Having not seen this film for years, I decided to check it out again. I was around 10/11 when it was theatrically released and it’s one of the first films I remember seeing at the cinema (some of the others are “Aladdin” and “Batman Forever” just in case you were wondering…) Anyways, does it hold up a staggering 11 years later? Let’s find out before I start to feel old again:
Men In Black (1997)
“Men in Black” is probably one of the first films I really loved. It’s an odd choice for a young filmic love in retrospect. Before I start the “proper” review, let me tell you a little story. I remember begging my father to buy “Men in Black” for me when we were in a shopping mall, I remember his annoyed face as he handed the video over the counter for purchase. I even remember drawing Will Smith’s character in full MIB garb (I guess Tommy Lee Jones’ trademark crag-tacular face was too intricate for my artistic skills at the time) However, just because I loved this film as a kid, it doesn’t mean I’ll be reviewing it through rose-tinted glasses. I mean as a child, I thought drinking white spirit was a good idea (true story) so I’m looking at this film objectively and reviewing what I see, not what I remember.
“You know what the difference is between you and me? I make this look good.”
The plot revolves around a secret organisation called the Men in Black. Their job is to monitor and control alien life on this planet. When veteran Agent Kay (Tommy Lee Jones) is forced to recruit a new partner, he picks young, dynamic N.Y.P.D. officer James Edwards (Will Smith). I could tell you more but then I’d have to “flashy thing” you…
So, is “Men in Black” the film I remembered it to be? Well, yes and no. Yes as in it’s still great but no in the way that I get much more out of this film now. I love the weird ‘n’ wonderful Rick Baker creations that permeate the film. Some of the aliens are just fantastically designed. I love the whole concept of the film too. I think we’ve all got a conspiracy theorist in us somewhere, telling us aliens have landed and it’s all covered up, man. All of that stuff really appeals to me.
The pairing of Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith is a perfect example of how to do the “chalk and cheese” buddy comedy duo. Below is how not to do it:
Another thing “Men in Black” has going for it is the Danny Elfman score. It’s brilliant. Elfman just strikes the tone perfectly with the main MIB theme and is in my opinion some of his best work. It’s also very funny. Some of the interactions between Jay and Kay are genius.
So, anything bad about this film? Well, not really. The “bug” is villainous, Jay and Kay are great and Dr. Weaver (Linda Fiorentino) is suitably sexy and sarcastic in the role. The aliens are all good (especially the Worm guys) and the scale is fantastically judged. Talking of scale, I remember the ending blowing my mind as a child and it really made me smile this time. Mind-fuckery at its most family friendly.
“You don’t like it, you can kiss my furry, little butt.”
Eurgh! I know- a sappy “I love this film” review. I really do, though. I wish they made more films like this these days (MIB II was so disappointing). Watching this and then reflecting on “Step Brothers” and the god-awful “Meet The Spartans” leaves me asking one question- “Where have all the good comedies gone?”
Anyway- “Men in Black” gets an awesome