Men in Black
Men in Black (1997) movie review
Men in Black stars Will Smith as officer James Edwards, a police officer-turned-secret agent who discovers that humans are not alone in the universe, or even on their own planet. Agent “K”, played by Tommy Lee Jones, works for the Men in Black (MiB), a secret organization that oversees and carefully monitors the aliens they have given sanctuary to on earth, and recruits officer Edwards (now known as Agent “J”) to join the organization as his partner.
Men in Black follows Agents K and J as they attempt to prevent Earth’s destruction by an alien race that has become angered over the death of one of their princes who had taken up residence on Earth, as well as the disappearance of a galaxy that he had in his possession. It also follows the “bug” that had committed the crime as he attempts to steal the galaxy and get away from Earth after he crash landed his spaceship.
Men in Black is first and foremost a comedy, and most of the humor comes from following this headstrong police officer as he is thrown into a seemingly ridiculous situation and now finds himself chasing after an alien cockroach who is about to cause the end of the world. The acting from the two leads is the highlight of this film. Both Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones were solid casting choices, as they play off each other’s characters perfectly. The match-up of the super serious, no-nonsense agent and the sarcastic and silly new recruit makes for some very humorous moments as they chase down leads and interrogate aliens, while simultaneously attempt to keep the public at bay. Vincent D’Onofrio (who plays Edgar/the giant bug alien), also stands out as he plays an alien who has taken over a human’s body and has trouble making it physically work.
The film does not take itself seriously, and this really works for it. It exists for a fun plot and silly story meant to make people laugh, and the writing really shines through here. The agents in the MiB organization are the only characters who take themselves seriously, and this is important because it helps to ground the film at times and show that these are secret government agents and they take their job seriously, because if they didn’t there would not be any stakes even with the coming of the end of the world.
The movie does feel a little dated now, mostly due to the look of the visual effects and the outfits that Will Smith is in before donning the black outfit of the MiB. However, that is a small complaint given everything else this movie accomplishes. The score is fun and stands out in a good way, and its make-up department won the film an Oscar. Overall it’s a very entertaining watch; and worth checking out before seeing Men in Black: International for a good intro into the world of the Men in Black. 7/10
-review by Rachel Grosselin