Men in Black (1997 film)

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Oh yeah, it's worth it...If you're strong enough.
You will dress only in attire specially sanctioned by MIB Special Services. You'll conform to the identity we give you, eat where we tell you, live where we tell you. From now on, you'll have no identifying marks of any kind. You will not stand out in any way. Your entire image is crafted to leave no lasting memory with anyone you encounter. You are a rumor, recognizable only as déjà vu and dismissed just as quickly. You don't exist; you were never even born. Anonymity is your name, silence your native tongue. You are no longer part of the System. You are above the System. Over it. Beyond it. We're "them". We're "they". We are the Men in Black.

Men in Black is a 1997 film about a street-smart cop from the New York City Police Department who is recruited by a veteran government agent to a secret government agency that monitors and polices alien activity on Earth, unbeknownst to the public.

Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld. Written by Ed Solomon, based on The Men in Black by Lowell Cunningham.
Protecting the earth from the scum of the universe.

Agent K[edit]

I want you on the next transport off this rock, or I'm gonna shoot you where it don't grow back.
  • You sold a reverberating carbonizer with mutate capacity to an unlicensed cephalopoid, Jeebs, you piece of...!
  • [To Jeebs] I want you on the next transport off this rock, or I'm gonna shoot you where it don't grow back.
  • A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals, and you know it.
  • 1,500 years ago, everybody knew that the Earth was the center of the universe. 500 years ago, everybody knew that the Earth was flat. And 15 minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you'll know tomorrow.
  • That is a lot of fun, it's a universal translator. We're not even supposed to have it, and I'll tell you why: human thought is so primitive, it's looked upon as an infectious disease in some of the better galaxies. That kind of makes you proud, doesn't it?
  • [After J accidentally activates a device that causes havoc around the headquarters] This thing caused the 1977 New York blackout. Practical joke by the Great Attractor. He thought it was funny as hell.
  • Imagine a giant cockroach, with unlimited strength, a massive inferiority complex, and a real short temper, is tear-assing around Manhattan island in a brand new Edgar suit. That sound like fun?
  • [To Beatrice] No, ma'am. We at the FBI do not have a sense of humor we're aware of.

James Darrell Edwards / Agent J[edit]

You see this?! Huh?! NYPD! Means I will knock your punk-ass down!
  • You see this?! Huh?! NYPD! Means I will knock your punk-ass down!
  • You trying to catch a beat-down, huh?!
  • [to Agent K, while wearing his suit for the first time] You know what the difference is between you and me? I make this look good.

Dr. Laurel Weaver[edit]

Interesting job you guys have.
  • I hate the living.
  • [examining Rosenberg's corpse] Oh, my God! [laughs] Whoa, buddy, what are you?
  • [to J and K] Interesting job you guys have.

Jack Jeebs[edit]

  • [Regrowing his head after K has blown it off] You insensitive prick! Do you have any idea how much that stings?
  • [after being yelled at by K for selling a reverberating carbonizer with mutate capacity to an unlicensed cephalopoid] He looked alright to me!

Zed[edit]

  • [voiceover, as Edwards becomes Agent J] You will dress only in attire specially sanctioned by MIB Special Services. You'll conform to the identity we give you, eat where we tell you, live where we tell you. From now on, you'll have no identifying marks of any kind. You will not stand out in any way. Your entire image is crafted to leave no lasting memory with anyone you encounter. You are a rumor, recognizable only as déjà vu and dismissed just as quickly. You don't exist; you were never even born. Anonymity is your name, silence your native tongue. You are no longer part of the System. You are above the System. Over it. Beyond it. We're "them". We're "they". We are the Men in Black.
  • We're not hosting an intergalactic kegger down here.
  • The twins keep us on Centaurian time, standard 37-hour day. Give it a few months. You'll get used to it. Or you'll have a psychotic episode.
  • Containment may be a moot point, old friend. The exodus continues. It's like the party's over and the last one to leave gets stuck with the check.
  • [Yelling at the worms as they desert their posts] YOU SORRY LITTLE INGRATES!

Dialogue[edit]

Agent K: Que dices si te rompo la cara?(What do you say if I break your face?) [the Guy smiles and nods. He stops, and his own smile broadens and he drops a hand on the Guy's shoulder] No hablas ni una palabra del español, verdad, amigo? (You don't speak a word of Spanish, do you, friend?) [again, the Guy smiles and nods. He looks back at Agent D] We got a winner. [to the others];; Los restos estan libres a irse. Lárgense! (The rest of you are free to go. Scram!)

Edgar: [from inside the house] I go out, I work my butt off to make a living, all I want is to come home to a nice clean house, with a nice fat steak on the table, but instead, I get this. It looks like poison. Don't you take that away! I'm eating that, dammit! It is poison, isn't it? I swear to God, I would not be surprised if it was, the way you skulk around here like a dog been hit too much, or ain't been hit enough. I can't make up my mind. You're useless, Beatrice. The only thing that pulls its weight around here is my goddamn truck! [an alien spaceship crashes into his truck. opens the door with a shotgun in his hand, he surveys the wreckage] Figures. [begins to walk over to the wreckage]
Beatrice: [comes out to see the wreckage] What the heck is it, Edgar?
Edgar: Get your big butt back in the house!
[Beatrice does so as Edgar approaches the crater]
Bug: [unseen] Place projectile weapon on the ground.
Edgar: You can have my gun... [cocks it] ...when you pry it from my cold dead fingers.
Bug: Your proposal is acceptable.
[The Bug seizes Edgar and pulls him down into the crater, eating him up, then dresses in his skin and clothes. It climbs out and enters the house]
Beatrice: Edgar, what on earth was that?
Edgar/Bug: Sugar.
Beatrice: I've never seen sugar do that.
Edgar/Bug: Give me sugar. [Beatrice holds up the sugar bowl from the kitchen table] In water. [she puts a teaspoon of sugar into a glass of water and holds it up] More. [confused, Beatrice adds some more sugar to the glass] More.
[She empties all the sugar into the glass and gives it to Edgar/Bug, who noisily guzzles it]
Beatrice: Edgar, your skin is hangin' off your bones.
Edgar/Bug: Huh? [looks at his reflection] Oh, yeah. [grabs his scalp and stretches it back against his skull] There. Is that better?
[A shocked Beatrice faints]

Inspector: Why do you suppose none of the other officers saw either of these two events?
James: Well, sir, some of the other officers are a little soggy arond the midsection. I guess that's why they weren't able to keep up.
Sergeant: Hey, Edwards, if you were half the man I am -
James: What the hell are you talking about? I am half the man that you are.

[The MIB recruits' firing range test ends after James fires one shot]
Zed: Edwards, what the hell happened?!
James: Hesitated.
Zed: [brings forward a cardboard cutout of a little girl, shot between the eyes] May I ask why you felt little Tiffany deserved to die?
James: Well, she was the only one that actually seemed dangerous at the time, sir.
Zed: How'd you come to that conclusion?
James: Well, first I was gonna pop this guy hangin' from the streetlight, and then I realized, you know, he's just workin' out. How would I feel if somebody come runnin' into the gym, bust me in my ass while I'm on the treadmill? Then I saw this, uh, snarling beast guy...and I noticed he had a tissue in his hand and I'm realizing, he's not snarling, he's sneezing. You know, ain't no real threat there. Then I saw little Tiffany. I'm thinkin', you know, eight-year-old white girl, middle of the ghetto, bunch of monsters this time of night, with quantum physics books? She 'bout to start some shit, Zed. She's about eight years old. Those books are way too advanced for her. If you ask me, I'd say she's up to somethin'. And to be honest, I'd appreciate it if you eased up off my back about it. [Zed looks at him] Or do I owe her an apology? [to other recruits, as Zed leaves the room] That was a good shot, though, right?

[At MIB headquarters, K diverts James from following the other recruits to an "eye exam" that will erase their memories.]
Agent K: Where are you going?
James: Yo. Hey, man, what the hell is all this?
[The two begin walking; K hands James a file]
Agent K: Back in the mid-1950s the government started a little underfunded agency with the simple and laughable purpose of establishing contact with a race not of this planet. Everybody thought the agency was a joke, except the aliens who made contact March 2, 1961, outside New York. There were nine of us the first night: seven agents, one astronomer, and one dumb kid who got lost on the wrong back road.
James: [noticing a picture of K giving an alien flowers] Aww, you brought that tall man some flowers.
Agent K: [points] This way. They were a group of intergalactic refugees. Wanted to use the earth as an apolitical zone for creatures without a planet. Did you ever see the movie Casablanca? [James nods] Same thing, except no Nazis.
James: Oh.
Agent K: We agreed, and we concealed all the evidence of their landing.
James: [looking at the picture] Uh-huh. So these are real flying saucers, and the World's Fair was just a cover-up for their landing.
Agent K: Why else would we hold it in Queens? More non-humans arrive every year and they live among us in secret.
James: Um, look, I'm sorry, not to change the subject or anything, but when was the last time you had a CAT scan?
Agent K: 'Bout six months ago, it's company policy.
James: Right, you should make another appointment. Um, look, tell your boy Zed I had an absolutely wonderful time, and thank you for everything, but, uh... [handing the file back] ...why don't you show me the door?

Agent K: All right, kid, here's the deal. At any given time there are around fifteen hundred aliens on the planet, most of them right here in Manhattan. And most of them are decent enough, they're just trying to make a living.
James: Cab drivers.
Agent K: No, not as many as you'd think. Humans, for the most part, don't have a clue. They don't want one or need one, either. They're happy. They think they have a good bead on things.
James: But why? Why the big secret? People are smart. They can handle it.
Agent K: A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it. Fifteen hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat. And fifteen minutes ago, you knew that people were alone on this planet. Imagine what you'll know tomorrow.
James: What's the catch?
Agent K: The catch? The catch is you will sever every human contact. Nobody will ever know you exist anywhere...Ever. I'll give you 'til sunrise to think it over. [walks away]
James: Hey! Is it worth it?
Agent K: Oh yeah, it's worth it. [pause] If you're strong enough.

James: All right. I'm in, because there's some next-level shit goin’ on around here, and I'm with that. But before you get to beamin' me up, there's a couple of things I want you to understand. First off, you chose me, so you recognize the skills, and I don't want nobody callin' me "son" or "kid" or "sport" or nothin' like that. Cool?
Agent K: Cool, whatever you say, slick. But I need to tell you something about all your "skills". [they enter MIB headquarters] As of right now, they mean precisely...dick.

[Agent K shows James around MIB headquarters.]
James: Hey, uh, what--what branch of the government do we report to?
Agent K: Well, none. They ask too many questions.
James: So who pays for all this?
Agent K: We hold the patents on a few gadgets that we confiscated from out-of-state visitors, um...Velcro, microwave ovens, liposuction... [shows James a tiny disc] This is a fascinating little gadget. It's going to replace CD's soon. Guess I'll have to buy the White Album again. [points out another device] Oh, that is a lot of fun. It's a universal translator. We're not even supposed to have it, and I'll tell you why.
[turns it on; it plays a distorted echo of his words]
Agent K: Human thought is so primitive, it's looked upon as an infectious disease in some of the better galaxies. [turns it off] That kinda makes you proud, doesn't it, huh?

Zed: Edwards! Let's put it on.
James: Put what on?
Zed: The last suit you'll ever wear.

Agent K: [neuralyzing Beatrice after she tells them her story] Alright, Beatrice, there was no alien. The flash of light you saw in the sky was not a UFO. Swamp gas from a weather balloon was trapped in a thermal pocket, and refracted light from Venus.
Agent J: Wait, wait, wait a minute. So, you just flash that thing, it erases her memory, and you just come up with a new one?
Agent K: A standard issue Neuralyzer.
Agent J: And that weak-ass story's the best you can come up with?
Agent K: Yeah. [to Beatrice] On a more personal note, Beatrice, Edgar ran off with an old girlfriend. You're gonna go stay with your mom a couple nights, you're gonna get over it, and decide you're better off.
Agent J: Well, yeah, 'cause, 'cause, he never appreciated you anyway. In fact, you know what, you kicked him out! And now that he's gone, you're gonna go in town, go to Bloomingdale's, get yourself some nice dresses, get yourself some shoes, go somewhere maybe, get a facial, and, uh, oh, hire a decorator to come into this place quick, 'cause, damn!
[Beatrice is looking at J with a blank stare]

[A police officer pushes a stretcher with Rosenberg's corpse and a cat on top]
Police Officer: Where do you want contestant number three?
Dr. Laurel Weaver: Just leave it there.

Dr. Laurel Weaver: Look at this.
Agent J: What the hell was that?
[J touches Rosenberg’s ear and it unlocks the head showing a small control room containing alien Rosenberg]
Little Green Alien Gentle Rosenberg: [struggling to speak] Must.....To Prevent.....Contest.
Agent J: It's okay. What are you tryin' to say?
Little Green Alien Gentle Rosenberg: Prevent.
Agent J: Prevent. Struggle?
Little Green Alien Gentle Rosenberg: [shaking his head] No...To Prevent.
Dr. Laurel Weaver: War?
Little Green Alien Gentle Rosenberg: [nodding his head up and down slowly] War. The galaxy...is on...Orion's....Be-be---What is word?
Agent J: Bed? Belt? Orion's Belt? [Little Green Alien Gentle Rosenberg nods as the control room shuts down and he dies; Orion looks down from a ledge and meows] To prevent war the galaxy is on Orion's belt. What the hell does that mean? [to K] Dr., uh...Whatever, come here.
Dr. Laurel Weaver: Dr. Whatever? Hey, you guys aren't really from the Department of Health, are you?
Agent K: Rosenberg. Aw, damn. The Arquillians are not gonna like this. This guy was one of the royal family.
Dr. Laurel Weaver: I knew it. This is an alien, and you guys are from some government agency trying to keep it under wraps.

Dr. Laurel Weaver: [still disoriented from being neuralyzed] Hey, whoever you guys are, you're gonna have to show me some ID if you're gonna be in the morgue.
Agent K: Oh, yes, of course, young lady. Have a look at this for me, please. [neuralyzes her again]
Agent J: [before he can fully put his shades on to protect himself from the flash of the neuralyzer] Would you stop that?!
Agent K: What?!
Agent J: That thing is gonna give her brain cancer or somethin'!
Agent K: Never hurt her before. Look, we've gotta get all the doors closed around here. Special Services'll be here any minute.
Agent J: "Never hurt her before"? How many times have you flashy-thinged that poor woman?!
Agent K: Couple.
Agent J: So, what, are you not worried about no long-term damage?
Agent K: A little.
Agent J: K, have you ever flashy-thinged me?
Agent K: No.
Agent J: I ain't playin’ wit you, K, have you ever flashy-thinged me?!
Agent K: No.

[As K and J arrive at the morgue to get Orion]
Agent J: Look, K, why don't you let me handle this one?
Agent K: What?
Agent J: Come on, man, all we gotta do is go in here and get a cat, it's not really that hard. But if you go in there, you're gonna lay your Jack Webb on her, start flashin' your brain ray all in her face, she's gonna wind up with leukemia and some shit. The woman's a doctor, she don't need you flashin' away half her med school classes. Five minutes.
Agent K: Two minutes.
[J goes in and K waits outside]

[Facing off with the Bug in the morgue, as he holds Laurel at gunpoint]
Agent K: Freeze it, Bug!
Agent J: Don't shoot! Don't shoot!
Dr. Laurel Weaver: Christ, you are thick!
Agent J: Look, how was I supposed to know?!
Dr. Laurel Weaver: What did I have to do, sing it for you?!
Agent J: Well, if you weren't coming on like some drunken prom date...!
Dr. Laurel Weaver: Oh, God, that is so typical! Any woman who shows yet the slightest hint of sexual independence...!
Edgar/Bug: Oh, everybody shut up!
Agent K: Let her go, shiteater.
Edgar/Bug: Now listen, monkey-boy! Compared to you humans, I'm on the top rung of the evolutionary ladder! So can it, all right?!
Agent K: You're breakin' my heart. Show me your face and I'll cure all your ills.
Edgar/Bug: You ever pulled the wings off a fly? Do you care to see the fly get even?!
Agent K: How far do you think you're gonna get without your ship, if that's what you call that piece of space trash we've got locked up in the office?
Edgar/Bug: Put your weapons down!
Agent K: Never gonna happen, insect.
Agent J: It's okay, Laurel.
Dr. Laurel Weaver: How...is...it...okay?
Agent J: I'm sayin’ it's gon' be okay.
Edgar/Bug: Don't bet on it, meatsack! [takes Laurel, who screams, and jumps out the window onto the street]

Agent J: You do know Elvis is dead, right?
Agent K: No, Elvis is not dead, he just went home.

Dr. Laurel Weaver: You don't wanna eat me. I'm a very important person on my planet. Like a queen. A goddess, even! There are those who worship me! I'm not telling you this to try to impress you, I'm just letting you know, it could start a war!
Edgar/Bug: Good, war! That means more food for my family, all seventy-eight million of them. That's a lot of mouths to feed, Your Highness.
Dr. Laurel Weaver: You're a wonderful dad, but I'm staying here!
[Edgar throws Laurel in a nearby tree and continues up the ladder into the ship]

Agent J: [after stepping on a cockroach, causing the Bug to freeze as he is climbing to the remaining ship] Uh-oh. I'm sorry. Was that your auntie? [the Bug turns toward J with a furious snarl] Oh. Then that must mean that-that's your uncle, then, huh? [points at another cockroach at his feet before squashing it] Y'know y'all look alike. [enraged, the Bug descends to the ground and approaches him] Well, well. Big bad bug got a bit of a soft spot, huh? [squishes another cockroach; the Bug snarls in anger] See, what I can't understand is why you gotta come down bringin' all this ruckus! Snatchin' up galaxies and everything. [Laurel watches as the Bug moves closer to Agent J] My attitude is don't start nothin', won't be nothin’! [crushes two more cockroaches as the Bug walks right up to him, seething with anger] You need to ease up out my face before somethin' bad happen to you. [K loads his gun within the Bug's stomach; smiles] Too late.
[K shoots, blowing the Bug in half and freeing himself. They are covered in bug guts. J picks up the galaxy]
Agent K: [calling the headquarters] Zed, call the Arquillians, tell them we have the galaxy.
Zed: [on the phone] You got it, friend.
[K hangs up]
Agent J: Goin' to get ya gun back, huh?
Agent K: I like this gun.
Agent J: Yeah, well, while you were in there playin' around, I was down here doin' all the work. First, I had to bean him in the head with the big rock. Then I was gonna hit him with a two by four. He kicked me. Y'know, it hurt. Then I got the fire. I was "yah!" with the fire.
[Unknown to them, the half of the Bug creeps up to them]
Agent K: Not bad for your second day of work is it?
Agent J: This definitely rates a 9.0 on my Weird Shit-o-Meter.
Agent K: Should've been here for the Zeronian migration in 1968. I guess you weren't even alive in '68.
[The half of the Bug appears behind them and was about to eat them, but is blasted to pieces. They turn around to see Laurel, who's holding the big gun]
Laurel: [grinning] Interesting job you guys have.

Agent J: K, um, look. I know we got these rules and everything, but I was thinking. She did help us bust that Bug; maybe we didn't have to flashy-thing her. [K pulls out the neuralyzer] K, come on, man. What - who's she gonna tell? She hang out with all dead people.
Agent K: It's not for her. It's for me.
Agent J: What?
Agent K: [looking up at the sky] They're beautiful, aren't they? Stars. You know, I never look at them anymore, but they actually are quite, um...beautiful.
Agent J: Uh, K, you're frightening your partner.
Agent K: I haven't been training a partner, I've been training a replacement.
Agent J: Wait a minute, K. I cannot do this job by myself.
Dr. Laurel Weaver: 'Hey, guys, my apartment isn’t anywhere near here. It’s not even on the same island.
Agent K: [pointing out neuralyzer controls to J] Days. Months. Years. Always face it forward. [hands it to J]
Agent J: K...
Agent K: I've just been down the gullet of an interstellar cockroach, kid. That's one of a hundred memories that I don't want. [J puts on his sunglasses] See you around, James.
Agent J: [raising the neuralyzer] No, you won't.
[he triggers it; the flash whites out the screen]

[Last lines]
[J gathers up some tabloids whose front pages show events from the pursuit of the Bug, as well as one that shows K reunited with his girlfriend after supposedly waking from a 35-year coma. He takes them and a hot dog to Laurel, who has now joined MIB as Agent L and partnered with J.]
Agent L: Hey, J! Zed called. The High Councilor from Solaxiant 9 wants floor seats for the Knicks-Bulls game.
Agent J: All right, let's put in a call to Dennis Rodman. He's from that planet. [hands L her hot dog]
Agent L: Rodman? You're kidding.
Agent J: Nope.
Agent L: Not much of a disguise.

About Men in Black (1997 film)[edit]

[T]he Men in Black aren't merry entrepreneurs, like the Ghostbusters. They're cold-blooded bureaucrats whose job is to control and suppress information. ~ Mick LaSalle
It seems to me like the sequels weren’t dealing with the humanity of the [first] movie. The other thing that I really loved in writing the first Men in Black was that it really was about how we humans think we’re so important, but in fact we don’t know anything that’s really going on. And so that was a very human experience, and to me, the story of Men in Black was about a cocky human being who gets humbled and realizes that he ain’t even close to the center of the universe. In fact, the universe, the world, what’s important, is nothing that he ever thought about. Reality isn’t anything like he ever thought. It’s a humbling blow. It’s a very human experience. ~ Ed Solomon
“Men in Black” is set in New York at the suggestion of its director, a native son, and that sets up inventive use of such landmarks as the Guggenheim Museum, the old World’s Fair grounds in Queens and the Battery Park vent room for the Holland Tunnel, plus the expected jokes about what percentage of cabbies are not of this Earth.
Hard to ignore because it’s partly unexpected is the film’s slime factor. “Men in Black” has periodic moments of gross-out humor that will not be to everyone’s taste, and when Edgar the invader finally reveals himself, he turns out to be more disturbing and off-putting than the film’s genial tone would have you expect.
But mostly what you get with “Men in Black” is the opportunity to spend some quality time with the Kings of Cool in a world where inconvenient memories get erased and supermarket tabloids offer the most reliable alien tips. It’s not the traditional world where only the bad guys wore black, but you but you already knew that, didn’t you? ~ Kenneth Turan
  • "Men in Black," the second Will-Smith-versus-the- aliens picture, is a high- tech comedy, more along the lines of a tight little action movie than a bona fide blockbuster. It was the smallest of the big summer films, the most slickly made -- and the most old-fashioned.
    Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, "Men in Black" has the gloss and the wit of Sonnenfeld's other comedies ("Get Shorty," "The Addams Family"). Sonnenfeld uses odd angles and wide lenses to view the action with a sardonic eye, as if the onscreen events were a joke between director and audience. But if "Men in Black" is a joke, who's the joke on?
  • Men in Black came out just as digital effects were starting to rise to prominence and here they look very, very dated in almost every single shot. They almost feel like you could pause the movie, stick your hand onto the screen, and pull them off like a sticker. It’s that bad. On the other hand, that’s also because the film uses those effects so ambitiously. Men in Black uses full, CG characters years before Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace or The Lord of the Rings did (though they were created differently). So although the effects date the film poorly, it’s also a little bit charming, since everything else in the movie works so well.
    Put all of that together and 1997's Men in Black today looks, in 2019, like the Missing Link of Hollywood blockbusters. A film that bridges the gap between the old and the new. It blends the legendary Amblin tone of the ‘80s with the soon-to-be-prevalent digital effects of the 2000s, under the umbrella of a comic book adaptation that would spawn a larger franchise, which is the kind of thing movie studios dream of.
  • What would be the first question to ask a space alien newly arrived on planet Earth? The dryly clever Men in Black has a novel answer: Carrying any fruits or vegetables? This, you see, is business as usual for the film's top-secret police and immigration authorities, dapper black-suited types who keep tabs on stray spacelings in the New York area. There are a lot of these visitors. They come in all shapes and sizes. Some tote cartons of Marlboros for the trip back home.
  • There's a jarring discrepancy between the film's plot, which tosses around the fate of galaxies yet still manages to be inconsequential, and its imposing scale. Certain sets, like the pawnshop lighted by Edward Hopper and the vast Eero Saarinen-inspired Men in Black headquarters, are studied and elegant to the point of distraction. Yet with its production design by Bo Welch (Edward Scissorhands, A Little Princess), one of the enormously talented contributors to the film's overall look, Men in Black even makes its morgue inviting. (Scenes there feature Linda Fiorentino, who deftly underplays the city's deputy medical examiner and certainly belongs in the same movie with the supremely unruffled, tacitly hilarious Mr. Jones.)
    The film's technical team reflects exceptional stylistic harmony. Mr. Sonnenfeld, cinematographer on the early Coen brothers films, invokes the eccentric clarity of their work and that of Tim Burton (whose usual composer, Danny Elfman, contributes some black magic to the score). Mr. Welch also designed Mr. Burton's Beetlejuice, while Rick Baker's amazing makeup effects are on the same weird wavelength. Industrial Light and Magic deserves star billing in a film with approximately 250 special-effects shots. (Jurassic Park had 60.) The tricks don't share much continuity, but they can rock Mr. Smith in the tentacle of a space squid or make the Men in Blackmobile fly through the Midtown Tunnel upside down. A wonderfully playful coda will send you home with a smile.
  • In addition to a top-flight cast (Rip Torn is the big boss of the MIB), the behind-the-scenes talent involved in "Men in Black" is first-rate. Bo Welch, a three-time Oscar-nominated production designer, has created an MIB headquarters and research facility that is a hilarious mix of man, alien and machine. Ric Baker is the master of movie creatures. And director Barry Sonnenfield ("The Addams Family"), a former cinematographer, makes every shot look great. But if I had to pick the one person most responsible for the success of "Men in Black" it would be writer Ed Solomon, who invests all of his major characters with brains.
  • “It seems to me like the sequels weren’t dealing with the humanity of the [first] movie,” Solomon says. “The other thing that I really loved in writing the first Men in Black was that it really was about how we humans think we’re so important, but in fact we don’t know anything that’s really going on. And so that was a very human experience, and to me, the story of Men in Black was about a cocky human being who gets humbled and realizes that he ain’t even close to the center of the universe. In fact, the universe, the world, what’s important, is nothing that he ever thought about. Reality isn’t anything like he ever thought. It’s a humbling blow. It’s a very human experience.”
    Solomon continues, “So I just don’t know. I didn’t get that experience watching the sequels. I think their priorities were slightly different and, I’m not an expert on why a movie works or doesn’t. Sometimes, I’ll think something’s going to be a giant hit and it isn’t, and vice versa. I can’t say for sure, all I can say is that during my own personal experience of writing [Men in Black] that was what was important, and I didn’t get those elements as much from the other movies. That was my own takeaway from being the writer of the first and an audience member of the others.”
    Still, he’s quick to add that even if he didn’t think the sequels worked as a whole, there were still things to like.
    “I enjoyed parts of all of them. They just weren’t the way I would have done it, but I didn’t have the opportunity because I wasn’t working on them.” That might be so, but if and when someone else takes a crack at MIB, perhaps these are insights worth sitting on a park bench and appreciating here.
  • “Men in Black” is set in New York at the suggestion of its director, a native son, and that sets up inventive use of such landmarks as the Guggenheim Museum, the old World’s Fair grounds in Queens and the Battery Park vent room for the Holland Tunnel, plus the expected jokes about what percentage of cabbies are not of this Earth.
    Hard to ignore because it’s partly unexpected is the film’s slime factor. “Men in Black” has periodic moments of gross-out humor that will not be to everyone’s taste, and when Edgar the invader finally reveals himself, he turns out to be more disturbing and off-putting than the film’s genial tone would have you expect.
    But mostly what you get with “Men in Black” is the opportunity to spend some quality time with the Kings of Cool in a world where inconvenient memories get erased and supermarket tabloids offer the most reliable alien tips. It’s not the traditional world where only the bad guys wore black, but you but you already knew that, didn’t you?

Cast[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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