Math of Aging Agents

HE reader John English found Men in Black 3 “a fun, fluffy return to form for the franchise,” he writes. “It buries all those bad Men in Black II memories, but honestly, ten years later, who remembers anything about all that specific about that decade-old film? But enough of generalities. This is about age gaps.

“The present day in MiB3 is firmly established as 2012, and the time Agent J travels back to is firmly established as 1969. That’s a 43-year difference. Now the only time anyone gives their age is Young Agent K (Josh Brolin) who reveals he’s 29. It’s a funny line. K apparently ages quickly. This also means that Current Agent K is 72. Okay, I can accept that. In real life Brolin is 44 and Jones is 65, so Agent K aged horribly in his 20′s, and then it slowed down. Like Walter Matthau.

“But then we have Current Agent O (Emma Thompson) and Young Agent O (Alice Eve). Thompson is only 53 years old, but Eve is 30, not 10. Okay, so maybe K and O are the same age? You’re telling me Thompson’s okay with playing a 72-year-old with no aging make-up?

“And then there’s Will Smith‘s Agent J. Smith is 43, but with the events in this movie, that means Agent J is really over 50 years old. And J does not act like he’s over 50.

“The screenwriters really wanted the year to be 1969 so they can have the moon launch and the hippies and the clothing and Andy Warhol (nice one, Bill Hader), but it feels like a script that was written six years ago, when the ages would have been less of an issue. Even so, why does Emma Thompson take a role that says she’s over 70?”

36 thoughts on “Math of Aging Agents

  1. TimDG on said:

    The 1969 “J” looked around 4 years old, so 2012 “J” would be around 47, not that far from Smith’s actual 43.

  2. I was mostly thrown off by fortysomething super agent Will Smith going home to play video games. Fortysomethings don’t play videogames, do they? Do fiftysomethings? If so, that’s some sad shit.

  3. Gabe, apparently 40somethings line up to see superhero movies on opening day, so I suspect some of them play videogames still.

  4. Yeah, that’s also questionable. But moviegoing is a social activity. You can’t take a date to video gaming.

    I also kind of wondered what this fortysomething would be playing. Guy sees the fantastical every day on the streets, all sorts of aliens and boogeymen. How do videogames not bore him?

  5. Gosh, it’s great that Gabe is always looking out for others in these situations, always helpfully wondering if, wait a minute, are other people NOT BRINGING DATES ANYWHERE?! And noticing how sad that is. I mean, why would anyone do something you can’t bring a DATE to? Guys, did you know that Gabe fucks lots of girls? Has he mentioned this before? On the movie blog where he posts comments, which I assume must be an activity where you can bring a date?

    I mean, I have no interest in videogames and have literally never owned a videogame platform of any kind, unless you count the Nintendo DS I bought for my wife because she likes Super Mario Brothers and puzzle games. But it doesn’t strike me at all as odd that an isolated figure like Smith’s character would blow off some steam playing videogames even though he’s fortysomething. I mean, tons of twenty-and-thirtysomethings play videogames and have for a good long while… stands to reason that some fortysomethings who started in their teens or twenties must exist. And I don’t know that seeing aliens on the streets would somehow numb you to wanting to do something for leisure. Is that like I, as a white dude in Brooklyn, NEVER wanting to watch Girls on HBO because it’s too close to people I’ve known in my life? Because I love that show.

    The ages in the movie are a little wonky, agreed, but not too bad. With Alice Eve, the writer overlooks that yes, the actress is 30 and K is 29 in ’69, but Alice Eve could pretty easily be playing 22 here. Which I guess still makes Emma Thompson’s character way too old for her actual age, but maybe she takes it as a compliment, the idea that she might look like her 50something self as she approaches 70.

  6. I’m sorry, let me go back and edit my comment to say, “I have very clearly never been on a date, because to go on a date you have to be a SWINGING SUPERSTUD with a GOLDEN COCK.”

    Every time I mention doing something social with a member of the opposite sex, one of you dorks has to go and mention it as if it was the STRANGEST FUCKING THING anyone here could do. Why is that? Hell, I didn’t even talk about ME being on a date, I talked about SOMEONE dating as a casual pastime. Because it is a casual pastime.

    I am operating in good faith and assuming that most of the people who visit this INTERNET COMMENT SECTION have, at some point, touched a member of the opposite sex (same sex?). If I’m incorrect about that, well, sucks for you, man!

  7. <- I didn't know Jane Fonda and Frances McDormand were the same person.

    I suppose I could grant to MiB that the stress of the first few years on the job ages them fast, but then as they get promoted somewhere in their mid-30's, the agents get some superalien serum that slows down their aging process... But that's me doing the lifting for the movie.

  8. i don’t know what the forty-somethings and fifty-somethings are doing but this sixty-something plays video games a couple times a week….no dates though (my partner of the past 24 years frowns on me bringing them to the house)…..

  9. Gabe, maybe it’s because you often work your date-dropping into sentiments that could be summed up as “WTF? Why would someone do this? You can’t even do it on a DATE? Ergo, it’s something you do ALONE and that’s sad!”

    Or maybe it’s because you talk about it all the time, whether it’s you personally (which you do) or in the hypothetical (which you also do).

    Or maybe it’s because you don’t seem to often refer to friends or girlfriends or anyone else, but your date (and/or some girl you’re sleeping with) which in large quantities make you sound like you’re insecure about letting everyone know, pssst, I was on a date with a real-live girl!

    I have no problem with talking about this stuff but by and large it doesn’t bring much to your observations, except a weird position of implied superiority/expertise. See, I’d think a GOOD FAITH ASSUMPTION might have more to do with not characterizing videogames as sad because you “can’t take a date to it” which is a totally bizarre thing to bring up in the context of a single fortysomething character with an isolating profession. Maybe you could have a GOOD FAITH ASSUMPTION that all activities don’t revolve around girl-cruising.

    Plenty of commenters here have referred to their wives or ex-girlfriends or whoever, but they manage to do it without sounding like a condescending I’m-an-internet-movie-writer-but-I’m-not-one-of-THOSE-internet-movie-writers tool. You fancy yourself a writer; maybe you could find a more eloquent way of describing what you find isolating about videogames. As is, you sound a bit like some douchebag friend who doesn’t want to hang out with you unless he knows there’s gonna be girls or guys (whatever this douchebag’s romantic or sexual preference; I’ve seen this behavior with both genders) there.

    And I could go into a whole other thing about considering dating a “pastime” but that might get a little personal.

  10. That’s a shitload fo text devoted to my social life.

    Girls make up half the planet. It’s not weird to associate with them.

    You sound so lonely, man.

  11. Though I love what you said about “girl-cruising.” Does one wear shades while doing that? I’ve gotta learn.

  12. While I generally do agree with Gabe (in that movies are social things), video games themselves aren’t. Maybe it’s not a “date”, and probably not best for a 30-something, but it’s definitely a fun thing to do with a girlfriend when you in your teens/20′s. You put in Halo or Call of Duty, teach her the basic buttons and functions, and have fun with it.

    Or you can enjoy them with friends. You’d be surprised at how much fun “drink everytime you die” is in Call of Duty, especially if you’re not good at it. And that’s good for years, even when you’re 40.

    I’m just saying, it’s not boring and depressing to play video games, unless you make it boring and depressive. Unless you’re a bully from an 80′s teen movie, then yeah, it’s pretty fucking nerdy and will get you swirlied and wedgied into oblivion.

  13. Hey The Thing, wanna go giiiirl-cruising with me? We can teach her all the buttons on Smashy Kill Brothers City 4.

    Actually, no, you’re weird. You’re talking about associating with girls. Get away from me, you… sex freak.

  14. To bring this back on topic, they were re-writing this stupid movie halfway through a few times, no? Do you think Emma Thompson even knew she would have a 1960′s analog? Not that Alice Eve’s character brings anything to the table, per se.

    Would have liked more than a throwaway moment for David Rasche. He’s pretty much a dream Man In Black for this franchise.

  15. Actually, buddy, it’s not devoted to your social life at all, which sounds healthy if weirdly devoid of non-dating contact (but, again, I’m kind of assuming you just play that stuff up). It’s devoted to your smarmy combination of constantly talking about your social life and then getting crazy defensive whenever anyone calls you on it.

    It’s not at all weird to associate with girls. Girls are great. I’m married to one, friends with a ton more. Actually, from your telling, you could use a little more “associating” with them and less treating them as a hobby. But hopefully that’s not true; hopefully it’s just something you desperately want lots of us to infer.

    I don’t know, it all sounds a little creepy and bullying to me: I point out that you’re being self-conscious and condescending, and what I get back is what’samatter, don’t you even LIKE GIRLS??!?

    But no, really, just kidding… anyone points out something lame that you do, they’re probably just crying out from a void of loneliness.

  16. I do agree with getting back on-topic, though. Sorry, didn’t mean to derail things.

    In terms of more MiB3 nitpicks, it would’ve been great if the guy who played the beardy dude who gives Smith the time-travel device had been played by someone funny (the way Arnett and Hader were stuck in small roles to squeeze a few laughs out of a not particularly funny script). Those scenes felt endless to me, and the punchlines throughout the movie were so wan. I haven’t seen the first Men in Black in a good long while; it’s funny, right? This one had a lot of good stuff in it — nifty time travel story, Michael Stuhlbarg, great villain design, an actual emotional component (even if it depends on some retconning and sentimentality)… but the actual laughs didn’t materialize.

    It’s a lot better than Men in Black II, and given the amount of supposed production turmoil, could’ve been even worse… but it did feel scotch-taped together.

    Like (SPOILERS): can someone explain to me how it is, when Brolin and Smith stop for pie and thinking things over, how Smith arrives at the conclusion that they’ll find Stuhlbarg over at Shea Stadium. I mean, I know how it literally happens: he hears someone talking about the “amazing” Mets and thinks ah ha! The Mets! And goes to Shea. But why does that happen? What makes him think Stuhlbarg will be there? Why IS he there? And why does the bad guy also know they’ll be there?

    Did I miss something there?

  17. I’m 38 and play video games with my kids sometimes. If my wife and all my children died, I’m sure an increase in videogame playing would be part of my depression spiral.

    Am I the only one who thinks Jane Fonda looks like Frances McDormand on that poster?

  18. >Yeah, that’s also questionable. But moviegoing is a social activity. You can’t take a date to video gaming.

    Gabe, I know many gamers in their forties, and in three or four years I’ll be one myself. Some of these 40-something gamers are married, and some aren’t. Some have girlfriends, and some don’t. Some are attorneys, some are writers, some are programmers. Some are parents, some aren’t. Some are socially maladjusted, and some are among the most socially engaged, charismatic, and friendly people I have ever met.

    Videogaming isn’t an inherently infantile or an inherently anti-social activity. It’s just a hobby, not significantly different from playing solitaire or reading novels. Some people do it in moderation, and some people do it to excess. As with most activities.

    It’ll be nice when your sort of knee-jerk prejudice has died out, but realistically we’ll probably have to wait a few more decades before that happens. Pity, that. Enjoy your condescension, though.

  19. I used to dismiss video games until I realized that devoting hours a week to watching Angel games wasn’t exactly productive. Or always condusive to happiness…

  20. Since I haven’t seen the movie yet, someone will have to confirm for me…

    …but I suspect the *actual* reason that “Agent J” plays video games in his spare time, the reason that no one has commented on… is that he plays them on a SONY Playstation. And to see that this cool, hip, funny character’s platform of choice is a PS3. Is that right?

    It’s all studio synergy, and has little (or no) relevance to the character or story. Everyone here is kinda missing the point — it’s not whether or not Will Smith or “Agent J” is too old for video games, it’s that they can show a PS3 in a movie… free advertising and nothing more. (Unless he plays games on an Xbox or Wii, in which case it explains why Sony’s not doing so well of late..)

  21. John Carpenter plays video games. He’s always talking them up on Twitter. He’s 64 or 65. And he’s way cooler than everyone other motherfucker because he made THE THING. But he hasn’t beat SMASHY KILL BROTHERS CITY 4. Because he was busy arguing with strangers on the Internet. No doubt while fingerblasting babes, though.

  22. Speaking of “aging math”, how did Jane Fonda come to look like a fortyish cougar in the side ad? That’s pretty MIB…

  23. Video gaming can be a social activity. Guys and girls play video games on dates all the time, at arcades or at each other’s houses.

  24. You never see the screen, but careful perusal of the credits yields that Agent J is playing March 6th release “Mass Effect 3″ on yes, a Sony Playstation 3.

  25. The notion of the anti-social KING OF KONG videogame player personality type is woefully outdated. Its like someone asking why anyone would go to times square when all there is there is porno.

    Gabe, find a niece or nephew with a videogame system and ask to borrow their copies of BIOSHOCK, PORTAL or LA NOIRE. You may be pleasantly surprised at just how much the videogame experience has advanced in the past 30 years.

  26. forget the Emma Thompson stuff — was there any explanation for why the time-travel gizmo suddenly behaved differently at one point (rewinding time instead of sending people back), other than that was what the screenwriters wanted it to do? Or was there some throwaway line of dialogue about “different settings” or something that I missed?

  27. Mr. F is correct. The only reason Smith is playing a game is so Sony can show a PS3 controller. They usually load their films with product placement. Surprisingly, I don’t recall seeing any other Sony hardware. Usually there’s a few Sony laptops and tvs in every other shot.

  28. I couldn’t even tell what kind of controller it was, as far as I remember it was only ever shown in medium or long shots and just looked like a black lump of plastic

    maybe the actual console was in the shot at some point, I never noticed

  29. Gabe: You bring up your supposed prowess with women in literally every single thread. It’s become a running joke, an Ira Parks parody that you do all by yourself. The only one who seems oblivious as to how ridiculously contrived it all seems is you. To be an internet douche for a minute and quote Community, you’re like Chevy Chase using every opportunity to bring up him banging Eartha Kitt. “It came up organically!”

    The most ridiculous Will Smith product placement still remains those “vintage” Converse in I, Robot.

  30. In response to gFresh: You make a good argument against video games. John Carpenter does find them a really enjoyable way to spend his time. He’s also only directed a single movie in the last eleven years.
    My problem with video games isn’t that they’re not fun. It’s that they’re TOO MUCH fun. They’re a good way to wind down after a productive day, but if you haven’t just come off of 8 hours or more of spiritually satisfying effort, or unless you’re using them for social interaction, I find video games a guilty pleasure in the most literal sense.

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