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Picks and Pans Main: Movies

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Men in Black 3

Will Smith, Josh Brolin, Tommy Lee Jones, Emma Thompson | PG-13 |


You work with a guy for more than a decade, you ought to know more about him than what kind of pie he likes, right? Before Agent J (Smith, reprising the role that confirmed his summer-movie supremacy) can finish griping about what a crusty cuss Agent K (Jones) is, whoosh, K is sucked out of existence by a time-traveling alien named Boris (Flight of the Conchords’s Jemaine Clement). With that high-concept premise and Brolin’s perfectly calibrated take on a younger Agent K, MIB 3 proves it’s pretty spry for a 15-year-old franchise. This is by no means a declaration that the film is flawless-the space guns look dated, even the gnarliest aliens don’t delight like they used to, and in one scene, poor Agent O (Thompson) is forced to screech in an extra-terrestrial language that all but robs her of dignity. But once J leaps off the Chrysler Building and lands in 1969, things begin to click. Brolin injects wry wit into young K, while Smith still delivers lines with more humor than they’re written. As with most movies that dabble in time travel, the logic gets a little hinky, but nobody’s hitting up Men in Black for lessons in quantum physics. Mindless fun is what the movie is: a respectable end to a solid franchise.


Brolin is so natural aping Jones as young Agent K, you’d never know he worked at it.”I went down to Mexico [to study] and got so frustrated, I wanted to quit,” he recalls. “I watched Men in Black 50 times.” Rough. But it still beats battling alien slugs.

Moonrise Kingdom

Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Bruce Willis| PG-13 |


Romantic and absurdly funny, Moonrise Kingdom is easily director Wes Anderson’s most accessible film, and arguably his sweetest. Anderson’s affinity for childhood and its sweeping emotions brings us to the epic tween love of antisocial Suzy and orphaned Sam (exquisitely deadpan newcomers Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman). Suzy has run away from her lawyer parents (Murray and McDormand), Sam is on the lam from his Khaki Scout troop and there’s a hurricane aiming for their little New England isle. As the adults, including Willis’s lovelorn sheriff and Edward Norton’s hilariously regimented troop master, pursue the lovers, Sam and Suzy bond and make expert campsites. The film is kooky, but its message is simple: Love is love, whenever it happens.

The Intouchables

François Cluzet, Omar Sy, Audrey Fleurot, Anne Le Ny | R |


The Intouchables is racially ignorant-and terribly charming. That second bit isn’t a compliment. A huge hit in France, the import stars Sy as Driss, an African immigrant thief who gets a job caring for wealthy, white quadriplegic Philippe (Cluzet), whereupon the pair become best buds. Sy and Cluzet have real chemistry that makes their scenes poignant. But those warm fuzzies gloss over the film’s grinding stereotypes. Like Driving Miss Daisy or The Help, The Intouchables wants to comfort us with pat solutions to deep societal fractures. But the French film is more egregious: Driss, seemingly the only non-white person Philippe knows, behaves buffoonishly, dances like Michael Jackson and incessantly hits on women. There are so many cringeworthy scenes, I’d given up by the time secretary Magalie (Fleurot) compliments Driss by saying he looks “like Obama.” Sure, lady. We all do.