'Men in Black' still a joy


January 10, 2009|By CHRIS KALTENBACH | CHRIS KALTENBACH,chris.kaltenbach@baltsun.com

The rare film to effectively combine humor and whiz-bang special effects (CGI and big budgets usually don't do funny well), Barry Sonnenfeld's 1997 Men in Black (7 p.m., TBS, repeats 9 p.m.) features the unlikely team of Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones as members of a super-secret government organization charged with keeping track of all the aliens among us. And by aliens, we mean real aliens, extraterrestrial beings with multiple heads, grotesque bodies (at least by our standards; I'm sure they're regarded as quite handsome on their home planets) and appendages where appendages shouldn't be. Agents K (Jones) and J (Smith) are in the enforcement branch; their job is to ensure all the aliens behave themselves, and to protect Earth from all the dastardly aliens who would do us ill. The movie centers on an evil shape-shifting alien's determination to start a universal war, but the real joy is watching Jones and Smith interact. Not surprisingly, Smith, who as a new and unsuspecting recruit really doesn't understand any of this, is the real hoot, but Jones does a nice job of holding his own. Very funny, especially the small touches - like the screen that displays all of Earth's resident aliens, in their terrestrial guises.

For all the vigilante mayhem one could possibly handle, check out AMC's Death Wish triple feature, in which Charles Bronson's Paul Kersey gets fed up to here with all the low-lifes preying on him and his family, and decides to do something about it. The first film, 1974's Death Wish (8 p.m.) features Hope Lange as his unlucky wife and a young Jeff Goldblum as one of the scum who invokes his ire. The sequels, 1982's Death Wish II (10 p.m.) and 1985's Death Wish 3 (midnight) deliver more of the same.

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