This is a clear-cut case of taking a joke way too far. The first Men in Black was a fun little diversion, a sci-fi-action-comedy that didn't make you feel lousy about spending 90 minutes in a dark, air-conditioned theater on a summer day. The conceit—a young man (Will Smith) is partnered with a hardened old expert (Tommy Lee Jones) in a secret law-enforcement agency protecting Earth from extraterrestrial miscreants—felt clever and fresh. But the second Men in Black was a tired rehash of the first, a once-funny punch line repeated ad nauseam. And the third, entirely-unasked-for new Men in Black movie doesn't just inspire nausea in its audience; this is such a bad, passionless exercise in rote moviemaking that if you have any sense in your head, it'll make you mad.
The premise of this one involves an evil alien (Jemaine Clement, growling and staggering about) who goes back in time to kill Agent K (Jones) before he becomes the storied old soldier of the Men in Black. Agent J (Smith, a middle-aged man playing at a young man's game) goes back to 1967 to foil the plot with the help of a youthful Agent K (Josh Brolin, squandering an excellent Tommy Lee Jones impersonation). There are a surprisingly large number of torture scenes. Jokes leap out of Smith's mouth only to plummet to their deaths. Idiotic "secrets" are "revealed" about 40 minutes after the audience figures them out.
This is such a waste. Clement's comedic gifts are wasted in a generic bad-guy role, Emma Thompson's subtlety is wasted in a minor role as the head of MiB, Rick Baker's splendid makeup special effects are wasted on background scenes. The few visual treats—the method of time travel involves falling from a great height, and it's a delight to watch—only remind you how bad everything else is. At this time in Seattle, in the middle of summer blockbuster season and SIFF, there are so many better ways to waste your time in a theater.