Men in Black

User Score
8.8

Universal acclaim- based on 428 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 5 out of 428

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User Reviews

  1. Apr 3, 2016
    7
    The recent Pentagon report on aliens at Roswell, N.M., (which tells us there are no aliens) and the release of "Men in Black" (which tells us that the Earth is teeming with the suckers) have come together in some sort of delicious irony. Which one do you believe and which one do you laugh at? Whatever your choice, you can be sure of one thing, at least: "Men in Black" pumps much-neededThe recent Pentagon report on aliens at Roswell, N.M., (which tells us there are no aliens) and the release of "Men in Black" (which tells us that the Earth is teeming with the suckers) have come together in some sort of delicious irony. Which one do you believe and which one do you laugh at? Whatever your choice, you can be sure of one thing, at least: "Men in Black" pumps much-needed humor into the whole conspiratorial, doom-and-gloom subject. We can finally chuckle at the idea that we’re not alone.

    As with director Barry Sonnefeld’s "Addams Family Values," the movie’s completely on the surface. It’s all punch lines and sight gags, with its thematic concerns barely registering on the subatomic scale. If you retain anything after this movie it’ll be because you took dutiful notes or you’re just weird that way.

    For 98 soon-to-be-forgotten minutes, you can laugh at the extraterrestrial creatures who seem to have crawled, hopped and slithered out of Tim Burton’s bag (actually, they’re the inventive work of creature-meister Rick Baker and Industrial Light & Magic). Most important, you can enjoy the chemistry between alien-bashers Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith, who show up for duty with two different approaches to comedy.

    Smith is all sassy attitude, he’s the Fresh Prince turned NYPD cop. And he gets to say his favorite phrase -- "Now that’s what I’m talking about!" -- at least twice. Jones, whose interior is almost as tough as his exterior, grounds his partner’s antics with a dour, sure deadpan. With their dark suits, shades and official just-the-facts demeanor, they suggest the Blues Brothers trying to make it through an episode of "The X Files."

    When NYPD detective Smith is recruited by a mysterious government agent known only as K (Jones), he discovers a whole new vocation -- and a brave new world. Thousands of aliens, he learns, are either roving the planet in human disguise or rubbing flippers with each other in a government alien camp straight out of the "Star Wars" bar.

    It’s the job of the organization -- the Men in Black agency (MiB) -- to track down these out-of-town scum, capture ’em and book ’em. One of the MiB’s biggest occupational problems is keeping society unaware of its work. (We couldn’t handle such trauma, see.) This means employing a flashing device called a Neuralyzer that erases the memory of anyone who happens to witness an MiB alien bust.

    Smith, whose identity is erased and whose agency-given name is now J, is thrown into a mission right away. He and K have to save the world from a malevolent space maggot (in the hilariously loose-fitting human form of Vincent D’Onofrio) who plans to cause the usual, Earth-wide destruction. Their investigations bring them into frequent contact with Laura Weaver (Linda Fiorentino), a deputy medical examiner who’s too smart for her job ("I hate the living," she complains), and who proves very helpful.

    The movie, which is based on the Lowell Cunningham comic book series, throws out some wonderful implications, but they’re frustratingly few and far between.

    "Is it worth it?" asks the soon-to-be J, as he considers working for MiB.

    "Yeah, it’s worth it," says K, "if you’re strong enough."

    A comment like that suggests J will be emotionally -- as well as physically -- tested. But most of the time, his biggest problem is spattered alien slime. He doesn’t need strength, he needs a good dry cleaner.

    On another occasion, K declares that certain familiar innovations (e.g. Velcro, microwave ovens and liposuction) were actually plundered from captured aliens and are used to finance MiB. What a marvelous concept! But the movie never returns to this tip-of-the-iceberg revelation. Mostly, "Men in Black" (scripted by Ed Solomon) is about the laughable and the immediate:

    "Your skin is half off your bones," says D’Onofrio’s wife, after the unfortunate human has just been killed and his flesh used for the sinister maggot’s outer shell. The alien yanks and pulls his fleshy face until it’s stretched gruesomely across his face.

    "There, that’s better," he growls.

    Obviously, making a movie that’s genuinely funny and entertaining is already a great achievement (especially during the summer), but with a little more work, this movie could have been worthy of repeated viewings, a sci-fi gas for the ages. Instead, it’s just the best yuk of the week.
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  2. Feb 2, 2016
    8
    I present to you... possibly one of the best movies featuring both Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith. You'll pretty much enjoy it the same way as I did and you're going to love it.
  3. Nov 22, 2015
    9
    it is a good alien movie, Will smith is a good distraction, and the future teach(especially the guns) are flat out awesome. I think that Will Smith did not disappoint in this movie
  4. Apr 23, 2015
    8
    Have you ever seen a tabloid headline like this: "Woman gives birth to son of six-headed alien"? Men in Black, the new science fiction comedy from cinematographer-turned-director Barry Sonnenfeld (Get Shorty), postulates that such stories are not the result of fertile imaginations, but accurate representations of the truth. You see, ever since the 1960s, Earth has become an intergalacticHave you ever seen a tabloid headline like this: "Woman gives birth to son of six-headed alien"? Men in Black, the new science fiction comedy from cinematographer-turned-director Barry Sonnenfeld (Get Shorty), postulates that such stories are not the result of fertile imaginations, but accurate representations of the truth. You see, ever since the 1960s, Earth has become an intergalactic hideout for aliens in need of a place to lie low for a while. Currently, there are over 1500 visitors, most in New York City (based on personal experience, that number may be low), and their ranks include such high-profile names as Sylvester Stallone (he obviously had trouble mastering the language), Newt Gengrich (guess what he looks like in his natural form), and Dennis Rodman (who knew?).

    In many ways, Men in Black is the movie that Mars Attacks! wanted to be, but wasn't. This is a snappy, clever, often-funny motion picture that provides the perfect blend of science fiction-style action with comic dialogue. The screenplay, credited to Ed Solomon (and based on the Marvel comic book by Lowell Cunningham) has a sly, sophisticated edge that many blockbuster scripts lack. Sonnenfeld's direction is crisp and the editing is tight, resulting in a film that clocks in at a mere ninety-five minutes, which proves to be a nearly-perfect length.

    That's not to say that the movie is of masterpiece status, or even light on flaws. There are plenty of minor problems along the way, and the ending is somewhat rushed and anticlimactic. On the whole, however, viewers are less likely to remember the glitches than the clever one-liners, subtle parodies, and effective use of visual effects to integrate aliens into everyday existence. Men in Black's deliciously unconventional spirit lends a refreshing twist to a premise that has fueled numerous conspiracy theory movies and one currently-popular television series.

    The chief pleasure of Men in Black isn't being dazzled by the special effects, but enjoying the deadpan performances of Tommy Lee Jones (whose offhand attitude towards the most bizarre events would make Jack Webb proud) and Will Smith. This is a rare case when the multi-million dollar, computer-generated creatures don't upstage their real-life co-stars. Smith and Jones are a fine pair, and the film's focus on them never wavers. However, while the two leads can't complain about screen-time, the supporting players have all been short-changed. Linda Fiorentino, who gets third billing, is vastly underused, appearing only peripherally throughout. Vincent D'Onofrio (as the bad alien's human host) and Rip Torn (as Zed, the leader of the Men in Black) don't fare much better.

    A word of caution for those who expect to see Independence Day 2: despite the attempts of certain marketing campaigns to link the two, they're vastly different in scope and intent. Men in Black is an outright comedy (in fact, some of its satire is directed at movies like last year's box office champ), not a pastiche of worn sci-fi/adventure elements, and there's no big space battle to be found. In fact, from the opening credits to the closing ones, our heroes stay firmly rooted on terra firma. Those accepting Men in Black for what it is will likely agree that this is one of 1997's more satisfying big-budget offerings.
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  5. Jan 3, 2015
    7
    Funny and hilarious, and at times not very believable - but that doesn't really matter, now does it? The aliens are not supposed to look real and cool, and this is a comedy rather than a full-blooded action movie. The relationship between our two agents is a bit bumpy, but in the end, they find the same note to follow.
  6. Ozy
    Oct 1, 2014
    10
    This movie promised to be a fun, action packed sci fi comedy. It delivered on that 10/10 it definitely aint no documentary for those of you who are confused.
  7. Feb 3, 2014
    8
    Men In Black will always be remembered for its two hilarious front men and it's famous "mind-zapping" tool that is frequently used throughout the series. Although not the best, Men In Black almost makes it there.
  8. Jan 2, 2014
    8
    Really entertaining overall. Funny, action-packed, and intriguing, Men in Black is successful on really every front you could ask from a summer blockbuster. Not ground-breaking cinema in the least, this one is still a fun watch with great performances from Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith.
  9. Nov 13, 2013
    8
    Few words in my vocabulary can describe 'Men in Black' other than interesting. Will Smith's comic dialogue coupled with Lee Jones' cynical role generate a fair amount of laughs. The CGI doesn't really the hurt the film, like most times in a live-action movie.
  10. Nov 12, 2013
    7
    Men in Black attracts like a magnet.
    An extremely smart and comical extra terrestrial adventure, twisted with humanizing moments and characteristics. Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones click together in this well directed action comedy.
  11. Sep 1, 2013
    8
    A favourite 90's flick of mine that never gets old no matter how many times I've seen it, and was also one of the first more mature films I watched growing up (as I would have only been around 7 when I first saw it). Jones & Smith play off each other perfectly in this Sci-Fi/Comedy/Action flick that has a nice blend of all three genres. There have been similar films to this but I think MIBA favourite 90's flick of mine that never gets old no matter how many times I've seen it, and was also one of the first more mature films I watched growing up (as I would have only been around 7 when I first saw it). Jones & Smith play off each other perfectly in this Sci-Fi/Comedy/Action flick that has a nice blend of all three genres. There have been similar films to this but I think MIB pulled it off the best thanks to the actors and characters, and its one of those classic 90's flicks. Expand
  12. Jun 20, 2013
    7
    Men in Black was such an entertaining well acted sci-fi comedy. I enjoyed the chemistry between Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith and the bugs are kind of cool.
  13. May 12, 2013
    8
    Initially the plot may seem slow and coiled, but after some of the film we discover one of the best pairs of pop culture interpreted by exelente W.Smith and TLJones, besides a story that bet on its originality.
  14. Apr 26, 2013
    8
    A solidly conceived sci-fi action flick that embraces it silliness and offers up a bountiful mass of thrilling laughs.
  15. Mar 14, 2013
    9
    I utterly adored this movie when it came out. Still do, but my feeling towards it have mellowed over the years. It's funny, original and has one of the best lines in human history: "A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it." I love that line and it more or less defines my personal ideology. Overall: MIB was a fantastic movie of its time and is andI utterly adored this movie when it came out. Still do, but my feeling towards it have mellowed over the years. It's funny, original and has one of the best lines in human history: "A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it." I love that line and it more or less defines my personal ideology. Overall: MIB was a fantastic movie of its time and is and always will be a great classic. Expand
  16. Dec 21, 2012
    7
    A very,very overrated movie.It's a good movie but it does not at all deserve the praise it gets.The movie is quirky,has great special effects,and is funny,but it is also kind of dull.
  17. Dec 8, 2012
    9
    A great science fiction movie that will make us see that we are not alone.
  18. Nov 25, 2012
    8
    In terms of storyline, the film is pretty much disposable. But in terms of performances and over-the-top action, it's a slam dunk: Men In Black is a blast.
  19. Oct 2, 2011
    8
    "Men in Black" is a beast in entertaining the audience. It's joyfully unpredictable and fun with great characters. Great job, Barry Sonfield!!!
  20. Sep 17, 2011
    10
    I can't think of a single complaint I have about this movie. It's a great film that you can rewatch again and again. The casting choices were absolutely perfect, the special effects are dazzling (for their time), the story isn't hard to follow (but it's not too simple either), it's funny, and it's got great action sequences. A perfect action-comedy.
  21. CRL
    Aug 26, 2011
    10
    One of the best sci-fi comedies ever that plays perfectly off of the chemistry of its phenomenal leads and it's lighthearted and smart but still somewhat crazy plot.
  22. Oct 27, 2010
    8
    Here comes the Men in Black. they won't let you remember.
  23. Oct 27, 2010
    8
    a funny commendy with will smith and tommy lee jones they have great chemistry in this film . a decent plot that feels like it was just over to fast and not really given more time to devilpe into some thing more intresting with the focus being more on jokes . still a good film .
  24. AlanG
    Jun 17, 2010
    10
    Awesome. One of my favorite sci-fi flicks.
  25. [Anonymous]
    Feb 3, 2006
    7
    MIB isn't anything more than it is...lite-headed, sci-fi spoof carried well by two great actors. But if that's all you want, MIB will do the job. Don't be fooled by the image of two guys carrying big guns, as the action's not a big priority, and thus isn't impressive. For great alien-blasting action, watch Starship Troopers.
  26. AndrewM.
    May 17, 2004
    8
    Well made hokum! MIB is great fun and real sci-fi eye-candy throughout. The aliens are mostly comical characters and non-threatening but the story contains enough suspense to keep you gripped. Smith infuses the right amount of goofy nonchalance into his character to perfectly counter the earnest and dogmatic Jones. It's great fun with loads of thrills, spills and goo to keep you Well made hokum! MIB is great fun and real sci-fi eye-candy throughout. The aliens are mostly comical characters and non-threatening but the story contains enough suspense to keep you gripped. Smith infuses the right amount of goofy nonchalance into his character to perfectly counter the earnest and dogmatic Jones. It's great fun with loads of thrills, spills and goo to keep you glued 'til the messy end. One for the whole family. Expand
  27. PatC.
    Jan 5, 2004
    8
    Got it right the first time.
  28. X.X.
    Jul 3, 2002
    10
    I really enjoyed MIB. It was lighthearted without being stupid, had a definitive story line and was thoroughly entertaining. Anyone who gives it less than an 8 shouldnt watch sci-fi ;)
Metascore
71

Generally favorable reviews - based on 22 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 22
  2. Negative: 0 out of 22
  1. Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith give uproarious comic performances as government agents ordered to keep New York's monsters in Manhattan, where they'll blend right in with the rest of the confusion.
  2. 100
    The snappy sci-fi hoot Men in Black...is a kind of "Independence Day" for smart people.
  3. A genially twisted riff on the familiar alien invaders story, a lively summer entertainment that marries a deadpan sense of humor to the strangest creatures around.