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Men in Black (1997)


Average Rating: 7.5/10
Reviews Counted: 84
Fresh: 77
Rotten: 7

Critics Consensus: Thanks to a smart script, spectacular set pieces, and charismatic performances from its leads, Men in Black is an entirely satisfying summer blockbuster hit.

Average Rating: 7.3/10
Reviews Counted: 25
Fresh: 21
Rotten: 4

Critics Consensus: Thanks to a smart script, spectacular set pieces, and charismatic performances from its leads, Men in Black is an entirely satisfying summer blockbuster hit.


Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 1,044,370



Movie Info

For his fifth effort as a feature-film director, one-time cinematographer Barry Sonnenfeld brought his cartoonish visual style and darkly humorous sensibilities to this adaptation of, appropriately enough, a tongue-in-cheek sci-fi comic book. Will Smith stars as James Darrel Edwards, a New York City cop with an athletic physique and a flippant, anti-authoritarian attitude toward law enforcement. After chasing down a mysterious perpetrator one night who turns out to be an alien, James is … More

PG-13 (for language and sci-fi violence)
Action & Adventure , Science Fiction & Fantasy , Comedy
Directed By:
Written By:
Ed Solomon
In Theaters:
Oct 23, 1997
Columbia TriStar International


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Critic Reviews for Men in Black

All Critics (84) | Top Critics (25) | Fresh (77) | Rotten (7) | DVD (48)

Men in Black is the wryest, sharpest, most entertaining special effects film in recent memory, a simultaneous participant and mocking parody of the more-bang-for-your-buck behemoth genre.

Full Review… | August 12, 2014
Top Critic

Men In Black deserves credit for supplementing its special effects with a breezy script and genuinely charismatic performances by Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones.

Full Review… | August 12, 2014
AV Club
Top Critic

Its attitude is poised somewhere between the deadpan ghoulishness of the Coen brothers and a Letterman-like sense of the absurdity of life in New York's rich ethnic stew.

Full Review… | August 2, 2013
New York Daily News
Top Critic

Men in Black is moderately amusing, well-constructed and mercifully short, but it fails to deliver on the zaniness of its first half.

Full Review… | July 31, 2013
Seattle Times
Top Critic

There's a playfulness, here, that you don't often find in a special-effect flick.

Full Review… | April 14, 2013
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic

A smart, funny and hip adventure film in a summer of car wrecks and explosions.

Full Review… | April 14, 2013
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

[Director Barry Sonnenfeld] establishes the premise in the wildly entertaining first 45 minutes and then glides along for the rest of the film on the strength of a poker-faced comic sensibility.

Full Review… | August 12, 2014
Baltimore Sun

What makes this wildly imaginative setup so much fun is the contrast between the deadpan gruffness of Jones and Torn, and the spectacularly strange environment in which they work.

Full Review… | August 12, 2014
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Men in Black, running a breezy 98 minutes, is a showpiece of laconic economy. It's quick, eccentric and deadly funny and for many young movie-goers it's likely to be a close encounter they'll want to see a second and third time.

Full Review… | August 12, 2014
Tulsa World

A lean, punchy, fast paced, and extremely endearing sci-fi action comedy.

Full Review… | August 12, 2014
Total Film

Great special effects, inventive alien designs and Smith and Jones's hip, hilarious double act make director Barry Sonnenfeld's Lethal Weapon-style buddy picture a fast-paced pleasure.

Full Review… | July 31, 2013
Radio Times

The plot, trifling as it is, doesn't much matter. What makes the movie such a hoot are the clever gags, imaginative special effects, and the snappy byplay between the well-matched Jones and Smith.

Full Review… | July 31, 2013
People Magazine

[A] hilarious comedy, directed with boisterous wit by Barry Sonnenfeld.

Full Review… | April 14, 2013
Christian Science Monitor

Offensively bad? No. But it's never been anything more than a promising wasted opportunity.

Full Review… | May 24, 2012 affable (yet somewhat forgettable) bit of escapist entertainment.

Full Review… | May 23, 2012
Reel Film Reviews

"Men in Black" still holds up after 15 years. It's as fun, funky, and edgy now as it was in 1997, and HD breathes even more life into it.

Full Review… | April 26, 2012
Movie Metropolis

Lots of fun, but too scary for some kids.

Full Review… | January 2, 2011
Common Sense Media

What is it about the black suit/black tie/white shirt get-up in movies?

Full Review… | September 1, 2009

What [it] lacks in depth, it makes up for with an infectious childlike enthusiasm for its zany premise.

Full Review… | October 18, 2008

Audience Reviews for Men in Black

J: You know the difference between you and me? I make this look good.

"Protecting The Earth From The Scum Of The Universe"

I've seen bits and pieces of Men in Black over the years, but I had never actually watched it from start to finish. Now that I have, I see why it's such a beloved movie. This is just a great, fun, and hilarious ride. Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith are great on screen together and have terrific chemistry, while being polar opposites.

The Men in Black are a secret agency that protects earth from the bad aliens and keeps an eye on the many good aliens that live among us. K(Tommy Lee Jones) recruits new member, J(Will Smith) into the agency from his job as a police officer. Within the first 24 hours of being on the job, J finds out that he and K are going to have to save the world from Alien attack. 

There's a reason Men in Black is given so much praise; because it deserves it. This film weaves alien celebrities, death rays, end of the world possibilities, talking dogs, and a great Vincent D'Onofrio role into a movie that manages to be funny, entertaining, silly, and altogether one of the most fun film experiences you are likely to ever have. That's not to say this is one of the greatest movies of all-time or anything like that. What it is though, is a worthwhile sci-fi comedy with terrific direction from Barry Sonnenfeld and wonderful performances from Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith. This is a can't miss.

Melvin White

Super Reviewer


The film's sci-fi presentation, clever story and leading duo (Jones & Smith) provides for a surge of entertainment that exceeds anyone's expectations. Men in Black is that summer blockbuster that satisfies throughout its entirety. 4.5/5

Eugene Bernabe
Eugene Bernabe

Super Reviewer


Ace cinematographer turned director Barry Sonnenfeld is known for having a cartoonish style and darkly humorous sensibilities, and these qualities served him very well with this adaptation of a tongue-in-cheek sci--fi comic book series.

This witty, stylish, and insanely clever film follows a tough and uber hip New York cop named James Edwards who, after a bizarre encounter with a suspect, discovers that not only do aliens exist, but there is a top secret government agency known as the Men In Black designed to monitor and deal with their presence on Earth.

Shedding his old life and identity, James joins the organization, taking up the name Agent J, and, along with a no-nonsense codger of a partner named Agent K, work to stop an assassination plot that could lead to interstellar war.

As mentioned above, this is a really clever film. It's funny, sharp, and gets in some nice satire, and makes for a nice blend of comedy and sci-fi intrigue. I knew this was funny as a kid, but it wasn't until later that I realized how much of the humor went over my head, kinda like my experience with Ghostbusters.

Sonnenfeld's style is perfect for this kind of thing, and I love the world created here. Will Smith delivers a fine performance as Agent J, and he has wonderful chemistry with Tommy Lee Jones as Agent K. Rip Torn is a delight as MIB boss Zed, Linda Fiorentino is good as a mortician caught up in the madness, and Vincent D'Onofrio is great as the primary antagonist who tries to hide its real identity using the hollowed out skin of a farmer.

The film is heavy on effects, and, while they are great, they thankfully don't overshadow things, and actually complement the story. The action and set pieces are decent too, but for me, the best part of the film is the writing, performances, concept, and sharp satirical humor.

Definitely give this one a look. It's easily a highlight of late 90s cinema.

Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

What makes this film stand out, aside from its superb effects, humor and script, is the contrast between Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith. While Jones is the emotionless, smarter and wiser one out of the two, Smith is the younger and more enthusiastic. These 'Men In Black' are on a mission to save Earth from a really, really nasty bug infestation. This is one Sci-Fi film that shouldn't be missed.

Samuel Riley
Samuel Riley

Super Reviewer

Men in Black Quotes

"You can have my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers."
Alien: "Your proposal is acceptable."
– Submitted by Farti S (5 months ago)
My ears look funny.
– Submitted by Jesse K (16 months ago)
You insesitive jerk! Do you have any idea how much that stings?
– Submitted by Matthew D (23 months ago)
You need to ease up out my face before something bad happen to you. Too late.
– Submitted by Matthew D (23 months ago)
So, big bad bug got a bit of a soft spot, huh?
– Submitted by Matthew D (23 months ago)
YOU IDIOTS! You don't get it! I've won! It's over! You're milk-suckers! You don't matter. In fact, in a few seconds you won't even be matter.
– Submitted by Matthew D (23 months ago)

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