PROTECTING THE EARTH FROM THE SCUM OF THE UNIVERSE.
Not a movie about undertakers but rather a Ghostbusters for the 1990s; somewhat slight but in the same vein as director Barry Sonnenfeld’s The Addams Family (1991) with its dark sense of humor. Having a secret agency control the aliens who actually live on our planet is a fun idea and the casting couldn’t be better – Linda Fiorentino is the sexy coroner who gets involved with a rookie MIB agent (Will Smith) and a strict but cool veteran (Tommy Lee Jones) who are both on the hunt for a particularly nasty alien. Outrageous makeup design is an added bonus; the one on “Edgar”, whose skin layer can’t seem to adapt, is advanced but doesn’t look too inorganic.
1997-U.S. 98 min. Color. Produced by Walter F. Parkes, Laurie MacDonald. Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld. Screenplay: Ed Solomon. Comic Book: Lowell Cunningham. Music: Danny Elfman. Song: “Men in Black” (performed by Will Smith). Makeup: Rick Baker, David LeRoy Anderson. Cast: Tommy Lee Jones (K), Will Smith (J), Linda Fiorentino (Laurel Weaver), Rip Torn, Vincent D’Onofrio, Tony Shalhoub.
Trivia: Chris O’Donnell and Clint Eastwood were allegedly considered for the leads; Quentin Tarantino for directing duties. Followed by two sequels, starting with Men in Black II (2002), and an animated TV series in 1997.
Oscar: Best Makeup.
Quote: “You know the difference between you and me? I make this look good.” (Smith to Jones, commenting on their garb)
Last word: “I remember on the first ‘Men in Black’, showing [the script] to Ethan Coen and every suggestion he made I ignored, thank god. Like he suggested losing the scene where Will takes the test to become a Man in Black, and those ‘egg’ chairs. So at the end of the day you have to trust yourself or trust your wife.” (Sonnenfeld, Collider)