Men in Black (1997)

 ●  English ● 1 hr 38 mins

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Set against the backdrop of present-day America, Agent K is a member of an organization that has been keeping track of extra-terrestrial aliens on Earth for over 40 years. When K finds himself in need of a new partner, a brash NYPD detective, James Edwards fills the position, becoming Agent J. Then, one day, a flying saucer crashes into Earth. This alien belongs to the 'Bug' race. He takes the body of a farmer and heads to New York. He is searching for a super energy source called "The Galaxy". Armed with space-age technology (which J barely understands) and their razor-sharp wits, J and K investigate this new threat.
See Storyline (May Contain Spoilers)

Cast: Linda Fiorentino, Tommy Lee Jones, Will Smith

Crew: Barry Sonnenfeld (Director), Don Peterman (Director of Photography), Danny Elfman (Music Director)

Rating: M (Australia), 12 (Germany)

Genres: Action, Comedy, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Release Dates: 02 Jul 1997 (India)

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Did you know? Linda Fiorentino "won" her role in this movie during a poker game with director Barry Sonnenfeld. Afterwards he warned her she would not be in any nude scenes. Read More
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as Laurel Weaver
as Jay
as Gentle Rosenberg
as Agent Zed
as Beatrice
as Jack Jeebs
as Edgar the Bug




Executive Producer




Screenplay Writer

Camera and Electrical

Director of Photography


Music Director


Film Type:
Spoken Languages:
Colour Info:
Sound Mix:
Dolby, DTS, Sony Dynamic Digital Sound
Frame Rate:
24 fps
Aspect Ratio:
1.85:1 (Flat)
Movie Connection(s):
Reference: This Means War (English)
Revealing Mistakes
In the final scene, when Jay is fighting the big bug, he throws a rock and strikes the bug in the head. If you watch the rock closely, it disappears shortly after hitting the ground.

Revealing Mistakes
A pedestrian speed-walks past K's car window when they are first in the LTD, indicating sped-up film.

In the opening scene, which is set in either California, Arizona, New Mexico, or Texas, we see New York license plates on the cars. However, it is possible that the MIB drove from New York to one of those states as the guy was bringing immigrants over the border.

In the tunnel, J falls upside down and appears to have a Caucasian leg. However, the behind-the-scenes featurette shows that Will Smith performed this scene without a stunt double, so this must be a trick of the light.

When James chases the alien in his first scene, after he stops him, he sarcastically explains to him what NYPD stands for, "Nock Your Punkass Down". The word "knock" starts with a "k". Obviously the statement is sarcastic.

When riding in the tunnel, J puts on an 8-track and listens to Elvis. J quips, "You do know Elvis is dead?" to which K replies, "No he isn't, he just went home," implying he is an alien. Earlier K reveals the aliens first made contact in 1961 - five years after Elvis Presley made his breakthrough performance on The Ed Sullivan Show. However, 1961 is only when they made contact, not necessarily when they first landed.

When K shoots Jeebs in the head in the jewelry store, the resultant blast sends goop flying everywhere, yet in the next scene, the counter and wall behind Jeebs is completely clean.

After Edgar kills the Arquillians in the restaurant and rushes outside, we follow in a through-the-window shot as Edgar tosses a bystander off the sidewalk and then menaces a second in a close pass. But in the immediate exterior shot on Edgar from the sidewalk, the second bystander has vanished.

Crew/Equipment Visible
When the alien jumps off backward from the roof of the Guggenheim Museum, a safety cable can clearly be seen on his leg (just before the jump).

Crew/Equipment Visible
In the scene when the alien craft crashes, there is a shot of smoke rising, and off to the right side of the scene, men can be seen walking down the hill.

Crew/Equipment Visible
Partial reflection of the camera and its shadow can be seen when the camera follows the bank of lockers during J's initiation into the MIB.

Crew/Equipment Visible
When K approaches Redgick's car, the shadow of the camera can be seen briefly.

Crew/Equipment Visible
As J is trying to follow Edgar after the gun fight outside the jewelry store, the pyrotechnic devices used for the cricket gun damage blasts are clearly visible for a few seconds before they burn out.

Errors in Geography
K & J stop an alien in a car (the alien with the pregnant wife) because the alien is fleeing Manhattan, the area to which his visa restricts him. The alien's car is pointed toward Manhattan.

Errors in Geography
When Agent K is looking up his lost love, he types "Truro", then zooms in on Cape Cod. As he closes in, he misses Truro on the map by about 50 miles' drive (the town/village he zooms to is actually closer to Forestdale or Wakeby). Also, the suburban grass lawn is atypical for Truro. Homes are mostly surrounded by pine needles, brush and dunes.

Errors in Geography
As J chases the alien at the beginning of the movie, the chase starts at Grand Central Station. In the next shot, the alien is seen running downtown (the park is on his right) to get to the Guggenheim Museum. The Guggenheim is uptown from Grand Central.

Errors in Geography
In the end where we see Manhattan's place in the galaxy, the camera zooms from a location near the center of the Milky Way. According to most scientists, earth is actually located on one of the galaxy's "arms".

Factual Mistake
When K is looking at his lost girlfriend via satellite, the view is horizontal, as though shot from the ground, rather than "top down", as though shot from space.

Factual Mistake
The exterminator's truck does not have a New York State DEC sticker, which is required for all pesticide application vehicles to have clearly on display.

Factual Mistake
As Zed explains Orion's Belt to J at HQ, he rotates the constellation Orion vertically on a screen display and zooms in, showing the Belt's stars (Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka) to be in a roughly straight line and of equal brightness. In reality such an "overhead" projection of the Belt would show a long triangle with a very narrow base (Alnilam is about twice as far from Earth as the other two stars), with Mintaka on the right nine times brighter than Alnitak on the left.

Audio/Video Mismatch
When Edwards moves the table during the "best of the best" test, the scraping sound begins before the table is moved.

Audio/Video Mismatch
Right before K unplugs the camera in the interrogation he says "Some night huh?" but his mouth does not match.

Audio/Video Mismatch
When entering MIB headquarters, after spending the night deciding whether or not to join MIB, Edwards says to the security guard, "What's up hoss?" His lips never move.

Character Error
As the camera pans into the morgue the corpse on the fridge tray has a neck pulse.

Character Error
When K wipes the memories of the cops on the Mexican border, he says the neuralyzer will isolate the 'electronic' impulses in their brains, when actually it's 'electrical' impulses.

Character Error
When Z shows J the screen diagram of Orion's Belt at headquarters, the three stars are labeled in reverse of their true order, and Alnilam is misspelled as Alinlam.

Character Error
After Jay passes the tests near the beginning of the movie and sits in the park discussing aliens with Kay, Kay says, "500 years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat." The Earth's spherical nature was something that most scholars and all navigators were aware of as early as 400 BCE and has been common knowledge for the past 1,000 years.

When Edwards is at MIB headquarters in the egg shaped chair he sets his test papers to his left side, then when he stands up to drag the table over the papers briefly disappear.

The signs in the windows of the Russian restaurant change when shown from the inside.

The license plate on the LTD changes from centered to the right-hand side during the film.

When the bug goes into the farm house wearing Edgar's Skin he drinks sugar water, and then Beatrice tells him that his skin is hanging off his bones. He looks in the mirror then grabs his hair and pulls his skin tightly to the back of his head. Beatrice faints and the next shot shows the bug still pulling his hair back, but the skin is no longer stretched.
Will Smith, after reading the script, did not want to accept the role, but his wife Jada Pinkett Smith convinced him to take the part.

The sunglasses used by the Men in Black are the Ray-Ban "Predator 2" glasses. After the film released, Ray-Ban reported that sales of these glasses tripled, from $1.6 million to $5 million.

This film was going to be set in underground bases/locations, including Kansas, Washington DC and Nevada, but Barry Sonnenfeld made New York the film's main Earth location. He thought it was more believable that aliens could hide out in a global capital (safety in crowds), and thought New Yorkers would be more tolerant of people who behaved oddly (who were in fact aliens in disguise). He also felt much of the city structures resembled flying saucers and rocket ships, which could be REAL spacecraft and other hidden alien technology.

When K reveals there are about 1500 aliens on Earth and most of them are on Manhattan just trying to make a living, James asks "Cab drivers?". This is a reference to writer Douglas Adams's 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' novels, particularly the final novel 'So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish', where archivist Ford Prefect's entry in the Guide hints that driving a cab is a good way to make a living for aliens visiting New York.

Will Smith says he improvised the line, "It just be raining black people in New York".

Will Smith was cast because Barry Sonnenfeld's wife was a fan of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990), and Sonnenfeld also liked his performance in Six Degrees of Separation (1993).

When Edwards (Will Smith) jumps from the overpass onto the tour bus, he jumps from Pershing Square Bridge, the same location where Robert Neville (also Smith) is attacked by the demon dogs after the sun goes down in I Am Legend (2007).

Clint Eastwood was offered the role of K but turned it down.

The photo of Edwards when K is erasing all his data records is an old high school photo of Will Smith.

Rick Baker claims his work on this film was his most complex to date, as he had to have approval on his alien designs from both director Barry Sonnenfeld and producer Steven Spielberg: "It was like, 'Steven likes the head on this one and Barry really likes the body on this one, so why don't you do a mix and match?' And I'd say, because it wouldn't make any sense."

Linda Fiorentino "won" her role in this movie during a poker game with director Barry Sonnenfeld. Afterwards he warned her she would not be in any nude scenes.

Through an apparent lab error, at least portions of the release prints used in the U.S. were not hard matted for spherical widescreen projection. This meant that if the projectionist did not properly frame the projected image, the audience would be able to see lens shades, microphones and other things not normally visible in the frame area.

The MIB headquarters are located in the ventilation tower of the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, which connects Manhattan with Brooklyn.

John Landis was offered the chance to direct but declined, feeling it was basically just "The Blues Brothers (1980) with aliens". He has since said that he was wrong and he regretted turning down the film.

According to production designer Bo Welch, the MiB headquarters was designed to resemble a 1960s airport (the examination room of the MIB was particularly based on the TWA terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport). He used the 1960s theme because that was when MiB started up (as well as the decade of the space craze), and the airport design was because MiB's extraterrestrial affairs include their arrival and settlement to Earth, which airports assist in.

Vincent D'Onofrio, who plays Edgar the Bug, went on to voice all the Bugs (same species) who appeared in Men in Black: The Series (1997).

Chris O'Donnell was first offered the role of J, but he turned it down because he thought it was another "new recruit" role like his performance of Dick Grayson from Batman Forever (1995) and Batman & Robin (1997).

During pre-production, Barry Sonnenfeld changed a lot of the film's aesthetic: "I started out saying aliens shouldn't be what humans perceive them to be. Why do they need eyes? So Rick did these great designs, and I'd say, 'That's great - but how do we know where he's looking?' I ended up where everyone else did, only I took three months."

The driver smuggling illegal aliens along a road marked "375" claims to have been "fishing in Cuernavaca." 375 is a reference to Nevada SR375, known as the "Extraterrestrial Highway" for being near Area 51. Cuernavaca is the Mexican city which British ufologist Gordon Creighton claimed a flying saucer had crashed near in 1951 and its dead aliens thereupon whisked away by the U.S. Air Force with Mexico's cooperation.

Much of the MIB traits and characteristics are in-keeping with established lore of Men in Black. For example, supposed encounters with MIBs, witnesses report they use outdated jokes and vernacular and that their dress and vehicle seem to be dated as well. In the Chinese restaurant, Agent Kay tells Edwards "Agent Jay", "be there or be square", an expression that's out-of-place for mid 1990's humor.

Originally there were going to be two huge alien spaceships looming over Earth: an Arquillian ship and a Baltian ship, with representatives of both species staking claim of the galaxy. Mr. Rosenberg (the "little dude in the big dude's head") was a Baltian (confirmed by the novelization of the film), while the tall alien (Carel Struycken) he met at the restaurant was an Arquillian (and is so listed in the end credits). After some choice editing and rewriting, Rosenberg became an Arquillian.

After script rewrites looking for a more action oriented ending, the original animatronic Bug was discarded after 8 months of development. The new sequence using a redesigned Bug contain 45 CG shots, at a cost of $100000 each. According to director Barry Sonnenfeld "It was the best $4.5 million we spent".

Lowell Cunningham's comic 'The Men in Black' was much darker and dryer than the family-oriented sci-fi comedy this film adaptation was. In the comics, the MiB survey not only extraterrestrial activity, but paranormal and supernatural activity on earth as well. They are allowed to maintain secrecy by any means necessary (including elimination); they also had a secret agenda: to manipulate and reshape the world in their own image by keeping the supernatural hidden. The comic's basic plot was of MiB Agent X going on the run and trying to keep from getting eliminated.

To research his role, Will Smith visited an alien encounter convention in Las Vegas.

James Edwards jokes about a possible candidate from the Army, calling him Captain America. Tommy Lee Jones would later go on to star in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011).

The high-pitched whine the neurolyzer makes when it flashes is the sound of a strobe flash's capacitor recharging.

Rick Baker constructed an animatronic of the giant Bug to use in the film, but to his annoyance changes to the script's climax required that the Bug be rendered in computer-generated imagery.

The site BadAstronomy, famed for bashing sci-fi movies (such as Armageddon (1998)) about science blunders, praised this movie for being comedic yet surprisingly accurate when it comes to astronomy facts.

Kay mentions to Jay about the Zeronian migration in 1968 and that he probably wasn't even alive in 1968. Will Smith, who played Jay in the film, was born in 1968.

Tommy Lee Jones only accepted the role of K after Steven Spielberg promised the script would improve. He had been disappointed with the first draft, which he felt did not capture the tone of the comic.

Actor Vincent D'Onofrio researched his role as Edgar by watching a lot of bug documentaries. In order to achieve his character's distinctive walk, he put on knee braces so he couldn't bend his legs, and taped up his ankles.

Kay tells Edgar the Bug that he is in violation of section 4153 of the Tycho Treaty. This is a reference to director Barry Sonnenfeld's birthday, April 1 1953 (4-1-53).

Will Smith didn't believe it was really Steven Spielberg on the other end of the line when the producer-director first rang him to talk to him about this movie.

Quentin Tarantino was originally offered the chance to direct, but turned it down.

One of the highlights of this movie was the creature effects and makeup of Rick Baker and visual effects by Industrial Light & Magic.

This film was based on Lowell Cunningham's The Men in Black comic book series, originally published by Marvel and Malibu Comics.