Monday, January 16, 2012

Men In Black: Aliens Are F***in' Weird (Or Why Will Smith Ran The 90's)

Ahhh, the 90's and Will Smith. Few things go together as well as Will Smith and the 90's do. How do I know this? I mean, just look at the 90's. Will Smith was everywhere. 

First, in his breakout television role on the TV Sitcom, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Smith played essentially himself as a young, hip, and cool BAMF drippin' with swag straight from Philly. These words, "In West Philadelphia, born and raised..." are hallmarks of the early 90's and a signature tune to anyone from those times. Begin this song anywhere in America and I swear on everything holy and unholy in this world that any person over the age of 18 will hum or sing along with you. Guaranteed.

His role on Fresh Prince was followed up with a role in the film Independence Day, a precursor to the film I'm going to discuss in just a second.  Just in case you happened to miss out on any or all of the glory the 90's had to offer, here's a clip from Smith in his role as Captain Steven Hiller in Independence Day.

Yes. As Captain Hiller, Smith would first be introduced to alien life-forms. But it would be Agent J of the MIB that would put Smith on the path to the stars.
"You get a Series Four Deatomizer and I get a little - little midgy cricket? ...Feel like I'ma break this damn thing!"

The year was 1997 and Will Smith was on the up 'n up in Hollywood. A rising star with wit, passion, charisma, and intelligence, Will Smith was like a volcano erupting all over the 90's. Then Men In Black came out. The film did $84,133,900 in the opening weekend and did a total gross of $326,600,000 worldwide. This movie was a hit. Not just for Will Smith, but for Action-Comedy films everywhere. This film proved that with the right writers, the right director, and the right stars for a film, Action-Comedies were just as viable an option as either their straight Action or straight Comedy cousins. It was the dawn of a new age my friends. The Dawn of the Action-Comedy Blockbuster. And who was riding this typhoon of Awesomeness? Will. Fuckin'. Smith.

The plot is as follows: Men in Black follows the exploits of agents K (Tommy Lee Jones) and J (Will Smith), two members of a top-secret organization established to monitor and police alien activity on Earth. Agents K and J find themselves in the middle of a deadly plot by an intergalactic terrorist (Vincent D'Onofrio) who has arrived on Earth to assassinate two ambassadors from an opposing galaxy. In order to prevent worlds from almost literally colliding, the MiB must track down the terrorist, a giant cockroach running around in the skin of a dead human farmer, and prevent the destruction of Earth. If you couldn't already tell, it's just another typical day for the Men in Black.

And now for the breakdown.

The Breakdown
  • Ridiculousness: This film pretty much speaks for itself in terms of ridiculousness. It's a movie. About aliens. On Earth. Living amongst us. As immigrants. Umm...Yeah. To quote Zed, played by the incredibly awesome Rip Torn, "We're not hosting an intergalactic keggar down here, y'know." I know, Zed. I know. 4/5 Stars
  • Classiness: This movie is classy from start to finish. It's the late 90's and thus the crazy that was the 80's and early 90's has been refined and diluted to more consistently stable levels of Awesome. All black suit and tie with matching sunglasses? Check. Believable, down-to-Earth characters in a not-so-believable or down-to-earth plot? Check. Great depiction of the time period within which it takes place? Check. There are references to the 90's in this, that at the time, you'd never realize were total anachronisms of the day. But now? Here's an example: "Roaches check in...but they don't check out."  3.5/5 Stars
  • Cheesiness: Alright. This film is sort of loaded with cheese, but only in the very stereotypical 90's  cliche action-y kind of cheese. Otherwise known as the Cheesy Supreme Awesomesauce. Smith does a great job handling the bulk of the comedy in this flick, and Tommy Lee Jones as his straight-man mentor? Yeah. The man's a boss. Total boss. The only difference between him an Will Smith in the film? J makes "this" look good. Whatever "this" is. 3/5 Stars
  • Hilariousness: How funny is this film? Well, when I first saw it, (and I was about 7 years old mind you), I couldn't stop quoting it. "Aw, hell naw!" was a popular phrase at the time, as was the aforementioned, "I make this look GOOD!" But now...well, now it falls kind of flat. It leaves something to be desired. It's humorous, make no mistake, but laugh out loud funny? Eh. It has it's moments.  2/5 Stars
  • Awesomeness: an Awesome film. Coming in with an average of 3.125 StarsMen In Black is a film that while dated still has some funky freshness clinging to its timeless 90's attitude. And you know that's just awesome.

    And there you have it my fellow Extra-Terrestrials. Men In Black. Dissected and discussed as only an Aquillian's fake body can be. I leave you with this.

- Duke

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