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.