Men In Black – Cocky New York cop, James Darrell Edwards III, discovers that aliens live on Earth. He is recruited into the mysterious ‘Men In Black’ organisation, partnered with Agent K. Accepting the loss of his former identity for his new job, James is renamed ‘Agent J’ and is thrown in at the deep end when he and K come across a huge, evil cockroach-like creature which has taken on human form and is looking for a ‘galaxy’ that he intends to use against another alien race. K and J must discover where the galaxy is and prevent the ‘bug’ from leaving Earth with it, to stop an intergalactic war.

Men In Black (1997) – Director: Barry Sonnenfeld

Is Men In Black appropriate for kids?

By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6401105

Rating: PG

Running Length: 98 mins

Starring: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Vincent D’Onofrio

Genre: Science Fiction, Comedy

‘MEN IN BLACK’ REVIEW

Loosely based on ‘The Men In Black’ comic book series by Lowell Cunnigham and Sandy Curruthers, ‘Men In Black’ parodies the idea of the secretive government agents in black suits and sunglasses who appear on the scene of any mysterious happenings that conspiracy theories are made of. The agents in question live and work alongside numerous extra-terrestrial life forms and, while many are imperfect (just like us humans), it is a genuine surprise to them to discover an alien who has a purely evil agenda.

While Agent J (Will Smith) is in way over his head on his first assignment, he exudes enough confidence and sass to get past the obstacles in his way and Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) is the world-weary, stoic – unfazed by the bizarre and fantastic events that surround him at every turn. Cleverly written and managing to balance taking a cheeky dig at other, more serious sci-fi movies while maintaining a genuine (albeit cartoonish) story makes ‘Men In Black’ more than it needed to be, ensuring its classic status not just for sci-fi fans but a much wider audience.

Like its star Will Smith, ‘Men In Black’ oozes confidence which only makes its audience more comfortable as they are taken along for the fantastical ride that feels much more real than it should. With ‘Men In Black’, laugh out loud comedy is made to look good!

IS ‘MEN IN BLACK’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?

Towards the beginning of the movie, two men in black agents talk to a large alien. It is a friendly conversation but they are chastising him for his criminal activity. A cop, unaware of alien life, spies them and, when he makes a noise, the alien turns around and runs at him. It roars loudly and aggressively, obviously intending to at least harm, if not kill him. As it gets closer to the cop, the camera is close-up to the alien’s snarling, angry face but it suddenly explodes into blue goo that splatters over the cop; one of the agents is then seen behind with a large gun – he has killed the alien in order to save the cop.

A man is attacked by an alien which has crash-landed outside his home. As he peers into the hole with the wreckage, a tentacle suddenly reaches up and grabs the man’s head, pulling him into the hole. Screams and ripping sounds are heard and then his rubbery skin (which is still fully intact with no blood, but obviously empty of any ‘contents’) flops down in front of the camera. There are holes where the eyes were and this unexpectedly gory moment could be quite scary for some kids. Shortly after, the alien steps out of the hole wearing the man’s skin which is baggy and unnatural also, when speaking to another character, the alien pulls the skin around the back of his head, making it tighten grotesquely (and comically).

An exterminator walks into a large room, he is wearing some apparatus to spray poison around. He is stopped by an alien who forces the sprayer into the man’s mouth and turns on the poison. The man’s body tenses up, his eyes widen in surprise and after a few seconds he collapses to the floor, dead.

Two men are killed by an alien who uses a sharp, needle-like appendage to stab them in the neck (this is shown in close-up); they gasp in surprise but die quickly and only a tiny spot of blood is seen. A dead body is seen folded unnaturally in half, their killer having taken on their role as a server in a restaurant. Another body is seen glued to a ceiling with the eyes still open.

A woman performs an autopsy on a body, nothing gory is seen but squelching sounds can be heard while her hands are inside it.

A man picks up a small dog who has been established as another alien life form and can talk. Because he needs information quickly, he shakes the dog violently for a few seconds causing him to yelp and whimper. Afterwards the dog is a little put out but not otherwise distressed but kids may be uncomfortable with what appears to be animal abuse and it could also be imitable.

A woman in being threatened by an alien who is concealed, she desperately tries to get the help of a nearby man who mistakes her ‘coded’ words as flirting. Pointing downwards (to where the alien is hiding’ she says ‘there’s something I need to show you’ to which the man, thinking she is pointing to her own anatomy replies ‘Damn girl! Slow down!’ and, explaining his preference for dominance says ‘I’ve gotta drive, not some macho sh*t, it’s just the way I get down’. When he realises what she’s actually saying, he tells her ‘you were coming on like a drunk prom date’.

An alien is provoked into eating an established character who has already told another that he intends to retrieve something that has previously been eaten.

CAN I SEE A CLIP?

VERDICT – IS ‘MEN IN BLACK’ FOR KIDS?

Comedy sci-fi is often difficult to get right. Not being to everyone’s taste, in-jokes can often go over the heads of those not into the genre and not acknowledging the fans can alienate fans so when ‘Men In Black’ gets it right, it shows just how good the writing actually is. With lots of swearing and some moderate violence, we feel ‘Men In Black’ should be suitable for kids aged eight and over, depending on your attitudes to regular cursing.

  • Violence: 3/5 (nothing too gory but some violent moments are seen on camera in close-up)
  • Emotional Distress: 2/5 (An established character has their memory wiped, a friend becoming a little upset and disappointed at losing them however this isn’t overly distressing)
  • Fear Factor: 2/5 (some scenes of frightening aliens, although this is usually in an action or comedy moment and other characters are not shown to be overly afraid)
  • Sexual Content: 2/5 (some sexual dialogue)
  • Bad Language: 4/5 (frequent moderate cursing, some mild to moderate blasphemy)
  • Dialogue: 2/5
  • Other Notes: Deals with themes of secret organisations, alien life, being out of your depth, confidence, relying on someone else, bravery, words and intelligence being as important as strength and leaving an old life behind.

Words by Laura Record

 

Men in Black 1-3 [DVD]


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