Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Review of Dunkin’ Donuts’ “Men in Black 3”-Inspired Offerings

And just a little criticism of the film’s plot holes…which, presumably, go quite well with donut holes

Maybe you caught “Men In Black 3” this weekend (my review, in less than seven syllables: “eh, just kinda’ all-right-ish”). Somewhere along the way, you might have wondered a few things, like “how much product placement for Baskin Robbins can one movie have?” or “how is Will Smith still culturally relevant following ‘Hancock?’” But more so than anything, you were probably wondering “you know, if Dunkin’ Donuts made an assortment of tie-in, limited time only items to correspond to the film’s release, what would they look like?”

Well, wonder no more, America.

At the ripened age of 26, I have a rather shocking confession to make; my entire life, I have never stepped foot inside a Dunkin’ Donuts. I guess the best excuse I can give you is that I grew up in the southeastern United States, where it took DD a couple of decades to really embed itself in the landscape, but now that they’re almost as ubiquitous in the southland as Chick-fil-a and ignorance of other cultures, I guess that rationale holds a lot less weigh that it used to.

Alas, Dunkin’ Donuts clearly knows my glaring weakness as a human being, and that’s the phrase “for a limited time only.” Odds are, I’ll be able to just waltz into one of their stores at any point in my life and just order a cup of coffee and some bear claws, so to get me to move off my duff and actually visit one of their chains requires something just a little bit extra. As in, a novelty beverage based upon a movie that’s going to get its ass kicked at the box office by “The Avengers” - and knowing my demographic a lot better than most retailers, they had the horse sense to unveil an entire series of desserts and iced coffees with a “Men in Black 3” hook to really hammer that particular point home.

Although the “Black Cocoa Crème Iced Coffee” is clearly the most ballyhooed of the Dunkin’ Donuts/Men In Black tie-in cavalcade, it’s most certainly not the only synergetic product on the store shelves. Behind the counter, you’ll also be able to find two limited-time donut variations, an “Undercover Black Cocoa” offering as well as a “Chocolate Lunarmax” dessert - which I suppose is a reference to the moon prison that was featured at the beginning of the movie. You know, the one that somehow has human visitors from earth, despite it being on the freaking moon, with no subsequent explanation from the film thereafter.

Aesthetically, the products are minimalistically-designed, which I suppose is sort of fitting considering the source material. You get lots of black, white and brown, which are hues that I guess are pretty hard to avoid whenever you’re talking coffee or baked breakfast goods. Seeing as how I was a little pressed for time (why the hell would a coffee shop need to close at just 10 p.m., anyway?), I decided to try just one of the tie-in donuts, which ended up being the star-shaped one because, well, it had more sprinkles than the other one.

As far as quantity is concerned, you really can’t argue about what you’re getting. The small size cup at DD - which runs less than two bucks, American - is empirically large enough for a toddler to drown in, and while it’s kind of hard to capture the size of a donut on camera, rest assured; those things were really, really big. As in, large enough to require an utensil to eat it, and not just because it was filled with an additional half pound of molten chocolate on the inside.

While the price is nice and it’s hard to not enjoy the opportunity to literally ingest fleeting pop cultural whimsy, I guess the ultimate question one asks about the “Men In Black” inspired offerings is whether or not the stuff is actually, you know, edible. And to that question, I can easily answer - that really depends according to your tolerance for loads and loads of sugar.

Look, I enjoy chocolate as much as the next human being. In fact, I’d venture to guess that at least eighty percent of my daily caloric intake is derived from either sugars or sugar-derivatives, and take my word for it when I say that I can eat a LOT of sugar-drenched foods. That said, the combination of cookies-and-cream flavored coffee with a doughnut literally speckled with sugar atop sugar atop sugar was enough to give me a headache that lasted well after the movie I had watched that evening concluded.

But, seeing as how that movie just so happened to be “Men In Black 3,” with its dazzling array of massive plot holes and superb ignorance of diagetic logic, maybe that onset migraine was actually my brain trying to make sense of the mostly illogical cinematic conventions unfurling before my very eyes. Like that one scene, where Will Smith uses time travel to just “Prince of Persia” his way back to about five seconds ago and avoid the bad guy’s poisonous needles EVEN THOUGH that same bad guy just got time warped alongside Smith’s character - for whatever reason, the good guy is able to RECALL the lost time that occurred during the chronological shift, while the bad guy that was time zapped right along side him has ZERO recollection of the events of just a few seconds ago.

And then there’s the film’s GRAND REVEAL, where we find out that Will Smith’s character, as a little boy, actually came into contact with Tommy Lee Jones’ character circa 1969. The “get-out-of-here-with-that-shit” comes a little later, when Will Smith, as an adult, watches his hitherto unmentioned father - a high-ranking military chief - get smoked by the film’s primary bad guy. After 1969 Tommy Lee Jones polishes off the baddie, four year old Will Smith comes out running, asking where his dad went - kind of oblivious to the fact that his pop is about three feet to his left, with about twenty billion moon porcupine needles jutting out of his face.

So, all of that right there means that ALL ALONG, Will Smith’s character would have known who Tommy Lee Jones was, or at least thought he bared a striking resemblance to that one dude that just sort of showed up after his father disappeared from the picture a good thirty years prior. This is a fact that is never brought up in the first “Men In Black” movie, nor its 2002 sequel. Hell, it’s a fact that isn’t even brought up in the film’s denouement, when Will Smith has the ability to TELL modern day Tommy Lee Jones all the shit he learned while time traveling. Additionally, for a movie that spends so much time fawning over the New York landscape (it concludes with “Empire State of Mind” playing in the background, no less), I think it’s downright peachy that Will Smith’s character - nor the MIB operation, which has ACCESS to time travel technology - did anything to prevent 9/11 from occurring. Granted, that’s a complaint I have about EVERY film involving a time travel plot mechanic from 2002 onward, but still.

So, uh, what was I talking about again? Oh yeah, those Dunkin’ Donuts tie-ins. As before, as long as you have a sweet tooth (and I mean, a really, really sweet one) you will probably dig whatever MIB-branded gunk the chain will be hawking at you. The java purist I am, I prefer my coffee hot and chalky-tasting, but I really liked the “Black Cocoa Crème” iced drink, which I reckon makes for a delicious pick-up for those days where it’s a good ten or twenty degrees north of 80 Fahrenheit.

All in all, I guess “Men in Black 3” makes a better coffee than it does a motion picture. Hell, that’s probably why the filmmakers threw in that recurring gag about Tommy Lee Jones’ thinking the in-house Joe tasted like “dirt, because it was ground this morning.”

Well, that, or else Starbucks wouldn’t return Barry Sonnenfeld’s phone calls…

1 comment:

  1. I'm still waiting for the Men in Blackaccino. Wait ... err ...




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