Men in Black

Movie review by
Randy White, Common Sense Media
Men in Black Movie Poster Image
Lots of fun, but too scary for some kids.
  • PG-13
  • 1997
  • 113 minutes
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 16 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 90 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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 & Representations

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.

 

What 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"). 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byPlague March 15, 2010

Men in Black

Awesome and funny alien movie. Kids will love it.
Adult Written byjoshua martinez July 21, 2010
men in black is one of the best sci-fi movies ever but the movie has some violence and some language used.
Teen, 14 years old Written byJadenp February 15, 2011
Suggested MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language, sexual humor, and gory sci-fi violence.
Kid, 12 years old June 26, 2010

mainly 11+

there are a is a bit of swearing in this movie

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?

Part comedy, part science-fiction parody, and part action film, the movie just keeps throwing elements into the pot. What's so original about Men in Black is its unpredictable tone. 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!

Talk to your kids 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

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

For kids who love aliens

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate