Men in Black

Directed By: Barry Sonnenfeld

Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Will Smith, Linda Fiorentino, Vincent D’Onofrio, Rip Torn, and Tony Shalhoub

In light of Men in Black III’s upcoming release, STMR is doing a retro review series on the MIB trilogy.  We begin with the original 1997 film, Men in Black.  I must confess that I am a long time Will Smith fan.  I grew up watching The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and listening to “Summertime”.  His transition from a teenage rapper to one of the biggest movie stars of all time was impressive to watch.  Men in Black was his second megahit and cemented his status as a Hollywood heavy-hitter.  (Okay, let me step off of my dork soapbox and end my open fan letter to Mr. Smith and move on to the film).

Men in Black is a science fiction comedy that follows the inner workings of a secret organization created to deal with alien issues.  MIB’s role is to keep Earth safe, keep the general population unaware of alien life, and to maintain intergalactic peace.  Agent K’s (Tommy Lee Jones) partner has just retired, and he is looking for a replacement.  James Edwards (Smith) is a hotheaded New York detective who unknowingly has a close encounter with an alien and shows promise as a potential agent.  After a rigorous and at times hilarious screening process, James decides to give up his life and his identity and join MIB as Agent J.

One of J’s first big assignments is to deal with the threat of a looming intergalactic war.  A member of a race of alien bugs has arrived on Earth to search for the “galaxy.”  This giant cockroach inhabits the body of Edgar (Vincent D’Onofrio), and begins to wreak havoc in New York City.  He kills alien royalty and sets off a chain of events that could lead to the destruction of Earth.  Agents J and K work together to foil the Bug’s plans.

MIB is an absolute delight.  The writing is clever and fast-paced.  The special effects are fantastic, and the plot is engaging.  Most significantly, Jones and Smith have amazing chemistry, reminiscent of Dragnet.  Jones plays Agent K as a sarcastic, straight to the point, seasoned vet, who does not blink.  Smith’s Agent J is a young, cocky newbie who can actually back up his trash talking.  The banter between the two drives the film.  MIB is a classic that can be enjoyed by young and old alike.  Even today, if I stumble upon MIB while flipping through cable channels, it’s hard not to watch and “bounce” with Smith and the aliens.  Grab a Dasani and enjoy the flick.