After years in the rumour wilderness, it looks like Sony might actually get the Men In Black production machine up and running again.
As part of its ShoWest presentation to eager cinema owners in Las Vegas, the studio announced that it was in active development on another chapter in the alien-corralling, ultra-secret team.
So with MIB III now looming large on the horizon – Sony claims it wants the film ready for a 2011 release – we thought we’d take a moment to offer up some utterly unsolicited advice on the new franchise outing.
Because we care. And we want the new film to be more like the original and less like the sequel.
1. Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones.
Despite their busy schedules, the pure, bubbling comedy chemistry between Smith and Jones means that executives would have to be out of their minds not to do everything in their power to drag the pair back to the franchise.
It might take one hell of a juggling act to ensure that they’re both available, but given Smith’s friendly relationship with the studio and Jones’ likely need of a payday to help finance something he truly cares about. No Country For Old Men II: The Bell Rings Twice, anyone?
Plus this thing has been developing since 2005, and in 2008 producer Walter Parkes blabbed that, “Everyone, including Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, wants to do another."
Yeah, it’s so much producer waffle that we’re used to hearing, but we really just want to believe.
And if they really want to tempt the pair to return, they’ll also want to think about…[page-break]
2. Barry Sonnenfeld.
For the last few years, Sonnenfeld has split his time between movies and TV, bringing us the likes of the late, lamented Pushing Daisies.
A man with a singular visual vision and a great ear for comedy, he’d be a big loss if he didn’t step up for the third film.
He doesn’t ever really seem to enjoy directing, as he’s a ball of stress on the job: “During Men in Black II, I was raced to the hospital with what I thought was a heart attack.
“After spending the night in the emergency room, I was given an echocardiogram and told that I was simply suffering from stress and that I should get into a program of meditation. (I didn't tell the doctor that I was meditating when the chest pain started.)”
But now, after working on other projects to recharge himself, we’re hopeful he’ll fling himself back into the world of Men In Black and deliver another movie as good as the original.
And because A) Michael Bay was once considered for the third outing (an idea too terrible to contemplate) and B) Sonnenfeld really, really needs a chance to redeem himself for RV.
A good script might help. Which brings us to…[page-break]
3. Ed Solomon back on scripting duties.
True, not everything Solomon touches turns to gold – he did, after all, write such films as The In-Laws and, er, Super Mario Brothers.
But he also penned the Bill & Ted movies and his work on the first Men In Black was nothing short of sublime.
While we’re sure the film went through more than one pair of hands on its way to the big screen, Solomon’s name remains on the credits and that means he contributed the lion’s share of the material.
So who should be sitting down at their computer to start the script for the third film? The choice is obvious…[page-break]
4. Real Awareness of the sequel’s shortcomings.
Back in 2005, when the new film was but a rumour twinkle in producer Walter Parkes’ eye, he went on the record talking about the future of the franchise.
“I don't think we did the best possible job on the second one. It would be great to pull the franchise back." Too right, Mr P.
Men In Black II tried the go the long-abused sequel route of “take everything we thought worked about the first film, ramp them all up and chuck money at the screen to make it work.” Fail!
That sausage factory approach led to the casting of Lara Flynn Boyle as a useless villain, and a rubbish rehash of the first film.
Bigger is not always better.[page-break]
5. No more talking dog.
And while the studio will want to maximise its kiddie appeal, surely something fresh and new could be found?
After the likes of Beverly Hills Chihuahua, we’re more than sick of chattering canines.
Oh, and no… this is not a cue to wheel on a wisecracking cat alien voiced by Chris Rock. That way madness lies.[page-break]
6. More Comedy Talent.
Time to build on the solid core ensemble, which includes Smith, Jones, Rip Torn and Tony Shalhoub (who should both definitely return for any third outing).
We’d suggest the likes of Ed Helms (you can see his work on The Daily Show, The American version of The Office and here in the new trailer for The Hangover) as another MIB agent.
And we definitely want to see the return of Patrick Warburton (above, with Jon Favreau), who had a small role as Agent Tee in the second film, but needs a proper chance to shine. He was the Tick for Sonnenfeld on TV – the two clearly enjoy working together and Warburton’s one of the most reliable comedy performers around.[page-break]
7. The return of Rosario Dawson.
If Will Smith is looking to take some of the weight off his shoulders for the third go-around, we’d be happy to watch Dawson kick alien butt for 90 minutes.
She’s a confirmed nerd and has grown into the action heroine role after parts in Death Proof and Sin City.
But would she consider a supporting role after getting more lead actress exposure.
Sony, that dump truck full of money should be on its way to her as soon as the script is ready to accompany it.
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