Men in Black III: Will Smith Hasn’t Saved the World in a While

Will Smith hasn’t made a movie since 2008’s Seven Pounds, a thoroughly excoriated weepie (that still managed $170 million worldwide), focusing instead on crafting his children’s manifold talents into their own self-propagating entertainment empire. He’s finally back next year with a third installment of Men In Black, which seems like a safe enough choice until you read up on its byzantine creation process. Apparently, the movie went into production with a script by Etan Cohen, one that Will wasn’t really feeling, with the plan to pause for a hiatus during which the script would be modified on the fly to meet Smith’s demands. That’d be strange enough if wasn’t for the fact while Cohen, along with other vets like David Koepp and Jeff Nathanson, did the script doctoring, Smith had his own private writer, Mike Soccio, hammering away at this thing as well without anyone else knowing about it.

Obviously blockbusters routinely have guided-tour-sized screenwriting pools, but this is a bit different: This is three writers punching away, mid-production, with yet a fourth tweaking in secret. Do you know what this means? Men in Black III could be the weirdest movie of all time! Imagine it: characters appearing in one scene to whisper ominous predictions that never manifest into plot points, scenes abruptly breaking into second, unrelated locations, whole third act reveals based on a throwaway snatch of dialogue buried under the credit sequence (Basically, David Lynch would be psyched). The trailer, sadly, doesn’t tip off any bold disjunction: from the looks of things, it’s mostly another straightforward alien action-comedy, this time with a time-travel twist (Representative dialogue: “Jump!” “Jump? “Time jump.”) Let’s keep on hoping for the worst, though.

Filed Under: Movies, Scouting Report, Will Smith

Amos Barshad has written for New York Magazine, Spin, GQ, XXL, and the Arkansas Times. He is a staff writer for Grantland.

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