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James Edwards: Why the big secret? People are smart. They can handle it. Kay: A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it. Fifteen hundred years ago everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet.
An MIB agent code-named K (Tommy Lee Jones) seeks out a new recruit to monitor alien activity on earth. The MIB pass over Navy SEALs and Green Berets, instead deciding on the quick-thinking and fast-talking NYPD James Edwards (Will Smith). Without knowing what he was recruited for, James (now codenamed "J") is told that the MIB agency is beyond all government jurisdiction, and that they are responsible for the alien (and we do mean it) immigrants who have taken residence on Earth. Part of the MIB's effective cover-up is using advanced alien technology to impersonate actual government officials, and especially the use of a device called the Neuralyzer, which is able to give Laser-Guided Amnesia to anyone not wearing special MIB-issue tinted glasses.The Men in Black films are only moderately based on the original comics, mostly borrowing the concept and wardrobe of the agents. With a smart sense of humor, the deadpan delivery of Tommy Lee Jones as the seen-it-all K and the much lauded performance of Will Smith as J, the first Men In Black movie was one of the most popular films of 1997. Some publicity was garnered on advertising posters from the fact that they are literally "Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones." Will Smith also released a tie-in music video entitled "Men In Black."Men in Black II came out in 2002, and although it was somewhat well-received, it was considered a case of "more of the same" sequelitis. With K officially retired (with his memory wiped and civilian identity restored) J has been working overtime as the top field agent of MiB. A powerful and malevolent alien named Serleena returns to Earth looking for "The Light of Zartha," which is tied to a case K was involved with back in the 70's. To get the information they need, they reinstate K and get back to business. Much like the first movie, Will Smith released a tie-in music video entitled "Black Suits Comin' (Nod Ya Head)".Men in Black 3 (stylized MIB3, but notMIB:3D, though it was released in 3D in select theatres) was released on May 25, 2012, with Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith reprising their roles and the writer for Tropic Thunder and Idiocracy on writing duties. A very dangerous Boglodite named Boris The Animal (...IT'S. JUST. BORIS!!...) breaks out of a lunar prison and swears revenge on K, who arrested him 40 years ago and was responsible for him losing his left arm. He successfully erases K from the present by helping his younger self to kill him in 1969, allowing a Boglodite invasion. J, somehow the only one in the present who notices the change, must travel back to 1969 to Set Right What Once Went Wrong. Pitbull sings over the credits this time ("NUMBAA TWOOOOOOOOOO!!"), though his single "Back in Time" was included in his studio album Global Warming, and not on the OST itself.
The Twins who run the MIB headquarters are named Blblup and Bob. Note that we're guessing on how the first one's spelled. And the second one too. The novelization provides spelled-out alien names for both. Both also have Earth nicknames, "Jack" and "Gracie."
The fake names Kay makes up for himself and Jay while investigating the alien "Hi I'm Special Agent Mannheim/Dr. Leo Manville, this is Special Agent Black/Dr. White"
Alien Autopsy: The coroner, Laurel, ends up performing these inadvertently on two non-human corpses. It's suggested that she is one of the MIB's most frequently neuralyzed individuals for this very reason.
Aliens Steal Cattle: For a movie about aliens and UFOs, it's notably averted. When the Bug arrives at the farmhouse where Edgar lives, a cow is seen grazing near the truck, but then the cow leaves the truck shortly before the Bug's spacecraft totals it while landing, and Bug!Edgar doesn't express any interest in the cattle on the farm.
Almost Dead Guy: The Arquillian Prince inside the jeweler's body, who survives long enough to give a cryptic clue to the protagonists. Not that he was being cryptic on purpose. Poor fellow was clearly dealing with a language barrier.
Amnesia Missed a Spot: When J meets Dr. Weaver in the morgue, they vaguely notice that they may have met before, but dismiss it as Deja Vu. In the beginning of the movie, they had met, but K had wiped both of their memories.
Amusing Alien: Lots, but the Worm Guys and Jeebs are probably the best example.
J points the Noisy Cricket in K's face as soon as K hands it to him. K then proceeds to have J carry the gun into the field without having had a chance to practice with it. Both are major gun safety no-nos. J is supposed to be a trained police officer, who should know something about handling firearms* Although police are nowhere near as well trained with firearms as people think they are, this is pretty damn basic.. Even if it doesn't look like a 9mm, he should employ the same basic safety practices as with a real gun, especially knowing it's a sidearm.
J treated his service pistol in the same stupid way, having it stuffed down the front of his pants earlier in the movie. At least K slapped the gun out of his face.
Brick Joke: When J learns about aliens living in New York, he immediately assumes they work as cab drivers, and is told, "Not as many as you'd think." A while later, Dr. Laurel, when it's revealed to her, starts on a rant along the lines of, "I knew it. There was this cab driver the other day..."
Buffy Speak: J calls the neuralyzer the "Flashy-Thing," and refers to getting neuralyzed as "flashy-thinged." This continues for most of the first film, with J using terms like "the little dude inside the big dude's head."
Call Back: When J runs out of the factory after Boris attempts to kill Griffin, he runs out onto the top of a parked car and takes aim with a standard revolver. This whole scene is exactly like the scene in the first film where he is given the 'Noisy Cricket' and attempts to stop the bad guy, virtually everything from the weapon he's not happy about to his missing the bad guy and the collateral damage is and exact replica of the same scene.
Casting Gag: The posters play on the fact that the film's two main stars had the last names "Smith" and "Jones"... you know, the kind of super-plain codenames you'd expect two anonymous, black-suited government agents to use.
The flying saucers from the first MIB meeting in 1961, converted into towers at Flushing.
The little red button in the LTD.
K ordering J to fasten his seat belt, J lecturing him about politeness, and K politely asking J to put on a seat belt after pushing the little red button.
Chekhov's Skill: Though played for laughs, when J shoots little Tiffany, his description of the situation demonstrates a skilled ability to pick up on details in the scene. While it seems he's simply embellishing to Zed, J is later the one who makes the connection between the jeweler's cat Orion and the "Orion's Belt" clue. It's made all the more awesome by the novelization revealing his rationale for shooting Tiffany was CORRECT, something none of the other applicants succeeded at. He also remembers the flying saucers at the World's Fair in Queens, realizing that the Bug could use the mothballed ships to escape.
Covert Group with Mundane Front: In the beginning, Kay introduces himself and Dee as "INS, Division Six", much to the confusion of the border patrol officers. This extended to the animated series, where Jay and Kay would introduce themselves in any position tangentially-related to the situation as "Division Six".
Creator Cameo: Director Barry Sonnenfeld and his daughter are seen as two of the aliens under surveillance by the MIB.
Creepy Cockroach: There's a giant roach alien who devours a human and uses his skin as a disguise. He also leaves swarms of roaches wherever he goes, and loves sugar (preferably in water).
Custom Uniform: MIB 1 ends with J wearing custom shades and looking more like a rap mogul.
Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: Both the tow truck driver and the morgue receptionist learn this the hard way.
Drives Like Crazy: K. Just push the Big Red Button, and his car grows a rocket. He then drives on the roof of the Queens-Midtown Tunnel while singing along to Elvis Presley's "Promised Land", and pays the toll without missing a beat.
Drool Hello: Indirectly. After K enters the morgue to find out what's happened to J, he tries to light a cigarette but the match is put out by a drip of slime. He looks up, and now we know what happened to the clerk...
Eat Me: Trope Namer. K goads the Bug into eating him so he can retrieve his gun and blow it up from the inside.
Eccentric Exterminator: The first movie gives us Ed, who is a pretty normal fella (or as normal as someone played by Vincent D'Onofrio can be...) until a giant bug from outer space uses his body as a disguise and steals an exterminator's van, giving us quite a bit of this vibe.
Enemy Rising Behind: After K blasts his way out of the Bug, he and J sit back to reflect on the moment while the upper half of the Bug crawls behind them to attack, only to be blasted at the last second by Laurel using J's gun.
Epic Fail: Played With; "May I ask why you felt little Tiffany deserved to die?". J points out that the freaky looking aliens all could be doing fairly innocuous things like working out, while Tiffany is walking around with physics textbooks well out of her grade range in a dark alley. Zed is not amused. The novelization reveals J was actually RIGHT in his reasoning and had shot the only real threatnote This is alluded to in the movie as well; in the conversation with K that immediately follows, Z brings up J's test scores and flippant attitude, but doesn't argue that simulation against him.
E.T. Gave Us Wi-Fi: The MIB has been supporting themselves by selling alien technology, helping along the development of modern tech. Microwaves and wi-fi are all alien tech, and in the expanded universe, cell phones, solar power, and many more were all reverse-engineered from contraband.
Et Tu, Brute?: The worms are spotted leaving MIB headquarters with a cartful of cigarettes, leaving their co-workers to rot.
Zed: You SORRY LITTLE INGRATES!
Eureka Moment: J figures out the Arquillian prince's last words meant when he sees Frank barking at a cat.
Exact Words: The "You can have my gun..." exchange. Even more layers of this in this scene, as the novelization reveals that prior to assimilating Edgar's memories, the Bug was using a crappy translator. It renders the saying "Your funeral" into the exact meaning of "Your proposal is acceptable."
Also, Bug!Edgar, when talking with the head chef in regards to where "little Ivan" is (the server who was supposed to be serving the ambassadors of the two alien races that Bug!Edgar is trying to assassinate and steal the galaxy from), responds that he "gave him a break." The camera pans, revealing that Bug!Edgar means this quite literally, having broken his body in half and stuffed him into a shelf.
The Bug clearly despises humans, and refers to them by a variety of unflattering terms, including "undeveloped pond-scum," "monkey-boys," "meat-sacks" and "milk-suckers." The rest of his species, according to K, are probably very much the same.
This seems to be a major factor of most aliens as K explains that human thought is so primitive it's considered an infectious disease in the better galaxies.
Agent J uses this to provoke the Space Cockroach into attacking him by crushing normal cockroaches under his feet.
Fanservice: Linda Fiorentino getting kidnapped by a giant disguised insect from space, struggling to scape all while showing us her rather lovely buttocks and legs. Likewise, when she gets stuck in a nearby tree for a good deal of the final battle.
Fashion Dissonance: Agent J's getup at the end of the film (oval-rim sunglasses, long Nehru jacket, and band collar without a necktie) was Hollywood haute-couture for a brief moment towards the end of The Nineties. Its purpose in the film is probably to make him look more "up-to-date" and "hip". Tellingly, he goes back to a normal black suit for the sequels.
Fiction as Cover-Up: Tabloids serve a double purpose: they act as part of the alien cover-up by causing people to dismiss any stories they hear about aliens while also being a legitimate source of news for those in the know.
First Day from Hell: J becomes involved in a plot to save the galaxy within his first day or so.
Subverted in that K berates his actions that could expose them by informing J that there is always a crisis on their hands
K: There is always an Arquillian battle cruiser, or a Corillian Death Ray, or an intergalactic plague that is about to wipe out all life on this miserable little planet, and the only way these people can get on with their happy lives is that they do no know about it!
Fourth Wall Psych: When the bug invades Rosenberg's jewlery shop, he appears to walk up to the camera and punch it, cracking the lens. Then the supposedly-ruined camera pans out and we see that he's actually trying to break through the glass door to the shop.
In one scene, there are two brief shots of Orion the cat where the name on Orion's collar (belt) is visible.
Freudian Threat: "I want you on the next transport off this rock or I'm going to shoot you where it don't grow back."
Funny Background Event: Zed neuralyzing the rejected recruits as J and K walk by shortly after the recruitment process. Also, the memorable alien-childbirth scene, which supplies the page image for the trope. Also, while K and J are looking at the screen showing the disguised aliens, a group of MIB office workers are conversing in the background, with one of them standing on the ceiling.
The course of action taken after people who witness UFO's or aliens are neuralyzed.
Agent K: The flash of light you saw in the sky was not a UFO. Swamp gas from a weather balloon was trapped in a thermal pocket and reflected the light from Venus.
Played for Laughs in one scene when Agent J tries to give the standard cover story without having a neuralyzer.
Genius Bruiser: J can beat aliens in a foot race and punch some of them out. But he's also a lateral thinker able to see the forest when everybody else is focused on the trees, and is usually able to make logical leaps that K can't.
Good Cop/Bad Cop: Used in the scene with Jeebs, before James is officially recruited. K threatens to blow Jeebs' head off if he doesn't talk, and James plays along, saying that K's not messing around. What James doesn't realize is that K wasn't bluffing, and he quickly gets in over his head.
Hammerspace: How the Bug fits in the Edgar-suit (although he's clearly not too comfy). It makes some sense when you know that roaches are capable of pressing their bodies together to fit into tighter spaces; it makes them extremely resistant against being killed by stepping on them (you need a hard flat surface for that to work). Since the Bug is based on roaches in design and physiology, it's not too far-fetched to assume he has an improved version of that survival technique.
Humans Are Morons: "A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it."
Agent K: Human thought is so primitive, it is looked upon as an infectious disease in some of the better galaxies. Kind of makes you feel proud, doesn't it?
Ignorance Is Bliss: "There's always an Arquillian Battle Cruiser, or a Corillian Death Ray, or an intergalactic plague that is about to wipe out all life on this miserable little planet, and the only way these people can get on with their happy lives is that they DO NOT KNOW ABOUT IT!"
I Love the Dead: Implied for Laurel. As a bonus, Laurel at one point explicitly states the inverse, "I hate the living."
In Name Only: The first five minutes of the movie is a faithful reproduction of the first few pages of the first issue of the comic. After that, they have almost nothing in common.
Insignificant Little Blue Planet: Zig-Zagged trope. It's clearly stated that most aliens view Earth as a very unimportant planet. In fact, that's why these aliens visit: it's "an apolitical zone for aliens without a planet," the Casablanca of the universe. Of course, having so many alien species mingling every day (some of who are considered royalty on their homeworld) means that, in consequence, Earth Is the Center of the Universe.
This then gets worked into the film's Anthropic Principle: the Men In Black keep up The Masquerade to make sure the neutral zone stays neutral. Which leads into a nasty conclusion: the Men In Black will keep using the neuralizers forever, as they themselves agree with all the aliens that humans are so stupid that they only way Earth can thrive is as a neutral zone. As long as the Men In Black are around, we will never go to deep space.
Insult Backfire: Human intelligence is so primitive that it's considered an infectious disease on other planets. "Kinda makes you proud, doesn't it?"
Inventor of the Mundane: The MIB owns the patents to some 'out of town' inventions, naming a few which make quite a bit of sense; Velcro (invented by NASA), microwave ovens (invented by a military defense contractor), liposuction (pre-dates alien contact, but was mostly a creative form of mutilation before the development of ultrasonics - another military invention)...
Lame Excuse: The human smuggler at the beginning of the movie tells the Border Patrol he's been fishing in Cuernavaca to explain why he's driving across the Mexican border late at night. The Border Patrol agent has already busted him for smuggling on several previous occasions, so he doesn't buy this excuse for one second.
Laser-Guided Amnesia: How the Neuralyzer works. They can be set to wipe someone of certain memories of someone, or the last twenty minutes of aliens trying to kill them. Repeated neuralyzations, however, cause deja vu in some subjects. Combined with No Fourth Wall in one of the commercials, in which J and K ask viewers how they liked the movie, then fire the Neuralyzer directly at the camera, and then invite the audience to go see the film: it's full of surprises.
Layman's Terms: Zed compares Earth's predicament to being the last party-goer who gets stuck with the check.
Leno Device: The end of the first movie shows tabloid articles talking about the effects of the climax on the public, including a conspiracy theory forming about Detroit perfecting a rocket car and one story about the baseball player who missed the catch during the baseball game shown in the movie claiming "UFO MADE ME MISS HOME RUN!" (which is actually true). Of course, the joke is that the tabloids contain the best source of information for MIB ("You can try the New York Times if you want. They get lucky sometimes.")
Long List: K and Zed muse over the NYC and Jersey-based aliens who have already flown the coop. The list ends with Staten Island ("Gone, thank God.").
Losing Your Head: Jeebs. K shoots him in the head and he regrows it, with complaints about the inconvenience.
Jeebs: You insensitive pricks! Do you have any idea how much that stings?
K: Show us the merchandise or you'll lose another head, Jeebs.
Lost in Translation: The Arquillian Prince says that "The galaxy lies on Orion's Belt." Orion is actually his cat's name and the "belt" is actually a mistranslation of "collar."
Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: Disappearance of a man after encountering a UFO and a suicide —> theft of a galaxy and possible destruction of the Earth.
Mobile-Suit Human: Rosenberg. The alien prince of the Arquillian Empire who had the Galaxy was piloting one ("the little dude inside the big dude's head"), the better to hide from enemies — and to pet his cat.
Mood Whiplash: J is more than happy to help K with doing the whole Good Cop/Bad Cop routine while questioning Jeebs, until K holy shit blows Jeebs's head off, at which point J drops the act and screams at K to drop his weapon. (The mood is restored when Jeebs's head grows back.)
Muggles: Any person not part of the MIB is called a "Neutral".
Naïve Newcomer: J in the first movie indulges in Uncle Tomfoolery. K is somewhat less of one in the second when J tries to bring him back, though J still gets exasperated when he keeps poking everything.
Needle in a Stack of Needles: When "Edgar" escapes with the Galaxy and Laurel, J realizes he's escaped in a cab. The trouble is, the movie is set in New York, and it's rush hour. However, K makes him stop, saying "He's not leaving [Earth] in a cab."
J:(to K) The dude was that ugly before he was an alien?
No Such Agency: Played With. Originally a Federal agency, the MIB splintered off since the government "asked too many questions." They erased any and all records and memories of their existence from their own government, getting their funding from the patents of alien technologies.
The Bug losing patience with Laurel and J's bickering.
"Hey, OLD GUYS." (cut to Zed and K shooting Death Glares at him)
Non-Answer: During the recruitment, J asks why they were there, and one of the military-trained recruits responds that Zed is looking the "the best of the best of the best, sir." J deduces, correctly, that none of the others knows why they're there either, and are following a "do what you're told" mentality. Given the results of the test, it's entirely possible that the recruitment process was just a going-through-the-motions act put on for the benefit of J and/or Zed.
Nonverbal Miscommunication: J (understandably) misreading Laurel's frantic signals that the Bug is hiding in the trolley as a come-on.
Noodle Incident: Agent K tells Agent J, "you should've been here for the Zeronion migration in 1968." Additionally, whatever's going on in the Arquillian empire that has resulted in one of its princes living in exile.
Agent K: [shows J a LARGE pistol] Series 4 De-atomizer.
Agent J: That's what I'm talking about!
Agent K: [shows J a tiny pistol] Noisy Cricket. [hands it to him]
Agent J: Kay, no, no, come on, man. You get a Series 4 De-atomizer, and I get a little midget Cricket? [snip] Feel like I'm gonna break this damn thing!
This one is actually a subversion of the usual gag, as the weapon J gets really IS the better one; it just doesn't look like it. J is later surprised when the weapon causes massive explosions akin to grenades. (While hurling him backward due to recoil.)
Obfuscating Stupidity: J, to a degree. The entire first act of the movie is designed to show that his streetwise smart-ass routine is largely a put-on and he's actually a very good, and even insightful, detective.
Obvious Stunt Double: An infamous scene reveals that Will Smith's stunt double during the "Remember the little red button? Push the little red button" gag was Caucasian.
Public Secret Message: Agent K explains that tabloids, which are assumed to be hoaxes by muggles, are in fact based on true events behind The Masquerade (since tabloids have less Weirdness Censor than "serious" newspapers). Later, when Agent K retires, Agent J notices an article with Agent K's photo and an article about a postal worker who returned to his old job after years in a coma, revealing Agent K's fate, which then becomes a major plot point in the second film.
The MacGuffin that draws Edgar Bug to Earth in the first film is a miniature galaxy. The final scene reveals that our galaxy is just like the MacGuffin, and lies several layers down within a miniature galaxy-orb that an alien is playing marbles with.
Men in Black II pulls a similar gag by showing a world inside a locker where K's watch is a symbol of worship, then at the end, K shows J that their world is also simply inside a larger locker. An alternate ending has J going on vacation and ending up on the world inside the locker and the size of its inhabitants, implying some sort of change in size when you go through the locker door, or that the lockers are more of a Portal Network.
The bit about the gun is a Mythology Gag referencing the surprisingly obscure comic the movie was based on. It turns out much better for the farmer in that one, though - the bugs REALLY needed his gun (for a high-stakes scavenger hunt), but not so urgently that they couldn't wait him out.
Running Gag: Whenever J neuralizes anyone, he tends to give them long rambling speeches in which he gives meaningful personal advice about their lives, goes into wild irrelevant tangents about the situation, and encourages them to do exciting and/or fun things - particularly as a counterpoint to K, who always gives very brusque and to-the-point memories and wants to be done with it. It pops up once in this movie, but really takes off in the second and third films.
Sadist Teacher: J discovers that one he had in grade school is actually an alien from one of the moons of Jupiter.
Safety In Muggles: While the Neuralizer makes fighting outside doable, the general idea is to avoid being seen when fighting aliens.
Salt and Pepper: Agent J, played by Will Smith, and Agent K, played by Tommy Lee Jones, are partners. Kay exhibits a very serious demeanor, rarely joking or smiling and giving very matter-of-fact responses. Jay has an energetic, enthusiastic attitude and refusal to strictly follow authority that Kay admired when he first met NYPD officer James Edwards who would become Agent J.
Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Very nearly averted. K explains that a grouchy alien was stuck in customs after traveling 17 trillion miles...or a bit under 3 light-years. While this wouldn't get you to the nearest known star to our sun (Proxima Centauri), it would at least put you in interstellar space.
Seen It All: Agent K. J keeps trying this, but K manages to surprise him. Many other MIB personnel have a similar reaction to what happens; Zed doesn't even look up from his desk when the bouncy-ball starts careening around his office, except to move his head slightly out of the way.
Agent J tells K not to "go all Jack Webb" on the coroner.
Sighted Guns Are Low Tech: Despite the high tech look of their giant guns, J and K don't actually need to aim them to shoot down a UFO. Could be that they fire heat seeking rounds, or some such advanced tech that replaces the need for manual aiming.
The aforementioned threat made to Edgar the cockroach in the Exact Words entry. And the result.
Also, when kidnapping Laurel, she threatens that if Bug!Edgar does anything to her (after claiming that she's Earth's ruler or even a goddess), Earth will declare war on his species in an attempt to get him to let her go. Unfortunately, this gave Bug!Edgar a lot more incentive to kidnap her than before ("War? Good. That means more food for my family. All 78 million of them. That's a lot of mouths to feed, Highness.")
Parodied and played straight. A galactic week is one hour. The Arquellian message displays a timer labeled "Earth Time Remaining", counting down the hour.
And the MIB operates on a 37-hour-day. According to Zed, "You get used to it. Or you have a psychotic episode."
Two Roads Before You: As the first movie demonstrates with J, all prospective agents have the choice between remaining in their current occupations and leading their lives, or joining the agency and severing all ties to their former lives.
J: Is it worth it? K: Oh, it's worth it... if you're strong enough.
Wistful Amnesia: J and Laurel (who had previously met, but were later neuralized) both think the other looks familiar when they meet for the first time (again). It's implied that those who have been neuralized do retain scraps of memory, usually chalked up to deja vu.
Worthless Yellow Rocks: The two Arquillians at the diner were chatting and one noticed an ornamental case on the table and said with awe "Is that it?" The other replied "No, just some diamonds for your children."
Anal Probing: Sci-Fi nerd Newton, upon finding out what J and K actually do, raises the question, "What's up with anal probing?"
Apathetic Citizens: J is thrown through the window of a New York subway train shortly after attempting to sedate the giant toothed alien monster with a tranquilizer and immediately starts shouting at everyone to evacuate to the next car. The passengers ignore him until a giant toothed alien monster bites a chunk off the car. Once the crisis is resolved and the train limps to a stop in the station, he neuralyzes them and starts chewing them out about this by pointing out that in an actual emergency, they would have been eaten. He then reneuralyzes them once he realizes that he's carried on for far too long, now with a hilarious story requesting that they enjoy using new space-efficient, energy-saving cars.
Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Serleena murders Ben after he refuses to divulge the location of the Light of Zartha. She also steals some of the pizza from his restaurant.
Ascended Extra: Frank the Pug and the worms from the first film, having gone from bit characters to supporting ones. This is likely because of the cartoon having given them more popularity.
Badass Grandpa: Don't mess with Zed, man. He will air-juggle your ass.
Balloon Belly: Serleena gets one after swallowing the mugger in the park whole, which she manages to get rid of by spitting him back out.
Balls of Steel: K is trying to fight off an alien with little success until J points out that that particular alien is impervious to groin attacks...because his balls are on his chin instead. His species is Ballchinian!* A hilarious ad-lib, to boot, as some of the other takes identified him as a Godnadineck, Nutchinian, Chinball, Nutthroatean, and Chinsackian. There were likely many others.
Don't pull on Jeff's flower head, or else he will go into an immense rampage across the city and the subway system.
Don't mention to K that his wife left him because he spends most of his time stargazing and wondering if there's more going on out there. Also something of a Callback to the first movie where he mentions how he left his girlfriend to become MIB.
Big Eater: Serleena's entire species are implied to be this.
Biting-the-Hand Humor: When J sees the intro of the Z-movie about the light of Zartha in film 2, he says, that it "Looks like Spielberg's work." Doubles as Self-Deprecation, since he's also the producer of film 2.
Call Back: After K regains his memory, the constellation he stares at is Orion.
The diner J and T go to has a UFO in it. Word of God says it's the same UFO that belonged to "Edgar" before it got taken by MIB. It's also a mythology gag to the animated series, where a UFO crashed into a diner, and after neurolizing the owners, J congratulated them on their new decoration.
City of Weirdos: MIB 2 had a scene where J can't clear a subway car he just crashed into because everyone dismisses him as just a New York nut. At least they get moving when a giant worm starts eating the car.
Cut the Juice: J ordered the power to the facility be cut in order to cancel Serleena's flight with Laura and the light of Zartha, but the plan ended up proving to be unnecessary after J managed to stop the launch sequence at the last second.
Disney Death: Variation. When J attempts to establish a communication channel with Frank, he gives Frank an order, but his transmission was cut inexplicably, leading the worms and Frank (and initially the audience) to think that J and K were shot down and killed by Serleena. However, it later becomes apparent that J and K survived, but the earlier shot only disabled their communications, thus explaining why the transmission ended.
Earth-Shattering Kaboom: The beginning of the film shows Sarleena destroying planets she passed by. Even more amazing when the viewers find out that the ship is only a foot tall
Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong: K, Frank, and Zed all talk about their own sexual experiences with aliens at the end of MIB II to cheer J up after his Love Interest was forced to return home, much to J's disgust.
Fan Disservice: Serleena in just her underwear, right after she's eaten someone alive leaving her stomach unrealistically bulging out.
Fanservice: Rosario Dawson's presence, though it's kind of dwarfed by having Lara Flynn Boyle playing as an alien that disguises itself as an underwear model in leather. Not so implausible, since III confirms that all of Earth's supermodels are aliens.
Forgot the Call: K got tired of working, and asked to be neuralyzed. The first half of the second movie is spent trying to get his memory back due to him knowing a Plot Coupon he also forgot.
Mythology Gag: When the man reading the newspaper expresses his gladness while reading his newspaper about J and K returning to the MIB headquarters after Serleena locked it down, the headlines state that Satan has returned to Earth. In the original comic of the Men In Black, besides tracking aliens, the MIB also tracked down demons and supernatural entities.
Naïve Newcomer: K, when J tries to bring him back. J gets exasperated when he keeps poking everything.
Never Live It Down: in-universe, Jay has gotten a reputation of neuralyzing people on a whim, and Zed won't stop chastising him for it.
When J was attempting to establish a channel with Frank during their chase by Serenna, Frank the Pug is saying to the Worms with a cigar in his mouth "So I said 'Listen, bitch! If you don't want me to kick your skinny, zone-diet ass, I suggest you turn tail and leave the planet!'"
Red Herring: J (and the viewer) are led to believe that the Light of Zartha was Laura's watch. Actually, the watch was a time bomb activated to blow up with enough explosive power to destroy the planet (presumably as a means to avoid the villain from gaining it on Earth). The real Light of Zartha was actually Laura herself.
Rule of Perception: The ropey alien disguises are supposedly Invisible to Normals, but MIBs are fully able to spot them. Lampshaded in this movie when freshly-deneuralysed K starts seeing them for himself. We see even more in the third movie.
Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Arguably averted. Serleena at one point asks for a spacecraft that can travel 300 times the speed of light. To put it into perspective, this speed would get you to Proxima Centauri, our nearest star, in 5.13 days. Still hardly the instant travel across the universe we always see in sci-fi, but at least the writers made an effort.
Sequel Non-Entity: Laurel gets mentioned once just to "explain" why she isn't with them.
Sequel Reset: The first movie ended with K happily retired, all MIB memories erased and given a chance to start things over with the love of his life. J, meanwhile, became K's replacement and got a new partner of his own in Agent L. The sequel drops L (her absence is merely Hand Waved) and brings back the amnesic K. Thing is, once his memories are restored, the same character dynamic from the first movie (despite J having five years of experience) is repeated.
Sexy Coat Flashing: Serleena really wants to become an underwear model (but not before infesting MIB headquarters).
Shout-Out: In the aforementioned beatboxing scene, the second of Agent J's beatboxes is from La Di Da Di by Slick Rick.
Starfish Language: J communicates with an alien played by Biz Markie with beat-boxing.
Summon Bigger Fish: While being chased by Serleena, J leads her into the subway tunnels and straight to Jeffrey, who swallows her whole. It only works temporarily.
The Napoleon: Serleena, technically, given her true form is a little worm.
30-Second Blackout: When J has to use Jeeb's illegal deneuralyzer to make K remember, a big part of NYC has a blackout because of it.
Toilet Humour: The deneuralyzer room in the Mi B HQ in film 2 is shaped like a toilet bowl. When Serleena attacks Mi B HQ, they are literally "flushed out".
Unstoppable Rage: After J's new recruit foolishly tried to pull on Jeffrey (the Subway Worm's) flower, to put it simply, it was extremely P.O.'ed, and started lashing out at everything, including J, and then rampaging across the Subway tunnels. He eventually calms down after J attempts to threaten to blast it if it doesn't calm down, and presumably also due to the tranquilizer that he injected earlier finally going into effect after the slight delay.
Weaponized Landmark: The Statue of Liberty. Sort of. It's actually a giant neuralyzer in the torch.
Also a nod to the animated series episode "The Fmall, Fmall, Fmall World Syndrome", which showed the Empire State Building has a neuralyzer, dubbed "the Big One", built into the lightning rod.
What Does This Button Do?: In the original, K's car has the little red button. In this one, J's car has two - one that turns it into a jet, the other deploys a dummy to look like the car is being driven by someone. Used to hilarious effect twice:
K: That come standard? J: Well, it came with a black dude, but he kept gettin' pulled over.
You Were Trying Too Hard: At the pizzeria, when J realizes the photograph is pointing at something, which seems to be another photo pointing at something, which was ultimately... a cabinet full of sardines. K, however, sees the first photo is pointing at a key hanging from the wall.
K: I hope I'm not slowing you down, partner...
Zeerust: Jeebs' de-neuralyzer is distinctly less advanced than what was previously shown.
Wu, the Chinese restaurant owning alien got an action figure despite five minutes of screentime and is killed in the prologue.
Age Lift / Continuity Snarl: In the first movie, K deletes J' data, which shows a 1975 birth date. In the third movie, he finds a young James Edwards in 1969. To make it worse, Will Smith was born in '68.
Asian Speekee Engrish: Exploited by Wu who is an alien disguised as a Chinese restaurant owner who does this to appease the tourists. He drops the act when K and J don't play along.
J: Save the chop socky shit for the tourists, alright, Wu?
Bad to the Last Drop: A running gag has Agent K lamenting every morning that "This coffee tastes like dirt", to which Agent J (in the present) or Agent O (in the past) would reply, "It should, it was just ground this morning." (This joke clues O in on the fact that J actually knew K, after K was killed in the past by Boris the Animal.)
Bavarian Fire Drill: The newly arrived J acquires a car in 1969 by letting its owner assume that the black man in a suit must be the hotel's valet.
Blessed with Suck: Griffin's future sight. At one point he shows J and K the Mets winning the 1969 World Series three months before it happens. J says it's incredible; Griffin replies that it's a pain in the ass due to him not only having to juggle constantly seeing a multitude of possible futures with no clue as to which one is the one that's going to occur, but also seeing those futures long before they are anywhere near relevant in the first place. (though he does still enjoy it to some extent).
Possibly with Agent J being pulled over in 1969 simply because he was black (he had stolen a car but the cops didn't know that). In Men in Black II, J remarks that the inflatable autopilot agent in the car used to be a black guy, but he kept getting pulled over.
"Man, what happened to you?"
Broken Aesop: Played for laughs with the cops that pull J over in 1969.
J: Just because you see a black man driving a nice car does not mean it's stolen! [Beat] A'ight, I stole this one, but not because I'm black!
Butterfly of Doom: Griffin is constantly referring to those. The trope is actually lampshaded when he is really worried upon seeing a butterfly...and with good reason, because in the timeline in which the butterflies appear Boris enters and begins shooting from the window, not the door.
The reason K has always been such a curmudgeonly old guy is because he witnessed J's father sacrificing himself to save K from Boris back in 1969, which ended up with him somewhat becoming a surrogate to J.
The movie also added to why he selected J to be an MIB candidate in the first place since he kept an eye on him since then.
Close Enough Timeline: Boris' initial change (killing K) seemed to keep things the same enough for J to have become an agent in the first place. And despite J's involvement in the past it's implied minor things were also different but still "close enough." To the movie's credit, when J and 1960's K are together J makes a point of trying to keep K going along on the detective path he took in the original timeline rather than skipping to everything ahead of time due to J's future knowledge (which was minimal since he glanced over the case report in the first place).
While he doesn't appear in the film, Frank is referenced twice. Over J's bed, a huge portrait of a pug is hung, and a sideshow poster on Coney Island references the "amazing talking dog" - a pug.
Jack Jeebs (or someone who looks a lot like him) is the guy in the newspaper stand in front of the Chrysler Building in 1969 (it's a blink-and-you-miss-it thing).
Agent K is back living in the apartment that he used to have prior to Men in Black II.
The Colonel says "that's some next-level stuff" as the Arknet Shield is deployed. J said "there's some next-level shit" when getting on the elevator as he returned to officially join up in the first film.
The cafe K and J go to is the same one J took T and Laura to in the second film.
Hey, K, have you ever flashy-thinged me?
Using "Eye exam" as a euphemism for neuralization.
The worms leaving Earth when an alien invasion is about to occur.
J climbing on top of a car to shoot an escaping alien and ending up in a pile of trash.
The younger Boris dies exactly the same way as Mikey from the first movie, sound effect and everything.
Creator Cameo: Director Barry Sonnenfeld appears as one of the people watching the rocket launch.
Darker and Edgier: The third movie. It includes a much darker villain than any from the first two, and partly as a result of this the heroes face tougher moral dilemmas and more emotionally overwhelming circumstances than before.
Disney Villain Death: Subverted by both versions of Boris. Future Boris survives getting pushed off a great height, but he is burned alive by the rocket as it takes off. Past Boris falls after his arm is blown off, but he gets blown up by K.
Eureka Moment: J figures out where Griffin is by hearing two diner patrons talk about the Mets. This is K's intent, deliberately invoking this by interrupting the case to get pie and getting their minds off the case.
Flanderization: In the original movie, K is a rather stoic individual who takes his job seriously, but approaches everything with a calm demeanor, contrasting J who doesn't take the job seriously, but overreacts to everything. By this movie, K is so stoic, he is unable to crack a joke or a smile up until the ending.
The Fun in Funeral: K's tribute to Zed consists of two phrases with no emotion at all. Agent O (Emma Thompson) imitates a tearful female alien spewing high-pitched gibberish.
The prison guards in the opening scene. Someone brings a cake into a prison and you don't think to check it beyond a cursory scan? Not to forget leaving massive guns in the same area of a prison some of the worst inmates are kept in and not shooting Boris, despite him having a gun that can punch a hole in the hull of the lunar prison.
Boris is utterly sure he will be victorious, even despite his future self coming back to tell him that he wasn't.
Historical In-Joke: Undercover agent Andy Warhol desperately needs a transfer. He's so low on ideas he's been reduced to painting bananas and soup cans!
Horde of Alien Locusts: The Boglodites. Their species can only survive by conquest, they wipe out entire species as they move through the galaxy, and if they can't move on to a new species, they will die out.
I Hate Past Me: Boris. He sees in his past self all the mistakes that led to losing his arm and ending up The Last of His Kind. The loathing is mutual, though, as Young Boris sees in his future self all the failures that he hasn't suffered yet.
Laser-Guided Amnesia: Two prototypes of the Neuralyzer exist in 1969: the giant one that J is locked into, and a smaller one with a battery attached to K's belt (which for some reason has a dial-up modem). Also if you listen carefully, the "modem" makes an AOL chime.
Meaningful Background Event: In the scene where J tries to get a time machine, take a close look at the television screens, which play news reports showing the Alien Invasion underway in different parts of the world. It just takes a bit of time before said aliens actually reach New York.
Also, watch closely as J looks around 1969 MIB for the first time, and you'll see Griffin walking around in the foreground.
Monster Fangirl: In the opening, Boris the Animal escapes from his Lunar Prison when his prison mail girlfriend brings him a cake containing his lethal symbiont. The kill-crazy alien monster thanks her for her aid to him, but lets her be sucked out into space without remorse and goes back to trying to destroy Earth.
The plot resembles the MIB animated series episode "The Head Trip Syndrome" which was about a human bigot who hated Aliens and uses a time machine to kill off the founding members of MIB. The difference for the film is that the villain is an alien who wanted to travel back in time to kill K.
Both also involve K in an important event in history. In the TV show episode, K was there when the first aliens landed and presented them flowers (originally meant for a date) as a welcome gift (this actually was a callback to the first movie when K mentions the MIB origins). In this movie, he was responsible for sending a defense network out into space around Earth to keep alien invasions from happening by planting it on the Apollo 11 launch. This is part of the reason Boris wants him dead (though the majority of his motive is revenge).
Boris is also similar to Agent Alpha, a Psycho Prototype who K knew in the past, fired spikes, and required Jay's help to take him down.
A Chase Scene begins with a shot of the New York Pavilion's metal globe that was destroyed by the Bug's ship in the first film.
Newspaper Dating: The attempt at newspaper dating doesn't work because the guy in the elevator keeps shifting the date on the paper out of J's line of sight. J finally just asks him What Year Is It?.
Plot Hole: In this case, Characters ignoring or avoiding obvious solutions to their problems. With the organization being a space-oriented organization in a universe with Casual Interstellar Travel, many viewers scratched their heads at having to put the MacGuffin on Apollo 11 specifically. Reasons can be justified and finagled out through Wild Mass Guessing, and even some potential Fridge Brilliance, but the fact that this alternative is never brought up in dialogue at all despite the fact that Agent J has been saying "what about this or that" every two minutes so far is a minor plot hole.
Politically Correct History: Averted. J is warned before jumping back in time that "it wasn't the best time for your people," and is later pulled over simply due to being a black man driving a nice car. Then again, the NASA launch site is commanded by a black dude. MIB was also less alien-friendly in those days.
Remember the New Guy: O in never appeared in the first two films but apparently had been working at MIB for at least as long as K had.
Retcon: In the first film they portrayed K as a man holding out for The One That Got Away. In this film they have him flirting with O every time they are together.
It does reinforce the theory that he had a love child with the queen of Zartha. and justifies why he was holding out for the first girl, because he neuralyzed himself to protect the Light of Zartha.
Also considering the second film where he separated from his wife during his temporary retirement, he might have moved on.
Rubber-Forehead Aliens: MIB headquarters in 1969 is populated by aliens that are accurate to late 60's scifi portrayals. Including Human Aliens wearing space suits that look like they came from sci-fi movies about the future.
Save Scumming: J time travels one minute backwards after memorizing Boris' attack pattern. Though pay attention when Boris went back in time that minute as well. The first attacks are Left-Right-Left, the Second are Right-Left-Left. This makes for a bit of Fridge Logic as to how J dodged perfectly the second time.
Interestingly enough, along with J fixing the direct problem, future Boris and J also help fix something else by accident. Because of future Boris, K has a legit reason to shoot him instead of arresting him. Likewise, meeting future J means K knows the boy will develop right, lessening the guilt of not having been able to save his father. Both changes cause K to be less grumpy and more friendly, somewhat.
Stable Time Loop: The time travel plot was always supposed to happen. It results in J's father not being there while he was growing up, K becoming The Stoic (and looking after J throughout his life), and J having Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory. Some things are changed around.
The Stoic: K. He has never been so stoic, and there's a good reason for that.
Stylistic Suck: The aliens in MIB headquarters in 1969 are all obviously suited actors, in contrast to the puppetry and CGI aliens of the present. What makes it this trope is that they're Rubber-Forehead Aliens that look like the stereotypical depictions of aliens from those times.
Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Zed, whose death happens offscreen. The film opens with J and K discussing what K will say at his funeral. Though oddly he does not make an appearance when J goes back in time when they had a perfect opportunity to use him but not deal with the troubled Rip Torn.
Suspiciously Specific Denial: When Agent J returns to 2012, and does a Calling the Old Man Out routine on K and O's relationship in 1969, Agent K cites an MIB no-fraternization rule between agents. But he never actually denies J's claim, and J doesn't believe K's deflection anyway.
Technology Marches On: invoked The movie has a lot of fun with this, as the 1960's MIB gear is still advanced but looks like what the 1960's thought future technology would look like. 60's K pulls out his communicator that looks like an infamous 80's "brick" cell phone with chrome plating. The reliable neuralizer is the size of a room, with a pocket sized version that requires a connected belt battery and manual tuner. And this was before the creation of the Big Red Button so J and K needed to actually strap on some rocket packs to race to the climax.
Terminator Twosome: Boris is the history-changer, J is the history-preserver. Interesting in that the pursuer actually arrives before the quarry.
This Cannot Be!: When J dodges Boris' darts and throws him off the top of the launch gantry, Boris shouts "That's not possible!"
J was present at K's death in the alternate 1969 but remembers the original timeline's K, because alternate!J doesn't exist due to regular J's immunity to the timeline change. O explains this shortly before J goes back in time.
Jeffrey remembers sending Boris back in time, because for him it seems nothing that changed in the past changed his life up until the moment J walked into his shop.
When J time jumps with Boris, there isn't a past!J and Boris because Boris did not travel back in time fully, but J did as the time device is single-person only.
Poor Griffin lives in one inside his head. He seems to enjoy it at times, but knowing how every moment in existence could go horribly wrong in infinite ways obviously wears on his nerves.
The reason why the invasion didn't occur sometime in 1969 instead of the morning of the change despite being mentioned repeatedly that the race is extinct for 40 years because when J goes back in time and asks O about K, he is told that Boris escapes to his planet 20 light-years away. So it took a 40 year round-trip to go back to his planet and come back to invade with an army.
Happens with the aliens in the bowling alley - when one doesn't talk, J uses his head for a ball.
Also done by 1969 K to J when they first meet, due to J's cover story sucking. K puts J in a EEG-machine styled neuralizer, and J spills what he knows, causing K to abort the neuralization.
Under the Truck: Twice during the bike chase, first by J on his wheel-bike (which survives), and later by Boris on a conventional motorcycle (which gets trashed).
Ungrateful Bastard: Boris' poor penpal girl goes through all the trouble to sneak an ...alien thing... in to help him to escape. He repays it by letting her fly out into space. But since young Boris got killed by K this event does not exist anymore.
We Hardly Knew Ye: The girl who helps Boris escape, and the prison inmate who is the father of the store clerk that gives him the time travel device. Although, after 60's Boris' death in 1969, they and anyone killed by Boris after that event should be inserted back into the new timeline.
Jeebs, who is usually the go-to-guy for the latest not-very-legal technology, is nowhere to be seen. A fat man running a toy store replaces him, though as the tech that sends J back is human, it makes a bit more sense.
Frank's nowhere to be seen, aside from a couple of references (a picture of him hanging on Jay's wall, and a sign advertising the Amazing Talking Pug at Coney Island). Frank's actor died, necessitating his disappearance.
What the Hell, Hero?: K has a brief moment of this when he punches J in the face twice for "lying and then telling the truth". The latter was only trying to help after all.
You Didn't See That: When K climbs over the command module, one of the astronauts points out that if they report it the launch would be scrubbed. All deny seeing anything.
You Killed My Father: It is revealed very late into the movie that Boris is the reason why J's father never saw him grow up. However, J never actually finds out until after 60s-era Boris does the deed and dies by K's hand and J finds his father dead, and likewise, J didn't remember until then because K neuralized him.
Zeerust: Done deliberately with the MIB headquarters in 1969.