Men In Black (MIB)
1997

Cast

KayTommy Lee Jones
JayWill Smith
ZedRip Torn
Laurel Linda Fiorentino
Edgar Vincent D'Onofrio
Beatrice Siobhan Fallon
Jeebs Tony Shalhoub
Gentle Rosenberg Mike Nussbaum

Crew
Director Barry Sonnenfeld
Screenplay Lowell Cunningham (comic book), Ed Solomon, David Koepp
Cinematography Donald Peterman A.S.C.
Original music Danny Elfman
Production Design Bo Welch
Film Editing Jim Miller
Costume Design Mary E. Vogt

Zed: "You'll dress only in attire specially sanctioned by MIB special services. You'll conform to the identity we give you, eat where we tell you, live where we tell you. From now on you'll have no identifying marks of any kind. You'll not stand out in any way. Your entire image is crafted to leave no lasting memory with anyone you encounter. You're a rumor, recognizable only as deja vu and dismissed just as quickly. You don't exist; you were never even born. Anonymity is your name. Silence your native tongue. You're no longer part of the System. You're above the System. Over it. Beyond it. We're 'them.' We're 'they.' We are the Men in Black."

Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) and Agent J (Will Smith) are our last best hope to defend the earth from the scum of the universe. The Men In Black have been assigned by Agent Zed (Rip Torn) to seek out and destroy a villainous bug (a genuinely nasty alien) who has inhabited the body of Edgar, a farmer (Vincent D'Onifrio). Their mission is to exterminate the bug before it destroys our planet. The two are armed with a cache of nifty weapons including a Noisy Cricket, a series 4 De-Atomizer, a Carbonizer, and a matching set of Neuralyzers. They are ultimately assisted by Dr. Laurel Weaver(Linda Fiorentino) the Deputy Medical Examiner, who suspects way more than she is supposed to about these beings from other planets, and a smarmy arms dealer, Jack Jeebs (Tony Shalhoub) who is selling Reverberating Carbonizers to unstable aliens.

Ed Solomon and David Koepp have crafted a classically funny science fiction film that keeps the flavor of Lowell Cunningham's comic book series on which the film is based. The dialogue is both witty and fast paced but with a cast like this one, what else would you expect?

In the hands of Director Barry Sonnenfeld (whose previous work included serving as cinematogrpaher on such pictures as"Miller's Crossing" (1990), "Misery" (1990), "When Harry Met Sally" (1989),), "MIB" becomes simultaneously suspenseful and funny. He is ably assisted by Danny Elfman's musical score that has been heavily influenced by such classic compositions as Bernard Herrmann's timeless musical score from "The Day The Earth Stood Still". The film's soundtrack which includes a song by Will Smith (the video includes that as a bonus), is upbeat and enhances the script without over-riding it. The sound track was recognized with a nomination for Best Music, Original Musical or Comedy Score by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Mary E. Vogt's costumes are delightful, purchases of Ray Ban sunglasses alone went through the roof following the film's opening. Vogt's costumes and Rick Baker's creature effects and special make-up effects further enhance the film's alien personas, particularly that of Edgar whose facial contortions are a joy to behold.

The film was nominated for numerous awards in 1997 and won an Oscar for Best Makeup for David LeRoy Anderson and Rick Baker. It was also nominated for an Oscar for Best Art Direction - Set Decoration by Cheryl Carasik (set decorator) and Bo Welch (art director).

Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith are in fine form in this buddy picture providing the perfect balance of intensity and comic relief. We know we are in for a treat when Smith who is chasing a man down the streets of New York City and is forced to jump from a bridge onto a tour bus responds to the startled passengers "It just be raining black men in New York!" And Jones is delightfully deadpan throughout the film, particularly when he responds to the victims of alien attacks. Nowhere is this more obvious than in his dealings with the wife of a recently devoured farmer:

Beatrice: Did you come to make fun of me too?

K: No, ma'am. The FBI has no sense of humor that we're aware of. May we come in?

The chemistry between Jones and Smith is palpable and the two make one of the screen's best pairings for films of this type. Like Newman and Redford in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," they pull off a friendly repartee' that is so seamless it makes you believe that they have spent the entirety of their lives exchanging one liners. When J says, "Why the big secret? People are smart, they can handle it." And K responds "A 'person' is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it." The audience recognizes that they are dead on.

Vincent D'Onofrio and Siobhan Fallon are hysterical as the poor farming couple whose lives are disrupted by the bug from beyond. The opening exchange between Edgar (D'Onofrio) and the bug is an astute parody of a classic NRA slogan…

Bug: Put your projectile weapon on the ground.

Edgar: You can have my gun when you pry it from my cold dead hands.

Bug: Your proposition is acceptable.

Putting all of that aside the film features some excellent special effects ( by Industrial Light & Magic {ILM}) and some of the best gadgets ever featured outside of a Bond film.

Finally, the film features one of the best opening title sequences ever featured on film. Pablo Ferro, who was responsible for the film's title design and Fred Toye who was the main titles sequence editor combined with Mo 42 Special Effects for the main title sequence. It is a genuine treat!