Men in Black

  • Review Date: June 24, 2003
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Release Year: 1997

Common Sense Media says

Lots of fun, but too scary for some kids.
  • Review Date: June 24, 2003
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Release Year: 1997

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Good triumphs over evil. Comically engenders a belief that if Earth were invaded by alien life forms, the situation would be controllable.

Positive role models

The heroes are flawless -- good, brave, highly intelligent, loyal, and strong. Lots of both ethnic and "interplanetary" diversity. Few women appear: A verbally abused wife and a sexy doctor are the only featured females.

Violence

All cartoon, all the time. Nothing is meant to be taken seriously, but rather to shock and awe the viewer with comic horror and laughter. Heads roll (literally), and there are explosions, crashes, stabbings, shootings, futuristic weapons. The "ewww" factor is high, as insects with massive tentacles capture humans; slimy creatures erupt into blue goo; a giant bug swallows one of the leads and spits him up later; a woman gives birth to a squid; a vacuum-hose is forced down a man's throat; bizarre-looking humans morph into all manner of even more bizarre creatures.

 

Sex

Some mild innuendo and flirting between one of the heroes and the very attractive (and sexy) female coroner.

 

Language

Frequent swearing and mild profanity: "goddamn," "s--t," "ass," "bastard," hell," "butt," "pissed off."  "D--k" and "pr--k" are used as insults.

Consumerism

Marlboro cigarettes, Gold's Gym, Bloomingdale's, Ford.

 

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A running joke shows a species of small, slimy, highly literate insects as heavy smokers.

 

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that comic mayhem and gross-out creatures from other planets define Men in Black. Scary creatures and life-threatening situations are frequent. The film, however, is as clever as it is exaggerated; some of the most destructive violence is implied, happening just off-camera. Still, young or sensitive kids who can't readily distinguish fantasy from reality may be disturbed by the barrage of exploding insects, grotesque morphing from human to alien life form, and cartoon violence (characters blow up, are vaporized, stabbed, shot with ray guns, and more). There's plenty of swearing ("damn," "goddamn," "bastard," "hell," "s--t") and a few insults, including "d--k" and "pr--k"). 

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

The central premise of MEN IN BLACK is that aliens have been living among us for years, monitored and controlled by a secret government agency that must keep the human population unaware. New recruit Agent J (Will Smith) joins up and learns the ropes from veteran Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones), just in time to save the world from a brand-new threat.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

What's so original about Men in Black is its unpredictable tone. Part comedy, part science-fiction parody, and part action film, the movie just keeps throwing elements into the pot. Teens will love the combination of irreverent humor, great chase sequences, and gross-out special effects.

Many kids particularly enjoy the over-the-top alien bad guys as they saunter around the countryside wreaking mayhem. But they'll save their heartiest laughs for Smith and his boyish charm. Of course, Smith's flippancy wouldn't play without Jones' earnest straight-man act. The movie is packed with fun moments: alien eyelids blinking sideways (you've got to see it), a talking pug, and supermarket tabloids proven correct. Everything you've ever read in the Star about aliens is true!

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Men in Black's over-the-top weapons and violence. Does any of it seem real? Why or why not?

  • Families can also discuss aliens. Do you think that there are other intelligent creatures out there?

  • Can you see why Men in Black spawned the sequels Men in Black II and Men in Black III? Would you like the series to continue?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 2, 1997
DVD release date:May 21, 2002
Cast:Linda Fiorentino, Tommy Lee Jones, Vincent D'Onofrio, Will Smith
Director:Barry Sonnenfeld
Studio:Columbia Tristar
Genre:Science Fiction
Topics:Space and aliens
Run time:113 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:language and sci-fi violence

This review of Men in Black was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Parent Written byPlague March 15, 2010
AGE
10
QUALITY
 

Men in Black

Awesome and funny alien movie. Kids will love it.

Kid, 12 years old Written bydogdigger June 26, 2010
AGE
11
QUALITY
 

mainly 11+

there are a is a bit of swearing in this movie

What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Teen, 14 years old Written byJadenp February 15, 2011
AGE
14
QUALITY
 

Suggested MPAA Rating:

PG-13 for language, sexual humor, and gory sci-fi violence.

What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing

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