Men in Black (1997) starring Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Linda Fiorentino, Vincent D'Onofrio, Rip Torn, Tony Shalhoub, Siobhan Fallon directed by Barry Sonnenfeld Movie Review

Men in Black (1997)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Will Smith in Men in Black (1997)

Smith and Jones Jay Kay Impersonation

Released back in 1997 "Men in Black" put simply is a very stereotypical but also hugely entertaining 2 sided movie with one of those sides being a comedy about aliens. Although at times feeling like a pastiche on more serious alien conspiracy movies, it works more on the premise that aliens are living amongst us and a top secret government agency are in charge of both monitoring the alien activity but also keeping the peace.

When New York Officer James Darrel Edwards (Will Smith - Independence Day) comes across a rather strange criminal with two sets of eye lids he finds himself recruited to a top secret government agency by Agent Kay (Tommy Lee Jones - Volcano), taking on the name of Agent Jay. There job is to manage all the aliens who are secretly living on the planet disguised as humans. Unbeknown to Jay, as well as the rest of the population, aliens have been living on earth for years with the special agency monitoring all their activities. But with a threat of an attack when an Alien Bug lands on earth, Jay and Kay must try to stop the Bug before all hell breaks out.

Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones in Men in Black (1997)

Having this storyline about Aliens being guests on Earth of course allows "Men in Black" to have fun with the various Aliens living amongst us and the human disguises which they use, as well as those who prefer to remain looking like aliens, such as the alien helpers at the agency. And it also means that it allows "Men in Black" to revel in special effects from the small such as a way an alien blinks with two sets of eye lids, through to the bigger elements such as the expected big climatic visual feast. The good thing is that it all works with much amusement to be had from all the alien activity and the hush hush agency who work to hide them from humans.

The second element to "Men in Black" is more your straight forward buddy movie with Will Smith playing the stereotypical wise cracking Jay to Tommy Lee Jones more dead pan sarcastic Kay. It's a traditional set up with them not so much firing off each other but providing plenty of humorous banter. But most importantly the blend works with both Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones putting in equally entertaining performance and making for a very enjoyable and memorable partnership.

What this means is that whilst "Men in Black" does have a storyline it becomes less important as the movie rolls on, focussing on the humour and the effects. The storyline isn't actually that terrible with the threat of an alien attack when a bug lands on earth to steal the galaxy from another alien. But it is very much there as more of a vehicle for fun rather than to deliver any real substance. But then it does help to stop "Men in Black" being just a series of imaginative set pieces.

Aside from the nice performances from Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, Rip Torn puts in a good turn as Chief Zed, Tony Shalhoub is amusing as sleazy alien Jack Jeebs and Vincent D'Onofrio is comically weird as Edgar. Sadly whilst Linda Fiorentino looks good as mortician Laurel she adds little else to the movie other than her beauty. But then "Men in Black" is very much about setting up the partnership of Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones as Agents Jay and Kay and as such it works.

What this all boils down to is that "Men in Black" is a very entertaining movie with a nice mix of comedy and special effects. The combination of Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones make for a hugely memorable comedy pairing and although the storyline is not overly important it does help to stop "Men in Black" just being a series of set pieces and special effects. It's just a shame that they didn't leave it as it was rather than going on to make a less than impressive sequel.