Men In Black has a lot in common with the Addams Family movies - also directed by Barry Sonnenfeld. Both take a wild premise and builds its story around it, doggedly pursuing that premise to its often (il)logical conclusion.
The premise behind the universe of the Men In Black, is that there is in fact a secret government organization consisting of agents dressed in black that goes around covering up the truth behind UFO landings and sightings. Everything you read ("Alien Stole My Husband's Face") in those supermarket tabloids is actually true. Whereas the marketing behind the film may have led audiences to expect another Independence Day (1996), Men In Black is nothing of the sort: it doesn't take its own premise seriously for a second. Besides, Men In Black is far better than Independence Day (1996) for that very same reason. Its tongue is tucked firmly in its own cheek...
But while Men In Black is a reasonably intelligent and fun comedy, it never reaches the dizzying comic heights of, let's say, Addams Family Values. Neither is it as subversive. Rather think of it as Ghostbusters meet The X-Files (1998). It is a good comedy, but never becomes a great comedy.
However, it is easy to see that why it is doing so well. After all, its competition, the other summer blockbusters this year consists of the likes of Speed 2, Jurassic Park: The Lost World (1997) and Batman & Robin - films that seriously insult the intelligence of its audiences.
Review by James O'Ehley from The
Sci-Fi Movie Page.