As the title implies; We need to talk about Pawny.
Or rather more specifically I need to talk about Pawny. Because I have a film degree that cost me over £10k in debt and this is how I’ve decided to use it. But questionable life choices aside a more recent one is I went to go see Men In Black International; It’s fine. It’s fine. Solid 5/10 movie. Any moments of genuine greatness get washed over by some real plot issues & genuine bad writing. One of these issues is the subject I’m rambling about here, in hopes that it leads us to somewhere else, but I can’t guarantee anything. So let’s just all neuralyze ourselves, come into this tangent clean and see where we end up. Fun times inbound!
In the early part of the film we follow our villains of the piece, a dastardly duo Wikipedia informs me are called The Twins because they are twins, in Marrakesh. There they wander into a secret back room and encounter the later dubbed and subject of this rant Pawny and his small group of fellow aliens, whose whole society and way of life seems to be based around….chess, for some reason. They’re small, they stand on a chequered floor lets just call it for what it is a chess board, they can fold up into their armour to form literal chess pieces, and their social hierarchy is in line with the feudal system represented in the game of chess; pawns are the lowest “class” and don’t even have names and defend & serve the pieces above them ultimately represented by The Queen. Now, is the game of chess here on earth based on previous encounters with these tiny little intergalactic travellers? Or once getting here did the aliens see the noble high intellectual game of chess and decide to base their whole society on it? Or is it simply they thought “Hey we already look like chess pieces lets use that to hide here on earth, as chess sets, exclusively?” We don’t know because this racial trait is never explained at any point! Also I guarantee this is the most thought that anyone has put into this idea, definitely more than the people who worked on this film.
Oh also they sell drugs. That’s why The Villains have come to see them, to buy drugs to kill a guy. Fair enough. That’s a rabbit hole not even I am prepared to go down, they’re drug peddling game pieces, fine.
Later in the film Thor & Valkyrie’s investigation takes them to Marrakesh and to the very location I have just established. Only when they get there they discover that everyone there has been massacred by The Twins with the exception of a hiding Pawny who is pretty bummed out about the whole situation. Now, I haven’t actually described Pawny, that’s because I’m about to now; He is a small CGI construct voiced by a comedian and has more sass than the eleven seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race combined. Also his actual physical design is practically screaming from the rafters for toyification. He literally has the exact proportions of his own Funko Pop. Not since the likes of Baby Groot have we seen a GCI character made with this objective in mind, designed in committee to hopefully empty geeks wallets and take up shelf space with a piece of plastic tat. They wanted a Baby Groot so they made a Baby Groot.
However whereas Baby Groot was an endearing collection of expensive pixels that won the hearts and money of filmgoers without even talking, Pawny is very much the opposite; Pawny isn’t even a character; He is a walking joke dispenser with about as much depth as the puddle it would take to drown him in. Our agents walk in to the Chess Club slaughter, a situation our tiny individual gets over incredibly quickly by the way, he explains the no name thing so Agent M dubs him the highly marketable name of “Pawny”. Because he’s a pawn. This from the writers who named their “villains” The Twins because they’re twins.
Anyhoo Pawny decides that M is a queen and vows his servitude to her, which is possibly the actual and only reason for this alien species cultural coding, and both agent just roll with it. Now, the agents could question the small surviving alien as to what actually happened here and why as part of their investigation because they’re investigators investigating a case, but they don’t. They don’t actually even bother. Because ultimately it doesn’t even matter, as they now have a tiny quip dispensing cartoon with them and after all isn’t that better than answers or plot development? Besides there’s no time, stuff needs to happen! And a chase sequence! All punctuated by his sass and quips and boy howdy does he have quips, lot’s of them! Some of them even land, in fact most of them do. But he’s not a character, in fact none of them really are. And maybe that’s the point I’m trying to get to here? I’m very much a stream of consciousness & piss at this this point here.
But what I spent the previous 847 words, a couple of hours of my own time, maybe 5-10 minutes of yours, and is possibly express far more succinctly elsewhere on the internet regarding a film we have all kinda decided is rather meh, is this; The character of Pawny bothers me, however the way he is introduced and incorporated into the plot bothers me more. Because he just appears, is there, and stays there. In a scene where it’s logical to ask him a bunch of stuff that pertains to the story and the killing of his whole people, that doesn’t happen.
Because this film as a whole, there’s just nothing to it. It’s vapid, empty, no bite to it, like brown smoke just wafting around. And a setting like the Men In Black universe that just seems a waste. I mean the subject of immigration and refugees, it’s not even subtext in this series it’s the literal text! Aliens coming to earth living here and hiding in society.
I’m not saying EVERY film needs meaning in it to drive it forward, especially in a popcorn guzzling summer blockbuster, but I feel this setting definitely has more to offer than ‘Stop the badman from getting the macguffin’. After all that’s what endeared us all to the first one. That and characters with depth that we gave a shit about. Also that ‘Stop the badman from getting the macguffin’ thing has been used throughout the series a couple of times so I realise how stupid it is saying that now. I think Hollywood are just going to have to accept they will never make another Men In Back movie as good as the very first one and possibly bits of 3 (And those bits are called Josh Brolin & Jemaine Clement).
This film should have been great but instead it’ll just be forgotten about. You can’t just rely on a pair of funny leads with good chemistry, this film needed something that actually would resonate with audiences and burn itself into their memories. And that is not a 4 inch high cheeky Funko Pop, no matter how much studio producers want it to be.
So fuck Pawny. And fuck me too for writing this I guess. But not fuck you for reading it, you’re the real heroes in this story.
I haven’t blogged in nearly 2 years and THIS is what gets my creative juices going? A 2019 summer blockbuster that we have all agreed is kinda naff? No one asked for this.
What is wrong with me?