Men in Black Movie Poster Image

Men in Black

Lots of fun, but too scary for some kids.
Parents recommendPopular with kids
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Release Year: 1997
  • Running Time: 113 minutes

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.


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.



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



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


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"). 

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?


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/Streaming 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

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

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

Great handpicked alternatives

  • Men in Black II Movie Poster Image
    Crazy creatures, some scares, and loads of fun.
  • Beetlejuice Movie Poster Image
    Early Tim Burton is creepy, dark fun for tweens and teens.
  • Ghostbusters Movie Poster Image
    Paranormal '80s classic has some scares, innuendo.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Kid, 12 years old June 26, 2010

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
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
Parent Written byPlague March 15, 2010

Men in Black

Awesome and funny alien movie. Kids will love it.