Title: Men In Black
Directer: Barry Sonnenfeld
Writer: Ed Solomon
Seen on: Sky Comedy
Seen Before: Several times when younger but not for a few years now.
Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Will Smith, Vincent D’Onofrio, Rip Torn, Linda Fiorentino, Tony Shalhoub
Running Time: 98 minutes.
Favorite Performance: Will Smith as Agent J.
Favorite Line: “Did you ever flashy thing me?” asks Agent J. “No” says Agent K. “I ain’t playing with you, K. Did you ever flashy thing me?!” says J. “No.” repeats K.
Favorite Moment: I like the way Agent J tries to distract The Bug from leaving the planet, using fire, rocks, he gets smacked around, and then uses psychology, killing small cockroaches, pissing off The Bug, all whilst Agent K is inside The Bug, looking for his gun.
Thoughts: I watched this film originally when I was very young and I thought it was brilliant. And every time I do watch this film, it always fills the spot. This is a very well crafted science-fiction film with a comedic undertone that allows you to enjoy yourself. The direction is pretty solid, but what works best is the chemistry between several of the actors.
Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith make this film, with ease, I think their banter is integral to the enjoyment of the movie, they both have good one-liners and their partnership feels very fresh and fun, Tommy Lee Jones can do the wizened, grumpy mentor with ease, he comes across as funny, but also slightly melancholic at the passing years. He’s molding Agent J into a worthwhile Agent. It helps that Will Smith has an insurmountable amount of charisma that makes him a wonderful protagonist to follow, he has good one-liners, a good physical presence, including several action scenes, and good chemistry with Lee Jones. These two make the movie for me, they just capture that quintessential magic you need for such roles.
The concept of Men In Black is simple and magical: secret organisation that monitors and investigates aliens on planet Earth. It works because it doesn’t get too over-the-top, doesn’t overwhelm the story with exposition, it is quick, snappy, sets the plot up, and the fun begins, which works well. The ‘MacGuffin’, the Galaxy, is an interesting concept and I liked that they went in a different direction with it.
Edgar The Bug, by Vincent D’Onofrio, was fantastic casting, he is extremely creepy and disconcerting normally, let alone when he is able to manipulate his skin, or when he opens his mouth and tendrils come reaching out. Most of the time, when the creature is unveiled, it kind of ruins the previous good work, but the CGI in the film holds up substantially well, better than most from 1997. D’Onofrio’s movements and jerky walk made him seem very alien, which works very well. He is a strong villain as portrayed, and his characteristics of a bug make his actions seem natural.
The supporting act of Rip Torn is very strong, he has a very dry sense of humor and a characteristic that makes the idea of aliens seem the most natural thing in the world, he reminds me of M or Q in the ‘James Bond’ series, he’s very integral. Unfortunately, I am not a big fan of Linda Fiorentino, I feel she was the weakest of the main five, she’s an okay love interest, but the best chemistry was Agent J and K, which means she seemed a bit unneeded. The best she brings to the film is plot devices. However, she is harmless, so I don’t mind.
This is one of my favorite childhood films, it is extremely solid work from some good actors and a creative team that created a good, fun movie. I’d easily recommend it, especially with Men In Black 3 coming up soon this year.
Thumbs Up, 8 out of 10