Plot: As most of the world goes through the usual motions of life, an elite squad of agents ensure the safety and liberties of those citizens, as well as the rights of hundreds of alien life forms who share the planet. Of course, the public has no idea these aliens are real or the constant intergalactic threats that loom, but that is because the Men in Black are that good at what they do. Kay (Tommy Lee Jones) needs a new partner and after quite an impressive pursuit of an alien fugitive, Jay (Will Smith) catches the attention of the veteran agent. He is a little more boisterous than the agency is used to, but his skills are undeniable and his arrival is well timed, as an alien bug has crash landed and seeks to ensure the planet’s destruction. As this bug wanders around wearing the skin of a human, Kay and Jay try to track him down, but soon the situation escalates when an alien prince is assassinated. Jay’s initiation is a rough one, but such is the life of an MiB operative. Can the two manage to subvert the planet’s eradication, or will this be the shortest career in MiB history?
Entertainment Value: While Men in Black veers from the darker roots of the material, it manages to offer a brisk, fun experience. I am no fan of Will Smith, but he is offset well by Tommy Lee Jones, so that helps a lot. Smith is his usual shouting, obnoxious self, while Jones brings a more regimented, old school presence, which he breaks at times for great comic relief. He was a great choice for the all business, but big hearted Kay, carrying the movie quite well. I also love Linda Fiorentino here, as she brings such charisma and humor, while Rip Torn is well cast in a smaller role. Of course, the various aliens also manage to steal some scenes as well, such as Tony Shalhoub as the shady, nervous arms dealer. The movie’s blend of practical and CGI effects has held up mostly well, better than a lot of similar effects laden pictures. The narrative is fine and I appreciate how it is made clear that these kind of doomsday situations are commonplace, so it is just business as usual at MiB. Of course, this one is all basic humor and special effects, so there’s minimal substance or depth involved. Jones is able to ground things well enough, but this is pure popcorn sci/fi, plain and simple. But it is also a fun watch, if you can tune out Smith’s annoying presence. I think Men in Black is a solid Hollywood blockbuster, one that seems to improve with time.
No nakedness. Fiorentino is red hot and gives off sexual charisma like a fountain, but of course, this is a wholesome alien movie, so no sexual content. No blood either, or at least not human blood. But while bloodshed is absent, we do have buckets of alien goop on hand, splattered all over the place. Exploding heads, faces that break apart to reveal hidden aliens, tentacle mayhem, and an alien that is obliterated from the inside out, all giving us ample goop, slime, and ooze. The effects have held up mostly well, perhaps thanks to the frequent use of practical elements, in addition to some solid, some not so solid CGI visuals. The scene where Jay is shaken around by a tentacle looks awful for example, but other moments still hold up and in truth, look better than some CGI that was created years later. In the end, no bloodshed, but plenty of goop, which is like gore for the sci/fi crowd, I think. The dialogue here is fine, how good depends on your own tolerance of Smith’s forced performance. Jones has some great lines as well, but how much you appreciate Smith’s style will dictate how much of the dialogue and humor lands for you. The movie is pretty straight forward popcorn sci/fi, but all of the goop and some sly humor earn one crazy point.
Overall Insanity: 1/10