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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 28.57%
Average: 19.78%
Pretty Bad: 5.49%
Total Crap: 13.19%

2 reviews, 79 user ratings

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Men in Black
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Nothing special."
3 stars

For the second July in a row, Will Smith stares out at us from the cover of Newsweek, selling an overhyped movie about aliens. Underneath his picture -- he's posing with co-star Tommy Lee Jones -- is a blurb anointing 'Men in Black' "the summer's coolest, funniest movie."

Cooler than Face/Off? Funnier than Hercules? If Newsweek says it's so, then it must be so. This is margarita hype -- best taken with many grains of salt. If only Newsweek's bouquet were the only one being thrown.

Men in Black is the chosen movie of the season -- the darling of punch-drunk critics battered by the grinding idiocy of Speed 2, the hollow glitz of Batman and Robin, the crude pyrotechnics of Con Air. There's a touching element of wishful thinking in the reviews I've read; the movie is directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, the former cinematographer (Raising Arizona) who went on to make the Addams Family movies and Get Shorty, and perhaps these critics want very badly to believe that his new film is witty, hip, inventive -- everything it isn't.

Tommy Lee Jones, as a hard-bitten government agent who keeps an eye on aliens living in Manhattan, gives his patented four-D performance -- detached, dry, deadpan, droll -- but he's great at it, and the movie gains from having an actor of his gravity in such absurd situations (as Volcano did). Will Smith, as the hot-shot New York cop whom Jones recruits as a new Man in Black, has the film's funniest moment, which has nothing to do with aliens. Filling out forms along with several other candidates, Smith gets tired of writing with the pages propped up in his lap; finally, he drags over a heavy table to write on, making enough noise to wake the dead.

Given its director and stars, Men in Black should have been a wacko classic to put alongside Ghostbusters and The Hidden (this movie's basic parents). But the script, adapted by Ed Solomon (the Bill & Ted movies) from a comic book, betrays its shallow origins. The story is just a collection of sketches in which Jones and Smith run into farcical E.T.s. In the main plot, they're on the trail of an evil "bug" that's inhabited the skin of a farmer (Vincent D'Onofrio). After about the fifth repetition, the sight gag of D'Onofrio staggering around the streets like a spastic Dawn of the Dead reject wears very thin.

The aliens are rubbery and goofy and often repulsive, forever gushing blue slime or translucent puke. Men in Black seems calculated to go over big with ten-year-old boys; it also features a rocket-fast car and huge, bulbous weapons -- except for Smith's "noisy cricket," a tiny gun that packs a megaton wallop. Once, that's kind of funny. Four times, no.

Somewhere in the margins of the movie, Linda Fiorentino turns up as a lonely, antisocial coroner ("I hate the living"), and the film ends with the promise of a Woman in Black -- an idea that makes 'Men in Black' seem like the prequel to a more intriguing comedy. Smart and reserved, Fiorentino is the most memorable human on the screen -- perhaps because Barry Sonnenfeld, who doesn't seem all that interested in this material, shares her alienation from the boys-with-toys hijinks. So did I.

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originally posted: 01/15/07 15:59:02
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User Comments

10/30/16 morris campbell a delight way better than that crap called independance day 4 stars
4/06/12 SEAN DUTRA great leads but mediocre everywhere else 4 stars
8/29/11 Jeff Wilder Smith and Jones work well together. Quite funny and better than say Mars Attacks. 4 stars
11/16/09 Reality Of Films This film is very funny! 5 stars
10/13/08 Shaun Wallner Awesome Cast!! 5 stars
8/17/08 John Millheim Special Effects were great, Funny, Aliens everywhere 5 stars
7/02/08 jointz "Hire a decorator to come in here quick cuz...damn!" A hilarious sci-fi classic. 5 stars
12/19/07 Pamela White classic funny movie cute aliens good FX 5 stars
8/26/07 Kevin Great movie 5 stars
5/05/07 R.W.Welch Tongue-in-cheek sci-fi. Imaginative and often funny. 4 stars
2/16/07 Vip Ebriega Will Smith and Tommy lee Jones are the 'Lethal Weapon' duo of the universe. 4 stars
1/31/07 Matt Tommy's pokerface is an hilarious contrast to the nonsense around him. Huge fun 4 stars
1/18/07 David Pollastrini very funny 5 stars
1/13/07 Sepi53 not my cup of tea! 1 stars
10/09/06 Booksworm I'm with the masses this time.How anyone can like this and not like ID4,I'll never know. 5 stars
2/07/06 Anthony Perfect for everyone 4 stars
1/03/06 cody visual effects were cool, ,makeup, and will and tommy lee give soild perf., but still ? 3 stars
10/27/05 chris a good film 4 stars
10/16/05 Quigley one of will smith's funnier sci-fi movies. tommy lee jones was awesome, as was the CG. 5 stars
9/13/05 Total Crap Cool, watchable flick, anybody can enjoy this movie. 4 stars
9/02/05 ES terrible movie, lame FX, badly done characters, story is poor, just a rancid hollywood film 1 stars
7/09/05 ALDO enjoyable film 4 stars
9/02/04 Conor Crockford cool 5 stars
7/20/04 bob i think that this is a discraceful film! i hate it! it was boring and same old same old!!!! 1 stars
5/02/04 J Smart and Funny! Great Alien/Gov. Movie *** 1/2 out of 4 5 stars
2/23/04 Kyle Fresh, well-wrought sci-fi comedy. 4 stars
10/01/03 Samuel Justus The best Will Smith movie Ever! 5 stars
7/22/03 I Would It was okay 3 stars
6/21/03 John Aster Habig the only comic book action film worth 5 stars 5 stars
4/01/03 Mr. Do This movie made me hope that the aliens crushed those suckers. crap. 1 stars
2/04/03 Turtle The best alien flick ever! Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are unexpectedly great together! 5 stars
1/23/03 Pinkline Jones More American Dreck for Illiterate Burger Heads 1 stars
8/16/02 KMG It's not bad 4 stars
7/08/02 henry ginsberg i like lions LIONS RULE AND I SUCK EM 5 stars
7/05/02 Shodan Yet another for the brainless masses 2 stars
5/18/02 Priscilla Postlethwaite Appealing idea comes off too tedious: in no-man's-land 'tween comedy&action. 3 stars
11/02/01 Andrew Carden Has A Few Very Funny Chuckles, but The Movie Gets Dull Quickly. 3 stars
9/03/01 Butterbean Cool! I'm just waiting for Will Smith to dump Jada and come to me 5 stars
8/09/01 E-Funk Not enough of whatever they were trying to achieve. A let-down. 2 stars
8/07/01 Mr. Hat Who couldn't like this movie at least a little bit....except for that asshole Halliwell. 4 stars
8/04/01 sarah I wanted to fall asleep & almost did 1 stars
6/14/01 Law Firm of Dewey, Cheatam & Howe Most likely the only time I will see a Will Smith movie more than once 5 stars
2/15/01 KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi Orignal, hilarious, fast-paced, visually stunning...a classic summer blockbuster! 5 stars
12/27/00 Turtle A comedy/horror/sci-fi/drama combo, which makes for a great movie! 5 stars
12/13/00 Destruction Worker We all live inside marbles!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
11/29/00 The Evil Penguin entertaining. LLLLOOOOOOVVVVEEEE the music. 4 stars
11/29/00 Cristopher Revilla cool flick, and good effects too 5 stars
10/18/00 Dan Has it's moments but could've done with being less flashy and a better script.Good fun, tho 3 stars
8/01/00 AA Very entertaining. A fresh approach of content over action. Only ruined by the low-key end. 4 stars
5/12/00 Steve Layne Entertaining, but uneven. 4 stars
3/16/00 Richard Wright An amusing comedy, but an over-reliance on special effects and the abrupt ending mar it. 3 stars
3/09/00 David Rogers T L Jones is on a role! First Batman Forever, then Volcano, now this! 5 stars
2/06/00 Kyle Broflovski More a roller-coaster ride than a movie. Quite original. 5 stars
1/10/00 John Markham A feeble excuse to showcase some special effects.SHITE! 1 stars
12/02/99 Bozo Would rate it higher except Will Smiths' oversized ego prevents me; liked TLJ as usual, tho 3 stars
10/25/99 focus Great arsenal and aliens, move over, Punisher! Tommy Lee Jones and Will were great! 4 stars
7/31/99 Blue sky coool 5 stars
5/29/99 Tim A good all around movie with the usual stuff from Will Smith 4 stars
4/25/99 JDC not as funny or satirical as it should have been. Pretty standard event movie. 3 stars
4/19/99 blake Will Smith is a no talent asshole. Who told him he could act???????????????????????? 1 stars
2/19/99 Piz better the second time, overhyped, could have been better and funnier 3 stars
1/25/99 Chloe Marie Elestenogoph ( So overrated. It was crap! 2 stars
1/16/99 Dasha Pure escapist fun 5 stars
12/29/98 Schizofrenic FBI with big guns and wacky aliens. That's your problem if you hate it, okay? 5 stars
11/24/98 Fred Should have been over in 5 minutes. Will Smith could have made Star Wars suck. 1 stars
10/24/98 grunter Will Smith=must-NOT see film; proof that the masses deserve contempt; unbelievably bad 1 stars
10/01/98 katherine funny, but couldda been better. 3 stars
9/26/98 Pat Flanagan I absoltely loved it both times I saw it(in a matter of two days). 4 stars
9/25/98 ShadowStar Kewl flick! Will Smith was hillarious! 5 stars
9/23/98 Rob Forey ahh, it was alright. Waaaay too short. 3 stars
9/20/98 MR HOLLYWOOD This really,really,really,BORED ME!!!!!! 1 stars
9/12/98 kanatcha that was so.. excuse me... fucking lame. 1 stars
9/08/98 Young Einstein Dug it totally. Busted out of formula in a summer when everyone else was stuck in formula. 5 stars
9/06/98 Badass Very funy. Jones and Smith are perfect for each other. (not in that way you sicko!) 4 stars
8/25/98 Mister Whoopee Really enjoyed this film. Great entertainment, but didn't treat us like idiots. 5 stars
8/16/98 Johny First Half = OK, Second Half = Crap 2 stars
8/16/98 {{{OZ}}} The best film of summer 97. No doubt. 5 stars
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  02-Jul-1997 (PG-13)



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