Men in Black (PG)

Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld
Starring Tommy Lee Jones, Will Smith, Linda Fiorentino

The summer's biggest blockbuster is an enjoyable romp that is one part buddy movie, one part alien sci-fi movie. After the success of the conspiracy based X Files, and the mega success of the alien invasion picture Independence Day, we have a comedy about those shadowy figures, the men in black, that are often an integral part of any hokey alien abduction, or UFO sighting. Tommy Lee Jones plays the old hand who has a brash new partner(Smith) to train. The MiBs job is to supervise the many alien species that are living on Earth, unbeknownst to the population.
However, the arrival of a nasty assassin type creature known as a bug, has many of the aliens running for cover, and Smith and Jones must try and save the Earth. This bare plot sounds like your standard action/sci-fi thriller, but it certainly isn't. The film is played for laughs by a very straight faced Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith as his usual cocky but likeable young man. The laughs come from the very witty script, and the many wonderfully wierd alien effects. Despite this, I found it pretty creepy for a PG, but that is where the big bucks are I suppose. A short(89min) film that the whole family can see certainly rakes in the money! Jones is always good to watch, and Smith is appealing as usual. The story is a bit weak, but the set up and the scenario are a lot of fun. Linda Fiorentino is a talented actress, but to be honest doesn't get much to do, although she is VERY cool as a Woman in Black. The biggest praise should go to the production designers and SFX people. The sets in the MiBs headquartes and alien immigration are quite spectacular, while there are many excellent SFX, like the opening alien hit, and Jones shooting the head off a seemingly seedy shopkeeper, only for his alien head to grow back. High comedy in the sequence where Smith helps deliver an alien baby, and Jones questions an alien who is disguised as a dog.
I really liked the humour in this film, as opposed to the way over the top Mars Attacks, that was too whacky and framkly unfunny. In this film, the script is very witty, and the actors carry it off well, and the visual gags work well.
While no masterpiece, this is nevertheless a well above average comedy, and a blockbuster hit that, for once, deserves its success. 8/10.

August 1997

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