Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones). Decades ago, Agent K shot off the arm of Boris and put him behind bars. Boris the Animal discovers a way to travel back in time, where he kills Agent K. All evidence of the modern day Agent K disappears and the only person who remembers that he existed is Agent J (Will Smith). Agent J realizes that he must travel back in time to prevent Boris the Animal from killing his partner.

While I would hesitate to call director Barry Sonnenfeld talented, he certainly has the ability to create fun, goofy films and Men in Black 3 is no exception. It has the energy of a live action cartoon and its fast paced tone will almost always keep viewers interested. Despite a brief lull in the plot that occurs at the start of the final act, the 106 minute runtime goes by fairly quickly.

After weeks of hearing rumors of the script being rewritten in the middle of filming, it is no surprise that the writing is the weakest portion of the film. This can be plainly seen in a headache inducing opening scene in which all of the characters spout out awful dialogue and speak in ridiculously bad clichés. The writing gets a bit better after this, but it is never able to fully pull itself out of the gutter. Most of the humor feels like it was written to please children, which it is able to succeed at. The children in the audience were laughing hysterically. Save for a fairly humorous scene involving Andy Warhol, I was not.

Will Smith is such an engaging performer that he is able to elicit laughs even when the script is not funny. His performance as Agent J has hardly changed from film to film, but I don’t have a problem with that. His comedic energy fits perfectly with the style of Barry Sonnenfeld. Tommy Lee Jones receives less screen time than he did in the previous installments, which is good because his role of the hardened senior agent was becoming tired. Instead of the older version of Agent K, we get to spend time with a younger version of the character, played by Josh Brolin. Brolin does a fantastic job of playing a younger Tommy Lee Jones. Everything from his voice to his mannerisms makes him completely believable as a version of Agent K who is forty years younger.

Men in Black 2 was criticized for having a plot that was too similar to the original Men in Black. We will not be hearing that complaint this time because the addition of time travel is a nice approach at keeping an aging franchise fresh. It may not always look great (at times, the visual effects are downright awful), but Sonnenfeld knows how to make a film that is fast paced and enjoyable. Audiences will surely enjoy the time that the spent watching the movie, but it will be out of their minds soon after they leave the theater. Men in Black 3 is a fairly weak film, but it is a fun diversion for anyone who is bored in the middle of a long, hot summer. Just be prepared to have a craving for chocolate milk afterwards.

Men in Black 3 receives 2/4