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Baltimore Sun

Men in Black III: will Jemaine Clement make it smaller and better?

As blockbuster season reaches flood tide, it's oddly piquant to read of plans for "Men in Black III." I was never a huge advocate for this franchise. For me the series is amiable, not memorable. The Men in Black react to close encounters of the third and fourth kinds (such as ingestion) with a shrug. There's a limit to how many laughs you can win with a shrug.

But I always gave these movies some credit because, in an era when blockbusters come "super-sized," like fast food, their director, Barry Sonnenfeld, started small and continued to downsize. The most refreshing thing about the original "Men in Black" was that it was so modest and slapdash for a special-effects farce (and only 98 minutes long!). The most refreshing thing about "Men in Black II" was that it was 10 minutes shorter.

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Series fans will exult that Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith have agreed to return as Agent Kay and Agent Jay, respectively; that's director Sonnenfeld, above, directing Jones and Smith on a New York location for the first movie. (If you've been in another universe for the last dozen years, Agents Kay and Jay are two of the black-suited, Ray-Banned alien-busters who regulate Earth-dwelling extra-terrestrials from a base in New York City.)

For the rest of us, the most hopeful news is that Jemaine Clement will costar in the movie. If he brings some of the same loopy, minimalist humor to this film that he did to HBO's "The Flight of the Conchords," MIBIII may be even smaller -- and better.

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Do you have high hopes for the third movie? How did you feel about the first two?


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