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About The Cool Stuff
"Don't underestimate the power of cool, big guns and black suits and dark glasses," says Parkes in explaining the potent and enduring cultural impact of Men in Black iconography. "It connects with a bunch of American myths. It's connected to the gunslingers, the G-Men; it has a little bit of James Bond. These are the tools and attire of the street cops to whom we, as movie-goers, have a real connection. The Men in Black are simply a little more of everything we've come to expect from our heroes."

Nowhere is "more" more obvious than in MIB weaponry. For Men in Black II, the weapons have been inspired, in part, by the top secret organization's new top agent.

"It's always hard designing guns because there have been so many of them done," says production designer Bo Welch. "They need to appear functional and, at the same time, they have to look unique. They also have to be appropriate for the character and situation.

"In the case of this movie, we've already established (in the prior film) that Will Smith's character is going to be more attentive to style than Tommy Lee's. So, our designs this time have to reflect Agent Jay's personality, from the watch he wears to the guns he uses. They just have to look a little hipper."

The old favorite Noisy Cricket is still around but among the new models are the Blue Light Gun, the Proton Detonator Launcher, the Three Barrelled Gun and the Really Big Bazooka.

One other Agent Jay influence comes in the MIB automotive department. In the original, Jay disparaged the styling of Kay's Ford LTD. This time around, Agent Jay has taken care of that problem by installing himself in a 2003 E-500 model Mercedes which makes its debut in MIBII.

Another cultural element that MIBII introduces is one which every kid from eight to eighty will want: his or her very own replica of the Worm Guy's Bachelor Pad - an apartment so cool, Sinatra and the Rat Pack would be envious... if it weren't for the fact that it was designed for creatures who were only three feet tall.

"One of my favorite sets that Bo (Welch) designed was the Worm Guy's Bachelor Pad," says Sonnenfeld. "In the first movie, we never visited the Worms outside the MIB environment. In this one, we actually go and hang out with them in their bachelor pad that's very ‘60s. It's got shag carpeting, cottage cheese ceiling, a little love pit-fire pit, lots of booze, a hot tub, a lot of chrome and Tijuana Brass kind of music. They're sort of Tom Jones-era bachelors.

"Their apartment also has very low ceilings, maybe five feet high instead of the usual eight or nine. Tommy and Will are both over six feet tall. So, when Agents Kay and Jay go to visit a bunch of bachelor worms on a small set, can comedy really be that far behind? I think you're there."

While MIB became celluloid proof of the cultural maxim that one should never underestimate the influence of cool hardware and Raybans, MIBII could unleash upon an unsuspecting world new standards for hipness from which it might take years for popular culture to fully recover.

So, this should serve as fair warning to traditional


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