Men in Black (1997) - Rotten Tomatoes

Men in Black1997

Men in Black (1997)



Critic 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.

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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 recruited by "K" (Tommy Lee Jones), a veteran of a clandestine government agency secretly policing the comings and goings of aliens on planet Earth. Nicknamed the "men in black" for their nondescript uniform of black suit, shoes, tie, and sunglasses, the agents are assigned to recover a bauble that's been stolen by an intergalactic terrorist (Vincent D'Onofrio). It seems the item is none other than the galaxy itself, and its theft has plunged humanity into the center of what's shaping up to become an interstellar war, unless K and his new wisecracking partner, now renamed "J," can stop the bad guy. On their side but somewhat in the dark is a pretty, unflappable city medical examiner (Linda Fiorentino) who has been zapped one too many times by K's ingenious memory-sapping device. Men in Black was a box office smash, inspiring an animated children's television series and a hit soundtrack album that featured a performance by star (and rapper) Smith. ~ Karl Williams, Rovi

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Mike Nussbaum
as Gentle Rosenberg
Jon Gries
as Van Driver
Kent Faulcon
as Jake Jensen
Carel Struycken
as Arquillian
Fredric Lehne
as INS Agent Janus
Ken Thorley
as Orkin Man
Patrick Breen
as Mr. Redgick
Becky Ann Baker
as Mrs. Redgick
Sean Whalen
as Passport Officer
Harsh Nayyar
as News Vendor
Michael Willis
as Cop In Morgue
Willie C. Carpenter
as Police Inspector
Peter Linari
as Tow Truck Driver
David Cross
as Morgue Attendant
Steve Rankin
as INS Agent
Fredric Lane
as INS Agent Janus
Andy Prosky
as INS Agent
Michael Goldfinger
as NYPD Sergeant
Alpheus Merchant
as Security Guard
Norma Jean Groh
as Mrs. Edelson
Bernard Gilkey
as Baseball Player
Sean Plummer
as First Contact Alien
Michael Kaliski
as First Contact Alien
Richard Arthur
as 2nd First Contact Alien
Verne Troyer
as Alien Son
Mark Setrakian
as Rosenberg Alien
Tim Blaney
as Frank the Pug
Brad Abrell
as Worm Guy
Thom Fountain
as Worm Guy
Drew Massey
as Worm Guy
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News & Interviews for Men in Black

Critic Reviews for Men in Black

All Critics (89) | Top Critics (27)

A terrifically entertaining combination of alien conspiracy fears played for laughs and French Connection-meets-Ghostbusters thrills... Men in Black is so much fun one is actually mildly disappointed when it ends after an economically short 98 minutes.

July 2, 2019 | Full Review…

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.

August 12, 2014 | Full Review…
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.

August 12, 2014 | Full Review…

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.

August 2, 2013 | Full Review…

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

July 31, 2013 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

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

April 14, 2013 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

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
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
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

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