Pros: Funny comedy surrounded by a decent enough story
Cons: Some scenes not for the faint of stomach
The Bottom Line:
A bit over gross at timesFilled with lots of laughs
"We at the FBI do not have a Sense of Humor We're Aware of."
For the last year and a half, I've been hanging out weekly with a couple of friends watching science fiction. It's been great because I've been catching some of the movies I've managed to miss over the years or rewatching old favorites. One of those new to me movies was Men in Black. At the time it came out, I wasn't remotely interested in watching it, and I've stubbornly stuck to that blind opinion. What a fool I've been.
The story introduces us to James Darrel Edwards III (Will Smith), an NYPD detective who winds up chasing a suspect who can really jump high. It's only as James is filling out his report that he meets Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) who seems to think the suspect is an alien. At least it sounds silly.
It isn't long before James has been recruited to join a secret organization that keeps track of aliens that live here on Earth. The newly christened Agent J gets a trial by fire when an alien lands intent on starting an intergalactic war. And if Agents K and J can stop him, Earth will be the first casualty. Can they save the planet?
If all of this sounds a little serious, let me reassure you that this movie is a comedy. It takes itself seriously enough that you actually car about how the story turns out. But the story is secondary at times for the fun of the jokes. I was laughing the entire way through the film at the situations and lines.
Tommy Lee Jones absolutely makes the film. His Agent K is deadpan serious at all times. Some of the best laughs are just his delivery of his lines. Will Smith provides his own laughs by his much more realistic reactions to these unexpected situations. The rest of the actors are certainly fine as well, but this movie is definitely about the leads, and they make it. I can't imagine anyone else making this movie work quite as well.
The movie is also a special effects and makeup bonanza. There are so many aliens or humans made up to look like aliens that the budget must have been huge. All of it works, too. The movie originally came out in 1997. Occasionally, I'd see something that looked fake, but for the most part I bought what I was seeing. Okay, so I wasn't looking too closely because I wanted to believe it, but there wasn't too much that pulled me out of the story.
On the flip side, some of the effects are a bit too good. What do I mean by that? This movie is not for the weak of stomach. Several of the scenes were designed to be gross, and frankly I'm not sure it served any purpose. It seemed to just be gross to be gross. That was the one thing that kept me from fully enjoying the film.
With some of the aliens and the story line, I had a feeling that this movie was trying to be an homage to the old B films from the 50's and 60's. Of course, this one had better acting, storytelling, and slicker special effects, but the spirit was still there.
So I'm glad I finally watched Men in Black. It's a very funny science fiction movie that turns out to be quite entertaining.