Will Smith as usual provides great comic relief as he erases memories, time-travels in a goofy manner, (not spoiled here.) and acts as the hero; however most of the gags in this MIB come from the fact that Agent K isn’t a grumpy guy in the 60s. In fact, he is pretty cool, and has loads of youthful wisdom. He eats pie when he needs to think. How cool is that? He’s played masterfully by Josh Brolin, who is so close to Tommy Lee Jones I had to do a double-take.
Also pretty cool is Bill Hader as a satirical Andy Warhol; Agent W, of the MIB. (Which makes sense when you consider Warhol’s clients. I‘m a fan of Warhol’s actual work, and I think Hader is hilarious here.) As you can guess, much of the humor is based around ’60s culture and technology. The neuralizers are huge instead of the little hand-held tubes. The communications net of the ’60s MIB is ’90s dial-up internet. Lots of jokes at the hippie era’s expense.
At Warhol’s Factory, they meet a psychic alien (read: guy in a beanie.) who will help them install a defense system from Boris and his conquerors, but only if they can get it to the stars, which means they have to go to the moon launch. Here they meet the moon launch security, and Boris. One of the security guards eventually reveals a deeper relationship between Agents J and K that was deeply satisfying. And it makes sense until you consider that Agent J is time-traveling. But, no matter. Maybe when he time-travels back, the timeline restores itself back to the way it should have been. But then again, it would raise questions of what happened to Boris. Time paradoxes are so tricky. Probably best to let it go!
There’s some great sci-fi tropes here: alien hunting, time travel, moon prisons, and it returns to sci-fi as a method of social commentary, which was all but gone from the rest of the series. It reveals a kind of optimism about culture and technology that people might take for granted now. Like Agent K, we either seemed to be blinded by this optimist attitude or torn down by our cynicism. Agent K has to learn to deal realistically with the two.
At its heart, it’s a wacky comedy about the good and bad effects of nostalgia. With good aliens showing humans our good times, and the bad ones like Boris showing us a life full of regret and cynicism. I like a good alien-hunting flick, and I’m no stranger to satire, so I thought it was well done, and is worth seeing; especially in developing the characters. If you expect it to be an absolute screwball comedy like Ghostbusters (which I love!) prepare be dazed and confused.