Men In Black (1997) – Barry Sonnenfeld

 

The cult favorite comic book, created by Lowell Cunningham, hits the mainstream as a popcorn delight in this entry on the 101 Sci-Fi Movies list.

Using the conspiracy of the MiB as a launching point, and incorporating all manner of UFO stories, rumors and possible sightings, Barry Sonnenfeld as director guides Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones as they attempt to save Earth from the scum of the universe.

Kay (Jones) is a seen-it-all agent for the Men In Black, after his partner elects to retire after a border incident, he has to find a new one to replace him. Enter a streetwise, hip New York Cop (Smith) who comes to Kay’s attention when he runs down an alien who hints at danger looming on the horizon.

And so, using Smith as the viewer’s conduit, we are introduced to the world of aliens residing on the planet. He’s shown strange technology, even stranger races, and we learn that all of this, not to mention saving the world countless times a day, all of which is taking place under society’s nose.

Jay and Kay get wrapped up in a universe-sized incident, as a giant bug, who dons a human’s skin (Vincent D’Onofrio), comes to Earth to assassinate a leader and claim a galaxy.

The film balances sci-fi, humor, and action to perfect effect, letting Smith show his comedic game, while Jones plays the straight man, using a more laconic humor and deadpan delivery.

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The film is rounded out with Rip Torn as Zed, the head of the department, and the lovely Linda Fiorentino as Doctor Laurel Weaver, who gets caught up in events, despite the fact that Kay has used the memory-wiping neuralyzer on her more than a few times.

Everyone gets there moment in the film, we get a hint of why Kay is as somber as he is, Jay takes everything in stride with a wiseass attitude never quite succumbing to the wonder and strangeness around him.

There are tons of in-jokes, especially if you can recognize most of the folks on the alien monitoring screen. Rick Baker, most famous for his work on the werewolf transformation in the always awesome An American Werewolf in London, created all the creature effects for the film, and they look great, and decidedly alien.

Everything in this film just seems to work, and the film works great as a one-off, I’ll be honest I can’t even tell you what happens in the second or third film, but this one, this one is just so much fun. When I worked in a video store we would throw this one, saying the lines back and forth, and play the credits through so we could hear both Will Smith’s song, and Danny Elfman’s fantastic score.

This is one of the films that just helped catapult Will Smith into superstardom, but Jones steals the show from him every chance he gets with that fantastic delivery of his.

What do you think? And what’s your favorite Will Smith movie?

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Audrey says:

    Loved this movie and the others Men In Black btw !! 🙂 I’m a Huge fan of Will Smith till my teenage years.
    Arf hard question guys you’re asking there ! Well, one of my fav is definitely “I am a Legend” (great story, great movie, great actings, and great music), and I love a lot also “The Pursuit of Happiness”.
    Well actually love a lot from Will Smith lol ! But i think these boths are my favs 🙂

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