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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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").
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- 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?
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? Does the impact of movie violence change based on how realistic it is?
Talk about aliens. Do you think that there are other intelligent creatures out there?
- In theaters: July 2, 1997
- On DVD or streaming: 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
- Character Strengths: Teamwork
- Run time: 113 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: language and sci-fi violence
- Last updated: March 16, 2020
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