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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Men in Black: International is the fourth movie in the MIB series. It serves as a kind of reboot, as it's the first film in the franchise without original stars Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones -- Thor: Ragnarok co-stars Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson take over as the leads. As is typical for the series, characters are often in peril, and there's a lot of over-the-top alien/sci-fi violence, including scary alien monsters, space guns and shooting (and some realistic guns, too), a scary melting face/body, punching, fighting, chases, and more. Expect brief, mild sexual innuendo (including a masturbation joke). Hemsworth's character wakes up in bed with a female alien; he removes her tentacled arm from his naked chest to get up. Language includes a few uses of "s--t," plus "ass," "hell," "d--k," and a few other words. Strong alien alcohol and drugs are briefly shown.
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What's the story?
In MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL, young Molly watches as her parents are visited by the Men in Black and neuralyzed after encountering an alien. She grows up wanting to join MIB and, through great perseverance, finally manages to find their headquarters. She's made a probationary agent, dubbed Agent M (Tessa Thompson), and sent to London, where she meets the reckless, charming Agent H (Chris Hemsworth). Their first mission is to meet a friendly alien called Vungus in a nightclub. After an attack by two powerful alien twins, Vungus gives Agent M a mysterious object, asking her not to trust anyone. Returning to headquarters, Agent M deduces that, for the attack to have happened, there must be a mole inside MIB headquarters. From there, M and H must keep tabs on the strange object -- and figure out what happened to Agent H on his last mission -- before they can save the universe.
Is it any good?
The fourth movie in the sci-fi/comedy series arrives at much the same place as the other sequels; it's fine but flat -- it's not as funny, surprising, or wondrous as the 1997 original. Thompson and Hemsworth worked together before in Thor: Ragnarok (and other Avengers movies), but their chemistry is somehow lacking in Men in Black: International. Once Thompson's Agent M achieves her dream, she doesn't seem to have anywhere to go but sideways, and Hemsworth just isn't as charming as he usually is (his character is going through something; he's muted and said to be "acting differently"). And the story they've been given is disappointingly routine, with dull villains and a "surprise" reveal that's all too easy to spot.
The original Men in Black was constantly surprising, since the aliens hid themselves on Earth in clever and unexpected ways; it was also very funny, thanks to Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones' expert-level banter -- not to mention the film's comically nonchalant attitude toward danger. Men in Black: International is more about scary bad guys, cool cars, and explosive weapons than it is about fun aliens or the suit-wearing heroes getting to know each other. It's too busy plowing through its plot to come up with any moments of delight or humanity that really resonate. The cast is still likable, and the movie looks good, but it just needed more.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Men in Black: International's violence. How did it make you feel? How much of it consists of special effects? Does the impact of movie violence change based on how realistic it is?
How does Agent M demonstrate perseverance? Is she a role model? What does it mean to have a woman of color as a lead character in a Hollywood movie like this? Why does representation matter in the media?
Is the movie scary? Does knowing the aliens aren't real make them less scary?
How does MIB: International compare to the other movies in the series? To the comics or the TV series?
- In theaters: June 14, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: September 3, 2019
- Cast: Tessa Thompson, Chris Hemsworth, Rebecca Ferguson, Emma Thompson
- Director: F. Gary Gray
- Studio: Columbia Pictures
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Topics: Space and Aliens
- Character Strengths: Perseverance, Teamwork
- Run time: 115 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sci-fi action, some language and suggestive material
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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