With Men In Black: International hitting theaters this week, we’re taking a look at the original film.
Men In Black is a perfect ‘90s film. It’s led by Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, two major stars of the time. It was produced by Steven Spielberg and directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, who was coming off the success of the two live action Addams Family films and the John Travolta movie Get Shorty. It was written by Ed Solomon, whose previous credits included Super Mario Brothers and the two Bill & Ted films. The score is composed by Danny Elfman, who had established himself through films like Batman, Dick Tracy, and Nightmare Before Christmas. It’s funny, it’s action packed, and even though the story focuses on the action-filled plot, there are some good morals behind it.
The sequels to the original MIB weren’t as beloved as the original, and for that reason, it seems as though the original film hasn’t kept a lot of the love it received upon its initial release. However, the film still stands up over 20 years later as a definitively solid movie. The jokes are still hilarious, the chemistry between Jones and Smith is incredible, and the effects are out of this world, standing up better than some films released more recently.
While Smith gets a lot of recognition for the success of the film, it would not have worked if not for Jones’ performance as Agent K. Smith brings it all to the table, but Jones was clearly having fun with this role. He’s not just the straight man to Smith’s lighthearted and goofy Agent J, he gives the perfect deadpan delivery of some of the funniest lines in the film. Smith is a treat to watch as he tries to understand the larger universe in his backyard, but Jones is indescribably hilarious delivering lines like, “…we at the FBI do not have a sense of humor we’re aware of.”
There are plenty of amazing elements of this film, but the effects truly can’t be overlooked. The practical effects for many of the aliens, created by Rick Baker and his team, are phenomenal. Which is no surprise as Baker was always the best in the business before his retirement. Baker and his team took home an Oscar for their work on the film, and it was incredibly well deserved. Every creature looks like something you’d expect to see if aliens were real, and at the same time, they feel like something beyond our imagination. It’s another element of the film that helps everything truly come together where it needs to.
There are a lot of great things about Men In Black. Obviously Will Smith is amazing in the film, which goes without saying. The music, the effects, and the acting are all spot on. It is honestly one of the few films from the ‘90s that aside from a few shots featuring a very distinguishable set of buildings, could feel as though it takes place at any point in time. It is something that feels universal, and when the time comes to watch it with my son, I don’t know that he’ll think it’s an old movie.
The sequels to Men In Black may have tainted the series as a whole in terms of fan appreciation, but the original film is a definitive classic. It’s one of the few films from the ‘90s that will live on long past the generation that grew up with Will Smith. Hopefully the franchise will be able to grow on without Smith himself as well.
You can find Men In Black on DVD, Blu-Ray and Digital formats. Be sure to keep following Poor Man’s Spoiler for all of our MIB coverage leading up to the release of MIB: International.