Men in Black is a 1997 science fiction action comedy film directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, starring Tommy Lee Jones, Will Smith and Vincent D'Onofrio. The film was based on the Men in Black comic book series by Lowell Cunningham, originally published by Aircel Comics. The film featured the creature effects and makeup of Rick Baker. The film was released on July 2, 1997 by Columbia Pictures and grossed over $587 million worldwide against a $90 million budget. It was followed by a 2002 sequel, Men in Black II, and an animated series titled, Men in Black: The Series.
The MIB, a top-secret agency (headquartered in a Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority ventilation station) that polices, monitors and directs alien activity on Earth, has established the Earth as an apolitical "neutral zone" for alien refugees (as Agent K explains, like Casablanca with no Nazis). The MIB answer to no government; their funding comes from the patents they own on technology confiscated from aliens, such as velcro, microwave ovens, and liposuction. When a new agent joins the MIB, every public record of his/her existence is deleted and all identifying marks (including fingerprints) are physically removed from his/her body.
Any memory of MIB activity upon "mustering out" of the MIB is erased and a new identity is created for the departing agent. Into this strange world is ushered the initially skeptical Det/Sgt James Edwards (Will Smith), an NYPD officer, as he becomes Agent J, one of the newest MIB personnel. Tommy Lee Jones plays K, a senior MIB agent who recruits and guides J as he learns the ropes.
MIB agents wear black suits and neckties with white shirts, and appear at UFO landing sites, similar to paranormal reports of real-world Men in Black. Since the MIB are a secret organization, no evidence of their existence can be left. Instead of intimidating or threatening witnesses, the MIB use devices known as "Neuralyzers" to wipe witnesses' memories of what they have seen, and replace the memories with more mundane explanations, such as swamp gas or weather balloons. All agents carry a pair of black sunglasses, which they put on before activating a Neuralyzer to shield themselves from the effects. Neuralyzers are also used on agents who leave the organization for any reason or for agents that do not have the mental or emotional capacity to continue with the organization. K and J drive around in a seemingly inconspicuous black car, which J initially identifies as a Ford 'POS' (piece of shit) , a 1987 Ford LTD Crown Victoria, which, with the press of a "little red button" on the gear stick transforms into a high-speed rocket-propelled car.
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