[Screen It]


(1997) (Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones) (PG-13)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Minor *Mild Mild Mild Moderate
Mild Minor Mild None Moderate
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
Minor Minor None Minor *Heavy

Sci-Fi: Two secret government agents must stop an extraterrestrial terrorist.
K (TOMMY LEE JONES) is a secret government agent whose job is keeping track of extraterrestrial activity on Earth. When his older partner decides to retire and have the memory of his work erased, K must find a new partner. The most likely candidate is NYPD cop James Edwards (WILL SMITH) who recently had a close encounter with an alien with some valuable information. After K and the head of the "Men in Black" operation, Zed (RIP TORN), pick James as their newest member, his identity on Earth is erased and he becomes known simply as J. Both K and J become concerned when the city's resident aliens, who are supposed to stay within the city perimeter, begin fleeing due to the presence of a "bug," or alien assassin. This terrorist takes over the body of Edgar (VICENT D'ONOFRIO), a backwoods farmer, and sets out on his mission that just might cause an intergalactic war. Also getting involved is Dr. Laurel Weaver (LINDA FIORENTINO), a medical examiner who often has her memory erased after seeing many alien bodies. From that point on, K and J must find the bug and prevent the Earth from being destroyed.
With the movie being heavily promoted and likened to last year's "Independence Day" and starring Will Smith from that film, it's very likely most kids will want to see this movie.
For language and sci-fi violence.
  • WILL SMITH plays the eager, wisecracking, and often overzealous cop who finds himself caught up in an unbelievable situation. Beyond some cursing, he's an okay role model.
  • TOMMY LEE JONES plays the deadpan agent who's seen and done it all before, and who vaporizes most of the aliens.


    OUR TAKE: 8.5 out of 10
    Finally a summer movie arrives that's exactly what the doctor ordered. "Men in Black" is big, outrageous, and a heck of a lot of fun to watch. Feeling much shorter than its runtime (of 96 minutes) -- which in an odd sort of way is a compliment -- the film never gets boring or too predictable. Director Barry Sonnenfeld ("Get Shorty" and the "Adams Family" movies), along with writers Lowell Cunningham and Ed Solomon, create such an imaginative, pre-existing world that you can't help but like the film. Feeling much like the original "Ghostbusters" from the 1980's, this production is filled with enough humor, special effects, and gross-out material (people being "slimed" by the leftovers of vaporized aliens) to satisfy nearly every audience member. Many things that we take for granted are explained in a new sci-fi way, and the agency's wall of aliens -- featuring Newt Gingrich, Sly Stallone, NBC weatherman Al Roker, and motivational guru Anthony Robbins among others -- is slyly hilarious, as is the use of tabloid newspapers as true sources of alien activity. Other fun bits include the bad alien looking and acting more and more like the Frankenstein monster, and his weak spot for Earth-based bugs being swatted or stepped on (while driving himself around in an exterminator truck). Will Smith is as engaging as ever and completes his one-two punch of alien invasion movies (the first being last year's "Independence Day") that will forever set him in the hearts of sci-fi fans. His disbelieving eyes and wisecracking comments play beautifully off the more stoic and deadpan Jones. Cranking up a similar character to what he played in "The Fugitive," Tommy Lee provides the basis for a great deal of the film's humor and action. His "been there, seen it all before" attitude is refreshing and totally believable in a film that needs a great big dose of suspension of disbelief. Of course that's what summer films are supposed to be about, and unlike most of the other movies this season, "Men In Black" succeeds on all levels. It's witty, clever script, matched with the great odd couple pairing of Jones and Smith with some wild special effects is highly entertaining, and this film is sure to be a box office smash. We thoroughly enjoyed it and give it an 8.5 out of 10.
    While some scenes appear to be scary at face value (and have scary looking creatures), so much of the movie is played out in a light-hearted, often humorous way, that much of that horror is diffused. That isn't to say, however, that very young kids won't be scared by the sight of some of these aliens/monsters -- they will and might have nightmares. And that of course is one reason the movie is rated PG-13, along with the use of 10 "s" words and a few other choice ones. Violence is heavy with a few people being killed off screen with the same happening to aliens on screen, but their deaths are more gooey than gory. Beyond that, many of the other categories are or are nearly void of objectionable material. Still, since you and/or your kids will probably want to see this, you should check out the content before doing so.

  • K mentions that James should watch his intake of vodka (while they're having dinner and after James has just learned that aliens are on the planet) and James might be a bit drunk (or just dazed after what he's seen).
  • Several aliens that are shot are pulverized into different colored goo that often covers people, and other than being slime-based, isn't bloody or particulary gory -- but there's often a lot of it.
  • Other aliens are shot, but have their heads grow back in a way that might be unsettling to younger kids. Likewise, Edgar's appearance gets worse as the story goes on, as if he's slightly decomposing.
  • Edgar kills two other aliens by quickly thrusting a sharpened tentacle through their necks (one of which is seen) but neither are bloody.
  • A newborn alien (looking like a squid/human combo) throws up on James.
  • There are several scenes with cockroaches for those who don't like them, including one where they crawl from Edgar's sleeves (and his hands appear to be rotting away). In another scene, James steps on several roaches, with some under-the-shoe squirting results.
  • Edgar (before he's an alien), isn't nice to his wife, telling her to "...get your big butt back in the house" and that the only thing that works around his house is his truck (implying that she doesn't).
  • Of course once he's an alien, he has both as he sets out to accomplish his goal no matter the carnage he (it) leaves behind.
  • Taken at face value, some of this movie's scenes would be scary, but with so much humor thrown in and the non-serious attitude everyone has toward the aliens, most of the frightening quality is diffused -- except for very young viewers who will probably take it all at face value.
  • The appearance of some of the alien creatures, Edgar, and the final monster might be scary to younger viewers, but most of their appearances are done with some -- or a lot of -- humor.
  • A few scenes listed under "Violence" may also be frightening to younger kids.
  • An alien turns into a menacing looking creature and charges toward a cop.
  • James and K have a final encounter with a large, menacingly looking insect alien that swallows K and comes after James.
  • Handguns: Used by the police, James and K, and Edgar. See "Violence" for details.
  • Sci-Fi Guns: Used by K and James to zap aliens or hold them at bay.
  • Phrases: "Pissing everybody off," "Bastard," "Smart ass," "Pissed," and "Shut up."
  • An alien (looking like a normal man) jumps from a bridge to the street below without sustaining injuries. James then jumps onto a moving tour bus to chase after him, and later the alien swan dives to his death from the edge of a building (not seen).
  • After K makes a comment about "when you grow up," James responds by slyly rubbing his forehead with his middle finger exposed.
  • K holds and shakes a little dog (that just so happens to be a talking alien) and all of this is played for laughs. Young, impressionable kids, however, might get the wrong idea about doing the same to the family pet.
  • James and K are surprised by an alien creature.
  • There's a mild amount of suspenseful and scary music in a few scenes.
  • None.
  • 10 "s" words (with 1 more incomplete "piece of..."), 3 slang terms regarding male genitals (the "p" and "d" words), 15 hells, 11 damns, 6 "ass" words, and 2 uses of "God damn" and 1 use each of "Swear to God," "Oh my God," and "My God" as exclamations.
  • Laurel briefly asks James, "You know what I like to do sometimes when it's really late?" but they're interrupted before she says what that is.
  • As Laurel tries to tell James about Edgar hiding under a table their standing against, he gets the wrong idea about comments (and gestures) she makes. Linda says, "There's something I have to show you" and "You really need to see this" while pointing down, but James thinks she's pointing to -- and talking about -- something else and tells her she needs to slow down. Moments later after he figures out what she's talking about, he accuses her of "coming on like some drunken prom date" while she complains about men always reading innuendo into anything a woman says.
  • Some small aliens smoke, and later when they're leaving, one of them takes several cartons of smokes with him.
  • K gets ready to smoke a cigarette, but some falling alien goo extinguishes his match.
  • None.
  • Whether aliens really exist on Earth (obviously for the concern of younger viewers).
  • K shoots an alien, pulverizing it into goo that covers a patrol officer.
  • James shoots through a glass door to chase after an alien.
  • Edgar's truck is pulverized by a crashing spaceship, and moments later the farmer is pulled into the crater (screams and eating sounds are heard) and is killed (not seen) and his skin is thrown to the top of the crater (briefly seen) as the alien fits into his body.
  • K blows off an alien's head (that looks like a man), and James holds his gun on K until he sees that the alien's head has grown back like an inflating balloon.
  • Edgar shoves a pesticide wand down an exterminator's throat, killing him (not graphic).
  • James and other "Men in Black" candidates fire their weapons at cardboard aliens in a sci-fi firing range.
  • A small energy ball gets loose and rips through the MIB office, destroying lots of things in its path.
  • The body of a waiter/waitresses (couldn't really tell) is seen stuffed under the counter, and was killed by Edgar (not seen).
  • Edgar kills two other aliens by quickly thrusting a sharpened tentacle through their necks (one of which is seen).
  • Edgar knocks over tables and throws people aside who are in his way.
  • An alien grabs James and thrashes him through the air and onto the roof of a car (seen from a distance and played for laughs).
  • Edgar breaks through a glass door and into a jewelry shop where he smashes the glass display cases while searching for something.
  • We hear the sound of a gunshot and are led to believe that Edgar shot a tow truck operator.
  • James shoots a miniature sci-fi gun that carries a big blast. It blows things apart and blows James backwards into walls and car windshields every time he fires it.
  • Edgar throws Laurel against the wall and then drags her along the floor. Later he holds a gun to her head as he holds her hostage.
  • Some cabs crash into each other.
  • James and K shoot a spaceship that explodes and crashes back to Earth.
  • James steps on and squashes cockroaches to antagonized the alien.
  • James and K fight an alien with the two men being knocked around and one of them (temporarily) being eaten. The alien is finally pulverized.

  • Reviewed June 30, 1997

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