Friday, May 25, 2012

#648. Men in Black (1997)

Directed By: Barry Sonnenfeld

Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Will Smith, Linda Fiorentino

Tag line: "Protecting the earth from the scum of the universe"

Trivia:  Will Smith, after reading the script, did not want to accept the role, but his wife Jada Pinkett Smith convinced him to take the part

Rick Baker is one of the most prolific makeup artists in the history of the cinema, a man whose name is synonymous with quality. In a career spanning five decades, Baker created more than his share of bizarre cinematic creatures, yet few were stranger than the ones he concocted for Barry Sonnefeld’s 1997 blockbuster Men in Black.

New York cop James Edwards (Will Smith) chases down a suspected criminal, only to find the “man” he is after isn’t even human! 

Enter "K" (Tommy Lee Jones), an agent for a top-secret organization known as the Men in Black, a covert branch of the United States government responsible for policing the activities of extraterrestrial life on this planet. 

It seems an alien insect recently landed on earth, intent on stealing a small trinket that houses an incredible energy. Hiding out in the body of an ignorant redneck (Vincent D’Onofrio), this bug's ultimate goal is to start an intergalactic war, one that would certainly result in the destruction of planet Earth. 

To find this bug, "K" teams up with the wily Edwards, who he recruits to be the Men in Black's newest agent.

Men in Black is a slick, entertaining movie that's equal parts comedy and sci-fi. Aside from Rick Baker’s deformed alien monsters - some so freakish that they defy logic - Men in Black boasts a plethora of cool gadgetry and high-tech weaponry, most of which we see in action. 

Yet more rewarding than its impressive effects or latex creations is the teaming of Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones as the agents on a top-secret mission. Whether playing the overconfident cop or the confused newbie, Smith’s skills as a comedic actor shine through. His first time out with “K”, Edwards (who is given the designation “J” when he joins the Men in Black) not only confronts an alien and his pregnant wife, but must help with the delivery of their new child, an infant sporting some very long tentacles (“Congratulations”, "K" says to the baby’s father, played by Patrick Breen, “it’s a squid”.). 

Where Smith’s character is the classic fish out of water, Jones’ "K" is the grizzled veteran, with more than a hint of cynicism in his approach to the job. Posing as FBI agents, he and "J" drop in on Beatrice (Siobhan Fallon), the wife of the man whose body now belongs to the bug. Having already been ridiculed by the local police for her take on what happened, Beatrice is at first reluctant to talk. 

Are you here to make fun of me too?” she asks "K" with a scowl. 

No ma’am”, "K" replies curtly, “we at the FBI do not have a sense of humor that we’re aware of”. 

Where “J”’s experiences as the new guy are a constant source of comedy, "K" gets his laughs by knowing exactly what to say in any given situation.

Men in Black was a huge success; released in 1997, the film went on to earn over $250 million at the U.S. box office alone. With so many entertaining variables wrapped together in one neat package, it's easy to see why.

1 comment:

Sir Phobos said...

It's too bad the sequel didn't hold up. I haven't seen 3 yet, though.

D'Onofrio was one of the best parts of the movie. Sugar! More sugar!