Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Men in Black


Every once in a while a fairly new idea pops up in a film. (Probably not a completely new idea; there are very few of those going around. But we are grateful for what we can get.) Ghostbusters was such a idea. This one was another. For around two hours we are introduced to a new universe, a place where things are not what they seem, or not what we have always believed them to be. And we are delighted for those two hours. “Protecting the Earth from the scum of the universe!” What a great idea! The script was full of good jokes (among the people revealed to be aliens living in our midst: Al Roker, Danny DeVito, Sylvester Stallone, Newt Gingrich, George Lucas, and Steven Spielberg), and the visuals were not wasted, they showed a sense of imagination and fun. Will Smith was great in his wide-eyed but cocky innocence, Tommy Lee Jones was perfect as the seen-it-all veteran. Vincent D’Onofrio was really great as an alien insect in a human skin. (The biggest crime in that terrible “Law & Order, Criminal Intent” is the one they never investigate: the wasting of his considerable talents.) Linda Fiorentino was badly underused, but you can’t have everything. It was probably the best comedy of the year.

… and naturally they had to make a sequel. Bad idea. Ghostbusters II was a bad idea, too. You can not recapture the freshness of an idea in a sequel. All you can get is “the continuing adventures of,” and that’s not nearly so interesting. Now I see they have finally gotten Bill Murray and Dan Ackroyd to agree to a third Ghostbusters picture. Bad idea. Real bad idea.

Sad moment: I can never see the World Trade Center towers, as we do here, without feeling an actual, physical pain in my gut. And I probably will never get over that.