Men in Black is a 1997 American science fiction comedy film directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, produced by Walter F. Parkes and Laurie MacDonald, and written by Ed Solomon. Loosely adapted from The Men in Black comic book series created by Lowell Cunningham and Sandy Carruthers, the film stars Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith as two agents of a secret organization called the Men in Black, who supervise extraterrestrial lifeforms who live on Earth and hide their existence from ordinary humans. The film featured the creature effects and makeup of Rick Baker and visual effects by Industrial Light & Magic.
The film was released on July 2, 1997 by Columbia Pictures, and grossed over $589.3 million worldwide against a $90 million budget, becoming the year's third highest-grossing film. It received worldwide acclaim, with critics highly praising its witty, sophisticated humor, plot, thematic profundity, action scenes, Jones and Smith's performances, directing, special effects and Danny Elfman's musical score. The film received three Academy Award nominations: Best Art Direction, Best Original Score, and Best Makeup, winning the latter award.
The film spawned two sequels, Men in Black II (2002) and Men in Black 3 (2012); a spin-off film, Men in Black: International (2019); and a 1997-2001 animated series.
After a government agency makes first contact with aliens in 1961, alien refugees live in secret on Earth by disguising themselves as humans in the New York metropolitan area. Men in Black is a secret agency that polices these aliens, protects Earth from intergalactic threats, and uses memory-erasing neuralyzers to keep alien activity a secret. Men in Black agents have their former identities erased, and retired agents are neuralyzed and given new identities. After an operation to arrest an alien criminal named Mikey near the Mexican border by Agents K and D, D decides that he is too old for his job, prompting K to neuralyze him and look for a new partner.
New York Police Department officer James Darrell Edwards III pursues a supernaturally fast and agile suspect into the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Impressed, K interviews James about his encounter, then neuralyzes him and leaves him a business card with an address. Edwards goes to the address and undergoes a series of tests, for which he finds unorthodox solutions, including a rational hesitation in a targeting test. While the other candidates, who are military-grade, are neuralyzed, K offers Edwards a position with the Men in Black. Edwards accepts and his identity and civilian life are erased, becoming Agent J respectively.
In upstate New York, an alien illegally crash-lands on Earth and kills a farmer named Edgar to use his skin as a disguise. Tasked with finding a device called "The Galaxy", the Edgar alien goes into a New York restaurant and finds two aliens (disguised as humans) who are supposed to have it in their possession. He kills them and takes a container from them but is angered to find only diamonds inside. After learning about the incident in a tabloid magazine, K investigates the crash landing and concludes that Edgar's skin was taken by a "bug", a species of aggressive cockroach-like aliens. He and J head to a morgue to examine the bodies the bug killed. Inside one body (which turns out to be a piloted robot) they discover a dying Arquillian alien, who says that "to prevent war, the galaxy is on Orion's belt". The alien, who used the name Rosenberg, was a member of the Arquillian royal family; K fears his death may spark a war.
Men in Black informant Frank the Pug, an alien disguised as a pug, explains that the missing galaxy is a massive energy source housed in a small jewel. J deduces that the galaxy is hanging on the collar of Rosenberg's cat, Orion, which refuses to leave the body at the morgue. J and K arrive just as the bug takes the galaxy and kidnaps the coroner, Laurel Weaver. Meanwhile, an Arquillian battleship fires a warning shot in the Arctic and delivers an ultimatum to Men in Black: return the galaxy within a "galactic standard week", in an hour of Earth time, or they will destroy Earth.
The bug arrives at the observation towers of the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair New York State Pavilion at Flushing Meadows, which disguise two real flying saucers. Once there, Laurel escapes the bug's clutches when it accidentally drops her. It activates one of the saucers and tries to leave Earth, but K and J shoot it down and the ship crashes into the Unisphere. The bug sheds Edgar's skin and swallows J and K's guns. K provokes it until he too is swallowed. The bug tries to escape on the other ship, but J slows it down by taunting it and crushing cockroaches, angering it. K blows the bug apart from the inside, having found his gun inside its stomach. J and K recover the galaxy and relax, thinking the whole ordeal over, only for the still living upper half of the bug to pounce on them from behind, but Laurel kills it with J's gun.
At Men in Black headquarters, K tells J that he has not been training him as a partner, but a replacement. K bids J farewell before J neuralyzes him at his request; K returns to his civilian life, and Laurel becomes J's new partner, L. The camera pulls back and zooms out to reveal the entire galaxy is a marble just like the one around the neck of the cat, Orion—being used to play marbles by an alien.
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