Let's face it, when it comes to thought-provoking summer movies, Men In Black II is no Minority Report. Heck, it's not even Lilo & Stitch. Still, even mindless popcorn flicks can give audiences something to chew on. That's particularly the case with MIB II (opening today), which offers up enough brain teasers to leave even Memento experts scratching their heads. Here, we attempt to address some of those nagging questions.
Where the heck was Agent Elle, the medical-examiner-turned-alien-fighter played in the original film by Linda Fiorentino?
"It turned out not to be a big enough role," explains producer Laurie MacDonald. "We would have loved to have her, but when we began to develop the story, we couldn't find a [major] place for her. We always knew that the movie would be about bringing Tommy Lee Jones's [Agent Kay] back [from retirement]."
Speaking of Tommy, is it just us, or does it seem like Agent Kay is MIA for, like, the first half of the film?
To director Barry Sonnenfeld's dismay, Jones doesn't appear on screen until 25 minutes in. But that's far better than what the initial script called for. "Tommy Lee originally [appeared on] page 54," sighs Sonnenfeld. "I [said to the producers], 'Guys, I've been there. You don't want Will Smith to be the straight man for 54 pages.' (Yes, he's talking about Wild Wild West.) Finally, I got Tommy into the movie at 25 minutes but I wish it was 18 minutes."
At 82 minutes, MIB II is certainly one of the shortest event movies in recent memory. Why?
When it comes to making films, size does matter to Sonnenfeld and bigger isn't better. Jokes producer Walter F. Parkes: "Barry's almost phobic about the running time."
Is Jones's 11-year-old aspiring actress-daughter Victoria in the film?
Yes, she certainly is. "In the scene where Kay and Jay need some weapons and they go to an apartment," says Jones, "my daughter's the little girl on the couch."
What about Smith's sons, Trey and Jaden?
Yep. "My kids are in the last part of the movie when the spaceship [takes off] and they get neurolized," Smith says. "The two little boys looking up those are both of my sons."
Although most of the film was shot prior to Sep. 11, the twin towers are never shown. Were they digitally removed?
According to Parkes, no. "We were able to shoot in directions that didn't involve the twin towers," he says.
Will there be a MIB III?
"I hope so," says Jones. "But there's no such project afoot." In other words, let's see how much MIB II makes this weekend.