Sunday, December 27, 2009

#409: Men in Black (1997)

Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Cast: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones & Linda Fiorentino

NYPD Agent James Darrel Edwards III encounters a very odd person of interest who warns him that the world will end. Soon after, while being interrogated about the incident, a man named K walks into his cell, changing his life as he knows it. He is inducted into the organization called the Men in Black. His new job is to keep secret the knowledge of extraterrestrial life in the USA, particularly in Manhattan. The job gets risky when a farmer from upstate is killed by an alien 'bug', and his body is used as a disguise in his efforts to destroy the universe.

The special effects in this flick are great, partially because of how absolutely ridiculous they got. The designers of the aliens were not asked to create one monster, but loads of them in various shapes and sizes, and many of them in ludicrous disguises. Sonnenfeld clearly had a ball finding as much about New York to poke fun at, which really makes this film a gem.

The plot is a little bit fuzzy, but let's face it: this is a summer blockbuster, not a Best Film nominee. The acting is on the good side - nothing phenomenal, due to its lack of depth. But, Will Smith is at his best here, Tommy Lee Jones puts on a great straight-face with a touch of sadness towards the end, and Linda Fiorentino has a similar role to her leading spot in Dogma, Bethany. It's unfortunate that Fiorentino's career never really took hold, apparently due to a lack of variation in her character - but she puts on a great business-like, cynical, independent woman.

Watch it for a good laugh and a good dose of action.

Fun Trivia (Stolen from IMDB):
  • During the shoot, there was a script revision which changed the role of the 'Universe' in the movie. Fortunately, some creative tricks could be used to avoid having to re-shoot several scenes. For instance, the dialogue between Rosenberg and the tall man in the diner was originally in English (and they were adversaries), but their lines were simply dubbed in an alien language that could be subtitled with the desired explanation. New lines were also written for Frank, the talking dog, whose scenes had to go through post-production anyway. Director Barry Sonnenfeld could be heard on the DVD bonus material jokingly advising fellow directors to include a talking dog into every movie, which makes it easy to change the plot while filming.
  • After Linda Fiorentino "won" her role in Men in Black in a poker game with director Barry Sonnenfeld, he warned her that she would not be in any nude scenes.
  • The MIB headquarters are located in the ventilation tower of the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, which connects Manhattan with Brooklyn.
  • David Schwimmer was asked to play the role of J before Will Smith, but turned it down.

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