Men in Black
July 2, 1997
United States (English)
Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld
Written by Ed Solomon
"Men in Black" was fun then and still is. Science fiction comedies rarely work this well and the lead partnership is the reason it succeeds amongst its misdeeds.
Barry Sonnenfeld's adaptation of the Marvel comics was one of the standout blockbusters of the 1990s. At its essence, this is a buddy-cop movie, only instead of a serial killer or terrorist in Manhattan they must contend with extraterrestrial visitors who do not have our planet's best interests in mind. The seasoned Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) seeks to recruit a fresh whippersnapper from the NYPD, James (Will Smith). The memorable examination process to determine if James, among others, is Men in Black material remains memorable and entertaining after all these years. As we could expect, James chooses to forfeit the only life he's known in exchange for the secrets of the universe. "Imagine what you'll know tomorrow," Agent K tells James as they watch the sun set on another day in New York City. He becomes simply known as Agent J.
Jones is a little bit country while Will Smith is whole lot of hip-hop. The old/young white/back polarizing partnership is as good as any story and remains the key relationship throughout the film. The result is consistently and cleverly funny. Together (but not always together) they contend with Earth's unwanted guest who has taken human form in an unforgettable performance by Vincent D'Onofrio. Most of the supporting cast do their part to keep things fun.
While the CGI is dreadfully dated, the makeup and effects by the legendary Rick Baker ("The Exorcist" and "An American Werewolf in London") are highlights along the ride. The film's climax has all sorts of pacing issues, but a good sense of humor and plenty of payoffs go a long ways to make "Men in Black" the fond film that it is
CONTENT: language, sexual humor, and sci-fi violence