The Internet TESL Journal

Teacher's Notes for the Movie "Men in Black"

Letitia Bradley

Scene 1. The border control stops the car.

To cover the use of various idioms and phrases in the first scene, study these questions before watching the movie.
What term is used for the fish someone has caught?
Their catch.
What idiom do we use, to talk about the fish that are put back into the water after they are caught?
To throw them back.
What slang words do you know for a US dollar ($)?
Bucks and greenbacks.
What does the counter "a head" mean?
Per person.
What do you think I.N.S means?
A). Insurance, B). Inspector, C). Immigration and Naturalization Service
The answer is C.
What do you think "to have your money on" means?
Who are you betting it is.? Who do you think it is?
If somebody breaks your face is it a good, nice thing to happen?
No, that is why it is strange that the big illegal immigrant laughs.
Is a "figment of your imagination" something real or is it something only in your mind?
Only in your mind.
If a person is easily fooled or cheated what adjective do we use to describe them?

Some General Observation Questions about the First Scene.

How many people in the back of the truck are wearing hats?
What is written on the police-like cars?
Border Patrol.
What is the drivers name?
Nick (The Dick).
What is behind the drivers ear?
A cigarette.
When the M.I.B. drive up and get out of the car, what division do they say they are from?
I.N.S Division Six.
What is the older M.I.B. called?
How many treaties did Mikey violate?
What colour are Mikey's entrails?
What colour is the eye of the neuralyzer?
After K has used the neuralyzer, can the border guards remember anything?
The older M.I.B. said that he will "miss the chase" but the other agent, K, said "no you won't". Why won't D miss the chase?
He won't remember anything about his job or who he was in his life at M.I.B.

Scene 2. A policeman is chasing someone.

The next scene, has an officer chasing after a suspect, we see four people of which three are important to the scene. As you watch listen and see who says what, label the speech (1), (2), (3).
Freeze means stop.
All yours Edwards.
What the hell?
It just be raining black people in New York.
Do you see this, Huh?
N.Y.P.D. means I will Knock Your Punk Ass Down!
He's coming. He's coming.
Yeah and when he gets here I will arrest his ass too!
You trying to catch a beat down huh?

Some Observation Question for this Scene

How did the suspect get away when Edwards caught him up against the wall?
He runs up the wall and does a back flip off it.
What does Edwards land on when he follows the suspect by jumping off the bridge?
He lands on the top deck of a bus.
How did the suspect get up the building?
He ran up the side.
How did the police officer get inside?
He shot a hole in the glass door and climbed in.
How many doors does the suspect try to open?
What did the officer say about the suspects eyes before he jumps?
We can get these eyes fixed.

Scene 3. At the Farm.

Before you watch the next scene, match up the quotes on the left with the explanations on the right.
1. skulk around         a. If  what  I  say  isn't  true God will
                           punish me.
2. pulls it's weight    b.To move with the intention of not
                          being seen.
3. like poison          c. Hasn't
4. on the table         d. food served at dinner
5. work my butt off     e. To do your full share of work.
6. swear to God         f. Doesn't look very good.
7. ain't                g. To work hard.
Answers (b, e, f, d, g, a, c,)

Scene 5. The policeman is being debriefed.

In this next scene we meet the two police officers again. The fat officer who gave up the chase and Edwards are in a room with their chief.

Listen and number the following lines in the order they are said.

After, Sir."
"You mean blinked with both eyes."
"You know, like high beams and low beams."
"and why is it that none of the other officers saw either of these two events."
"I am half the man that you are."
"Take 10 minutes on a stair master you Pudgy bastard."
"The perpetrator then blinked two sets of eyelids."
"Was that before or after he drew the weapon, that you claim evaporated into a million pieces.
"Hey what is your problem?"
"Some of the other officers are soggy around the midsection. I guess that's why they weren't able to keep up."
"I think he threw him off the roof."
"10 minutes, You take your best shot tough guy"
"No, Sir."
"He blinked one set then he blinked a completely different set."
"Edwards if you were half the man I am...."
"My problem is you being all up in my damn face."
"I want to talk to you."
Stop the tape at the end of this conversation and go through the following questions to clarify any vocabulary the student might need. This will then lead into the next scene.

Scene 5a. Two other people came to talk to the policeman.

In this scene K fixes everything so that everbody who has come into contact with the ceph' alien has their mind wiped.

Some possible words and phrases to explain.

Then watch the movie and check if students understood using these questions.
If you are the deputy, are you the boss?
No. (Refers to the fact that the woman is the deupty medical examiner.
What do you find at the morgue?
Dead bodies.
What does on 26th mean?
It is the name of the street that the morgue is on.
If there is a body with no identity, what name it is given?
John Doe for male and Jane Doe for female.
What office is in charge of such places?
The coroner's office.
What does a fish use to breathe?
What is paperwork?
The reports that have to be written up explaining what has happened.
"I've got tons of. " is a figure of speech. What does it mean?
A lot of. A large amount of.

Scene 6. At the pawnbrokers.

The two guys go to a pawn brokers shop. Edwards knows the place and is still very sure of himself. He tells Kay that he will deal with the situation.
Who goes into the shop first?
The policeman.
What is on the counter?
A lamp, a newspaper and a tray of Rolex watches.
What does the man in black (K) say he will count to?
How does the Alien make the guns appear?
He presses a button.
Edwards has just seen his second alien and is standing outside the pawn shop. He doesn't remember the first one and he is very confused, It is impossible for him to understand so Kay zaps him with the neuralyzer.

Kay wants to get to know the young officer a bit more. This leads to the next scene.

Scene 7. At the restaurant.

Explain the new words which are on the vocabulary list.

Watch the scene two or three times and answer the following questions.

Where does she set "it" back down?
In her lap.
What is "it" eating?
Her popcorn.
What did K and officer Edwards have to eat?
Egg rolls.
What name does K call Officer Edwards?
What drink has Edwards been having?
What time should they meet?
Watch the scene one more time and get the students to answer the following observation questions.
How many bottles do we see on the table in front of Officer Edwards?
What does K give to Officer Edwards?
His calling card (business card).
What is the number of the place Edwards has to go to?
504 Battery Drive 504 Battery drive.

Scene 8 Back at the farm.

We go back to the ranch for a short time and see a pest controller arrive to take care of the cockroachs in the barn. The bug is angry when he sees the man, killing his brothers and sisters. The bug needs wheels and doesn't like the pest controller and so he kills two birds with one stone..
What is the man with the tank on his back going to do?
Kill the cockroaches and bugs in the barn.
What does the alien do to the man?
He kills him by sticking the nozzle down his throat.
What does the alien do with his spaceship?
He rolls it up a plank into the back of the truck.

Scene 9. 504 Battery Drive.

Edwards arrives at the address on the back of the card. He goes into the elevator and ends up in a room full of other men. They are all military men who have been taught strict discipline. They can't think for themselves, they don't ask questions and they only follow orders. They are all going to be given an exam,

Watch the scene and then answer the following questions.


What is the guy in the suit called?
Why are they all there?
To take the test.
How many are they looking for?
Only one.
What is West point?
The name of a militaty school.
In the shooting scene, did Edwards kill any monsters?
Who did he shoot?
A little girl.
What was the (guy) monster hanging from the light doing?
Working out.
What about the snarling beast guy, what was he really doing?
How old is little Tiffany?
About eight years old.
How many Quantum physics books is she carrying?
What is strange about the books she is carrying?
They are much too difficult for her.
What is the last test that they have to administer?
An eye test.
Explain that Zed and K have decided that Edwards is good enough to become a M.I.B. K takes him aside and as they walk they talk.

Scene 10. Walking K explains to Edwards.

After the test.

Students try to rewrite K's explanation into easy English.

This is a possible answer.

In the 1950's, a small unimportant agency was started by the government. This agency was to try to contact aliens. The first contact was made by the aliens on March 2nd, 1961 near New York. Nine people met the aliens. There were seven agents, one astronomer and a yound man who was there by accident. The aliends were all refugees. They didn't have anywhere to live and wanted to use the earth as a place where other refugees could come and live. This idea was accepted and the evidence of the alien landing was hidden and kept secret. Every year, more and more aliens come to live peacefully and secretly on the earth.

Then watch the scene again and ask the following comprehension questions.

What do you think?

Does Edwards believe K's story?
No, he keeps being sarcastic.
Who do you think "The Dumb kid who got lost.."was?
Why do you think the kid brought the tall man flowers?
He didn't buy anything. The flowers were for somebody else.
How did they conceal all evidence of the landing?
They held a World's Fair (Expo).
Why does Edwards think that K needs a CAT scan?
He thinks that he is crazy.
Does K like decaf coffee?

Scene 12. Sitting in the park.

Edwards now has seen the coffee spilling aliens so he knows that all that K has told him is true. In the next scene we see K and Edwards sitting in Battery Park.. K is explaining more.

K walks away and Edwards is left alone to decide if he wants to be a M.I.B. Agent. He has until the next day to decide.

Meanwhile we see the bug and his van, complete with the flying saucer in the back, arrive in New York city.

Next morning Edwards goes back to Battery Drive to become an M.I.B.

Scene 13. Back at 504 Battery Drive.

Edwards is still really full of himself and tells K that they should remember that they chose him. But K tells him that those skills he learnt in the outside world are of no use here.

They go down into the arrivals area and we see many different aliens arriving. K explains where the agency gets its funding from.

We meet the twins who control, and monitor all the alien activity on Earth and we see some of the aliens.

Edwards also remembers when he was at school that he thought his teacher then was an alien. He find out that he was right.

Some questions.

What evidence of his existence is deleted?
His finderprints are erased, driving license, social security number, and birth certificate are all deleted.
What rules does he have to follow?
Dress only in attire specially sanctioned, conform to the identity we give you, eat where we tell you and live where we tell you.
How does he fit into the system?
He is no longer part of it. He is above the system, over it and beyond it.

The next scene we see is the bug driving up outside an antique shop, the bug is having difficulty moving now, the body is getting stiff.

We don't know who the man is but he has a cat with him that he seems to love very much.

The bug follows him. . . . .

Meanwhile back at the M.I.B. office, K and J are being briefed about the last 24 hours.

Scene 14. (After we see the Edgar alien) J and K are being briefed.

As you listen and watch, answer the following questions.
Who is Bee going to meet?
The deposed Sur Prefect of Singalee
What was the red letter about?
An unauthorized landing somewhere in upstate New York.
What is a "skimmer"?
A landed alien out of zone.
Where is redglick stuck?
On the New Jersey turnpike.
A keg is a big barrel of beer, What do you think to host a kegger means?
To have a beer party.
Zed knows that J doesn't like being called names like "son" or "sport" but he calls him two different names to annoy him what are they?
Tiger and Junior.
What kind of car do they drive?
Ford Pos.
What does J think that K has to work on?
His people skills.

Scene 15. At the restaurant.

The next scene starts with a yellow cab arriving outside a greasy spoon restaurant.

Directions to the students:

Watch this scene, write down any words that you don't know then write 10 questions about the scene itself.

Scene 16. On the New Jersey Turnpike.

K is puzzled. He doesn't understand why someone would take the risk of flying large distances at high speeds with a new born baby. He knows that there was a "crasher" last night and so he wonders if the two events are connected. He needs more information. So he goes to get the "hot sheets".

Scene 17. At the newspaper seller's..

What other newspaper is mentioned?
The New York Times.
How many does he buy?
What does the head line say on the paper he throws on to the car?
Alien stole my husband's skin.

Scene 18. The M.I.B. go to the farm.

The two heroes go to the farm J, the policeman, rushes up but K, the one who is the old hand at this tells him to slow down. The farmers wife, Beatrice now looks different.

Watch this scene, and then watch the scene when we first meet her.

Write down 3 ways that she is different.
1. She is dressed. 2. She is wearing make up. 3. Her hair is washed and brushed.

Watch the scene again and answer the following questions.

What doesn't the FBI have?
A sense of humour.
What does she offer them to drink?
Does J like the lemonade?
No. He pulls a face and spits it back into the glass.
What is Edgar holding in the photograph?
A rifle.
What does J tell her to get from the shop called Bloomingdales?
Some dresses and shoes.
What colour does K say "please not............."?

K has checked the soil where the UFO landed and he now knows that it is a bug because no other life form craves sugar water and leaves a green spectral trail. K says that with a bug in town there are going to be a lot of deaths and if there are a lot if deaths then the bodies will be taken to the morgue.

Scene 19. The morgue.

The medical examiner does an autopsy on the bodies from the restaurant, she has three bodies to look at so she is there working into the night. She of course discovers that two of the bodies are not "normal" and she records her findings, using medical jargon, on tape. The M.I.B. arrive and they tell her that they are with the department of public health. K calls themselves, Dr.Leo Manville and Dr. White. She is surprised to them as its so late.

She believes that they are also doctors and J and her start to do another autopsy on the body, again she talks in medical jargon and J doesn't understand but he knows that he likes her.

J can't remember K's made up name and so the real Doctor realizes that they aren't who they say they are, but before that something happens when the ear of the dead body is touched.

Watch the scene and retell what happens.

Scene 20. The bug in his van.

The next scene is the bug in his van. He is trying to open something.
Where did he get it from?
He took it off the table in the restaurant.
What is inside?
What did he think was inside?
The Galaxy

Scene 21. Back at H.Q.

J heard the alien said that The Galaxy was on Orion's belt. Zed, shows J the stars that make up the group known as Orion. There is no room for a galaxy and Zed thinks that he must have misheard. J doesn't agree.

Where is Orion in the sky?
In the northern sky.
How many stars are galaxies made up of?
How does J tell Zed that he disagrees with him?
Whatever, I know what I heard.
Meanwhile K is playing on his computer and he is trying to locate someone. Who do you think it is?
The girl he was going to meet the night the aliens landed.

K is interrupted by J and switches off his computer too quickly, so that J reckons that there is must be a reason... suddenly it all becomes clear to him.

J says "It's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all." What does K answer?
Try it.
Does he agree?
However more important things are happening and Zed calls them over. Now watch the scene without sound. What is happening?
  • All the aliens are leaving.
  • We see various views of the earth.
  • We see a space ship.
  • Zed tells them to do something.
  • Something happens to stop them for a second.
As Zed has ordered, J is given a weapon (the noisy cricket) whereas K has the series 4 de-atomizer. What does J say to show he thinks this situation is unfair?
Nah, Nah, come on man...(You get the series 4de-atomizer and I get the midget cricket.)

In the next scene we meet the bug again but before we do answer the following questions.

If you park illegally in some cities, what can happen to your car?
It can be towed away, clamped or given a ticket.
If you break glass forcefully what verb do we use?
To smash.
What is the name given to the place where stray dogs and cars that have been parked illegally, are taken?
The impound or the ‘pound'.

Scene 22 (After J is given a weapon) At the Jewelry store.

What does the bug see that makes him snort and grunt?
He sees a photo of the cat and it's collar.
What is happening to his car?
It is being towed.
Do you think the tow-truck driver has seen a gun carrying angry driver before?
Yes, because he isn't frightened by the bug and his gun. Also, he has his own gun.
What makes J turn around and see the bug?
He hears a gunshot.
How many times does J shoot at the bug?
Three times.
Every time that J fires his gun a lot of things happen, describe some of them. Because of the recoil action he flies through the air, he shoots the window out, he shoots the bug's truck off of the tow truck, he landed in some rubbish and another time he lands on a car windshield.

J is just a trainee he doesn't have the experience that K has, He is over reacting to the fact that there is a battle cruiser waiting to blow up the earth. K explains that there is always a battle cruiser or a death ray or something..... but they have the bug's ship, he isn't going anywhere.

K has to clean up after the J's firing spree and so he called for a "containment crew" but Zed has news for him.....

An exodus is when a lot of people move from one place to another................

When Zed says " the exodus continues what does he mean?

Not people but aliens are all leaving.

A moot point is a subject that different people might have different ideas about... So why does Zed think that "containment might be a moot point"?

K thinks that they need a crew, but Zed thinks they don't and that they won't be an earth soon.

"It's like the party's over and the last one to leave gets stuck with the check"....What image does this create for you? Does everyone want to pay the check? The image should be one of everybody trying to get out first. Nobody wants to have to pay the bill. No one wants to be the last one.

Describe the aliens.
They are small, walk on their hind legs, have webbed feet, are loud and a bit rowdy
What are they carrying?
One has a statue of liberty souvenir, another has four cartons of cigarettes and the other two have suitcases.
Where have we seen them before?
They are the coffee aliens.
Do you know what placement advertising is?
It is when a company pays to have it's product placed in a film. In this case, Marlboro cigarettes.
Zed also says that the Arquillians are holding "us" responsible. Who are us?
The M.I.B.
What part of the message says so?
It says so on the screen.
And what are they responsible for?
Delivering The Galaxy.
The bug meanwhile is looking for the dead.

Point out the mistake made by the seller and the word you.

What did he take? How many are for a dollar?

Scene 23. The M.I.B. talk to the dog.

Back with the MIB K realizes that they need help, someone who is used to talking between different galaxies, a professional. K says "I hope the little prick hasn't skipped town" He hasn't they go and see him.... Questions to ask.
Which one does J think is the alien?
The gaunt looking man.
What does the alien say to J in response to J's comment on his disguise?
If you don't like it, you can kiss my furry little butt.
What is the dog's name?
Why can't the dog talk now?
His flight is leaving.
What does "Kiss something good bye" mean?
You'll never see it again.
What is the difference between "beats me" and "beat me"?
Beats means I don't know. Beat me means hit me.
What two excuses does J say to passers by when K is shaking the dog?
The dog owes him money and they are practicing for a ventriloquist at.
How small does the dog say The Galaxy is?
Tiny like the size of a marble or a jewel.
What does J see that makes him say "K"?
He sees a cat with a bell on it's collar.

Scene 24. The alien goes to the morgue.

Watch the following scene and then answer these observation questions.
Why does the woman suddenly jump?
The cat lands on her table and surprises her.
What name is on the cat's collar?
What is inside of the pendant on the cat's collar?
The Galaxy.
The bug enters.
What is the bug carrying?
His gun.
How does he get the desk clerk's attention?
He rings the bell.
What does the bug tell him not to do?
Do that. (Kill the bugs on the counter with a fly swat.

Scene 25. K and J arrive.

Answer the following questions.
  1. To "handle this" means to
    a). to talk about.. b). to be in charge of .... c). to help...
  2. "It isn't that hard" means
    a). it isn't difficult b). it is still soft
  3. "To wind up with" means to
    a). be talking about the weather b). being with c). to finish with
Answers. 1. b, 2. a, 3. c
Who wants to be in charge of the situation?
How long does K give J before he will come in there?
Two minutes.
What does the bug say that he is looking for?
The animal.
J and the woman start to have a conversation she wants to "go" with him i.e. leave he thinks she is making sexual advances towards him.... Meanwhile K walks in.... The two minutes are nearly up.
The "gas" is another name for the accelerator pedal in a car, what did J say about the "the gas"?
Slow down girl, you don't need to hit the gas like that.
Why does K look up?
Something drops from the ceiling and extinguishes his match.
What does he see?
The desk clerk is stuck to the ceiling.
Watch the following scene and explain what happens after K bursts into the room.

The following are all insults that are thrown about during this scene.
Who (the woman,the bug, K or J) says what?
Who are they insulting when they say it?

The bug tells them to "can it", what is another way to say the same thing?
Shut up, be quiet.

Stop the video and ask the following questions.

How does the bug leave the morgue?
Through the window.
What two things, does he take with him?
The woman and The Galaxy.
How does the bug get away?
In a taxi.
At the end of the scene how does K say the bug isn't leaving the planet?
In a taxi.

The men in black go back to the Headquarters, K is busy giving instructions to make sure the bug can't leave Manhattan, let alone the planet.

Meanwhile the Arquillians give an ultimatum if the M.I.B. can't deliver The Galaxy in 1 hour the Earth will be destroyed, it is better that the Earth is destroyed than the bug have The Galaxy, or so the Arquillians think.

K and Zed discuss all the ways that he could leave, they talk about all the space ships available...some of these are actually famous, but ugly or infamous places, such as mile island...J spots the one way he could leave....

Scene 26. Chasing the bug.

The next scene jumps between the site of the world's fair in Queens and the M.I.B who are trying to get there. Laurel, the woman, tries to get the bug to let her go, she says that she is a very important person on her planet and because she is being taken by the bug it could start a war.
Why does the bug say he is taking the women with him?
It is a long journey and he might need a snack.
Why is J surprised that K is taking the tunnel?
The tunnel is going to be packed. This means there will be many cars in the tunnel.
What button is J told to push?
The little red button.
Who is the singer of the song K plays?
Elvis Presley.
According to K, is the singer dead?
No, he just went home.
Why is the bug happy that a war could start?
More food for his family.
When the guys arrive at Queens, how much longer until the destruction of the Earth?
Seven minutes and 56 seconds.
What number is the Mets baseball player wearing when he doesn't catch the ball?
The M.I.B. shot the space ship and one angry alien comes out. Again there are a lot of insults thrown around, as before:

Who (K,J, or the bug). says what? Who do they say it to?

"You Milk Suckers"
The bug to K and J.
"you don't matter in fact soon you won't even be matter"
The bug to K and J.
"busted ass vehicle"
J to the bug.
"you are nothing but a smear on a newspaper to me"
K to the bug.
"you slimy, gut sucking intestinal parasite"
K to the bug.
"y'all look alike"
J to the Bug.
Watch the scene again, and answer the following observation questions.
When the bug emerges from the "Edgar suit" what is the first thing it does to the M.I.B.?
He takes their guns.
What does K say, that J mustn't let the bug do?
Leave in the second ship.
Where does K say he is going?
To get his gun back.
What is the last part of K that we see before he is swallowed?
The bottom of his shoes.
What does J throw at the bug?
A rock.
How many roaches do we see J step on?
What relation does he think two of them are to the bug?
Auntie and uncle.
Who does K call on his cellular telephone?
Z. To tell him that they have The Galaxy.
Who finally kills the bug?
The woman.

Scene 27. Outside of H.Q..

Who does K say that the flashy thing is for?
For himself.
What four things does K explain about the flashy thing?
Months, Days, years, and always facing forward.

Scene 28. The new J.

In the Newspaper headline, what city has a car that defies gravity?
What does the other paper say about the man who used to be K?
Man awakens from 35 year coma.
Who is J's new partner?
The woman, Laurel.
What kind of seats do they want for the Knicks - Bulls game?
Floor seats.

This is part of Teaching the Movie M. I. B. to ESL Students
The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. IV, No. 6, June 1998