Barry Sonnenfeld
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4.5 The Addams Family (1991)
4.5 For Love or Money (1993)
6.0 Get Shorty (1995)
6.8 Men In Black (1997)
6.7 Wild Wild West (1999)
6.0 Men in Black 2 (2002)
4.5 Big Trouble (2002)
6.0 RV (2006)
6.0 Men in Black 3 (2012)
4.5 Nine Lives (2016)

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Barry Sonnenfeld debuted with The Addams Family (1991), an adaptation of Charles Addams' cartoon of 1938 and the very famous TV series of 1964. After For Love or Money (1993) he directed Get Shorty (1995), a diligent adaptation of Elmore Leonard's novel.

Men In Black (1997), inspired by a comic strip, is a sci-fi comedy that parodies the tabloids.

In the future, hundreds of aliens roam the Earth, disguised like humans, superivsed by a secret government agency, Men in Black, whose high-tech faceless agents dressed in black (a` la Blues Brothers). Two of them, a veteran, Kay, and a rookie, Jay, who are guided by the news in tabloid newspapers in their investigation, are assigned to the case of an elderly shopkeeper assassinated in a restaurant while he was dining with a (very tall) friend: the elderly shopkeeper, who kept a docile cat, was actually a political leader, and the friend was just warning him. The killer is a spastic man who can hardly walk. The Men In Black examine the corpse in the morgue with the collaboration of a pretty pathologist, who has adopted the cat, and find out that the head opens up, revealing a tiny alien that is about to die and begs them to prevent war. The Men In Black learn that there is an intergalactic hitman on the loose, whose mission is the "galaxy". Kay tortures a dog who is an alien expert in galactic politics and learns that the "galaxy" is actually something very small. But if it falls in the hands of the psychokiller, it would cause the destruction of the Earth. The pathologist has just found it: it is an amulet hanging from the cat's neck. The hitman finds her before the Men In Black find her, kidnaps her and swallows the amulet. The two Men In Black finally face the hitman, who transforms into a cockroach-shaped monster. They blow it up and rescue the amulet. Kay, tired of his life, asks Jay to erase his memory with the "neutralizer" (the tabloids report that he woke up from a 35-year coma). The pathologist has taken his place as Jay's partner.

Wild Wild West (1999) is a blasphemous parody of the western genre. But Sonnenfeld does much more than just ridicule the classics. The film is a cross between James Bond, Sherlock Holmes, Jules Verne, and the cartoons, which countless references to Star Wars, Frankenstein, King Kong, Mad Max and the mother of all picaresque farces, The Great Race.

Jim, a black acrobatic marshall is making love to a girl in a water tank, when the men of a confederate general enter town. He is there to investigate precisely the actions of the sneaky (and very ugly) general. He barely has time to stop a runaway carriage full of nitro, before he gets involved in a brawl at the saloon, where the general is being seduced by a man dressed like a saloon's girl who is investigating the general's kidnapping of an inventor. It turns out "she" too is working for the government, Artemus. The men of the general manage to smuggle the kidnapped inventor out of the saloon and into the carriage of a mysterious gentleman. They are both summoned by the president of the USA in Washington, who asks them to dispose of the gang that is kidnapping all the scientists of the USA They strongly dislike each other, and each other's methods: Jim is an irreverent trigger-happy Casanova, Artemus is a scientist, a sort of James Bond of the Far West. The president grants them use of a high-tech train.
Artemus uses one of his diabolical devices to figure out where the gangsters hide: a New Orleans saloon. Jim and Artemus show up at a masked party, Jim as himself and Artemus as the usual girl. The party is interrupted by the owner of the saloon, Doctor Loveless, the same mysterious gentleman who commands the general and his men. He is a confederate veteran who lost his legs in the civil war and moves around on a steam-propelled wheel-chair. Artemus frees a cute saloon prostitute, Rita (salma Hayek), who has been kidnapped and thrown in a cage for Loveless to enjoy later, while Jim gets in trouble and is almost hanged by the crowd. As they run away, Rita tells them that she disguised herself as a prostitute but she is the daughter of the kidnapped inventor trying to infiltrate the gang that kidnapped him. Doctor Loveless gives a public display of his mad cruelty when he surfaces from the lake on board an amphibous armored ship, manned by his gorgeous girls, and machine-guns his own men, including the ugly general. It turns out that the crowd invited to his party are all representatives of foreign powers interested in his deadly invention. Loveless has been kidnapping scientists in order to complete the machine.
The trio jumps on their train but Doctor Loveless is riding an even more high-tech train, a veritable mutant machine that attacks them. Loveless condemns the two men to die in the desert, tied together with two magnetic rings around their necks. After much bickering and comic disadventures, they managed to free themselves, and reach Loveless' secret city in the desert, where his inventions are being tested. They witness the first steps of a giant mechanical tarantula. Jim comments that Loveless' inventions work, unlike Artemus. But Artemus has the solution to their problems in the form of a wasp: only a wasp can kill a tarantula. Artemus wants to finish the flying machine that Leonardo only sketched.
Loveless is ready to strike. As the president of the USA is inaugurating a new railway, the giant tarantula charges on. The crowd disperses in panic. Loveless and his ladies, who are manning the monster, approach the president and demand the unconditional surrender of the USA. In order to confuse the madman and give Jim time to climb on the monster, Artemus shows up disguised as the president. But Loveless grabs both presidents and his ladies shoot Jim, who falls to the ground, saved only by a bullet-proof vest that Artemus gave him.
Loveless is celebrating his triumph in front of the foreign dignitaries and the scientists he kidnapped when Jim, disguised as an odalisk, frees Artemus. Artemus builds his flying machine, and the duo attacks Loveless' tarantula. Jim has to fight Loveless' gladiators inside the engine of the monster, and finally fights Loveless himself. Artemus saves him, fights one of Loveless' girls and stops the monster just in time before it falls from a cliff. The monster hangs from the cliff, Loveless' wheelchair hanging from the monster, and Jim hanging from the wheelchair. Jim outsmarts Lovelless, who falls to his death.
Everybody is free, including the president and the scientists. Both Artemus and Jim are in love with Rita, but it turns out that the kidnapped scientist is not her father: it's her husband.
Jim, Un baldo e scanzonato cowboy, e Artemus, un inventore gentiluomo, arcinemici, vengono incaricati dal presidente degli USA di scogiminare la banda che sta sequestrando tutti gli scienziati d'America. I due non potrebbero comporre una coppia peggio assortita: il primo e` un nero irrispettoso, specializzato in zuffe e sparatorie acrobatiche, il secondo e` un folle uomo di scienza, specializzato in macchinari improbabili. L'uomo che compie i sequestri e` il generale McGrath, che ha un orecchio di metallo. Il generale McGrath a sua volta lavora per un oscuro figuro, vestito da nobile all'antica, che osserva le sue mosse a distanza.
Il presidente assegna loro un treno stipato di trucchi e trappole. L'inventore vi arriva prima perche' usa una bicicletta a motore, mentre il cowboy lo insegue a cavallo. I due non fanno altro che litigare in continuazione. Il capo della congiura, anche lui scienziato, ma mutilato delle gambe e incastonato in una sedia a rotelle sospinta da un motore a vapore, viaggia a sua volta su un treno non meno fantascientifico.
Nel suo palazzo di New Orleans si tiene un party. Lo scienziato pazzo, il dr Loveless, fa la sua comparsa uscendo da una testa di Lincoln e poi tiene un discorso delirante in cui invoca la distruzione degli USA. Jim, uomo dalla pistola facile, si caccia nei guai irrompendo nella festa e quasi viene linciato. Artemus libera prima la bella Rita, una prostituta che Loveless ha fatto chiudere in gabbia, e poi Jim. Rita si scopre essere in realta` la figlia dell'ultimo scienziato rapito: si e` finta prostituta per restare nell'entourage di Loveless e scoprire dove viene segregato suo padre. Mentre scappano, assistono a un massacro: Loveless spunta dal lago a bordo di una nave anfibia corazzata e mitraglia i suoi stessi uomini, compreso McGrath. Gli invitati del party sono ministri di potenze straniere, ai quali Loveless offre la sua invenzione. E` quello l'obiettivo del rapimento degli scienziati: finire il mostro meccanico.
Inseguiti dal mostro di Loveless, i tre soccombono. Artemus e Jim vengono condannati a morire nel deserto, inchiodati da due grossi anelli magnetici attorno al collo. Riescono in maniera rocambolesca a liberarsi e scoprire dove si trova il bunker di Loveless. Fanno in tempo a vedere Loveless che attacca il presidente, intento a inaugurare la ferrovia. Artemus improvvisa subito un travestimento da presidente per confondere Loveless, ma Loveless fa semplicemente arrestare entrambi. Jim e` stato colpito al cuore, ma si e` salvato grazie al giubbotto antiproiettile che gli ha dato Artemus. Loveless sta celebrando il suo trionfo davanti ai dignitari stranieri e agli scienziati che ha rapito. Artemus sta per essere fucilato, ma Jim interviene travestito da odalisca a distrarre Loveless e favorire la fuga.
Loveless, a bordo del suo mostro, impazza come King Kong per le strade della citta`. Intanto Artemus costruisce una macchina volante con cui attaccare la tarantula di Loveless. L'abbordaggio riesce, ma poi Loveless prende di nuovo il controllo e scatena i suoi gladiatori contro Jim. Jim li sconfigge e poi ingaggia l'ultimo duello con Loveless, che alla fine precipita nel vuoto. Liberano cosi` tutti. Entrambi si erano invaghiti di Rita, ma si scopre che lo scienziato non e` suo padre, e` suo marito.
Piu` che un western e` un incrocio fra James Bond, Sherlock Holmes, Jules Verne, e i cartoni animati piu` isterici, con tanti riferimenti a Star Wars, Frankenstein, King Kong, Mad Max. Il film e` diretto con la mentalita` di un liceale, esuberante, irrazionale, irriverente.
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