Action and sci-fi films are filled with cool-looking jobs that we would die to have. Who among us wouldn't push down a small child for a chance to be a Jedi or a James Bond-esque secret agent? But they require a lifetime of grueling training, beyond even what we see in the montages. Hell, even Harry Potter had to spend six years in wizard school.
Fortunately, if you lack the drive and dedication for that kind of career, there are other equally awesome fictional jobs that apparently just take a few days to learn.
5MIB Agent in Men in Black
The Men in Black are the best-kept secret on the planet. They're here to monitor alien life on Earth, make awesome quips and shoot elaborate weapons at ridiculously designed monsters. Best of all, if they ever slip up, they get to erase the memory of anyone who might have noticed.
"You wouldn't believe how often this gets us laid."
So in the film, NYPD officer James Edwards (Will Smith) is recruited to be one of the MIB after he impressively chases an alien on foot for a couple blocks. He is recruited into a class along with other candidates from the Marines, the Navy Seals and the Air Force, all chosen because they are "the best of the best." And Will Smith gets a shot because he can run fast for short distances.
"He passes the 'have a beer' test. Let's promote him to the World-Saving Department."
But, in a "it's so crazy it just might work" moment, Edwards does get the job and becomes Agent J. Well, all right, the MIB are clearly an "outside-the-box thinking" type of organization, so maybe they spotted some innate talent in him that could be cultivated with the right training. So, he gets the job.
"I like the way you shoot children."
So What's the Problem?
From that point on in the movie, they don't teach him jack shit.
Sure, they tell him aliens exist and give him the background on the MIB in the form of a quick tour, but from the moment that J puts on the suit, K (Tommy Lee Jones) throws him into the job headfirst and just expects him to catch up or ... uh, die, we guess?
"You know what totally wouldn't result in dozens of civilian casualties? Giving an inexperienced rookie a powerful and wildly inaccurate weapon and then not telling him."
Agent J is left to figure out how to use an impractically reckless gun and how to fight a giant cockroach unarmed (and other tasks that turn out to be equally dangerous, like delivering a predatory alien baby). Any one of those tasks alone would be difficult for an expert, and J has to stumble through it without so much as a company handbook.
"You're making coffee next."
Keep in mind, it's not like the Men in Black are some ragtag crew who are trying to figure it out as they go along. It's an enormously wealthy organization with lavish facilities and lots of staff. It has been around for decades. It's the "only line of defense against the worst scum of the universe."
And yet, there he stands.
We guess you could say that the reason Smith was partnered with Tommy Lee Jones' character is that this is how they do on-the-job training at MIB, but at the end of the movie, J gets to assume that role as the lead partner doing the training. He even gets to pick his own trainee partner, and naturally, he picks the cute lady from the morgue. What about that whole "best of the best of the best" thing? We didn't see any deleted scenes of her chasing down an alien on foot. Where did all the standards of hiring go in the course of the film?
"No, there's no manual for that thing. Just point and hope."
That can't possibly be an effective staffing model.
4Astronaut in Armageddon
There is an asteroid the size of Texas headed straight toward Earth that threatens to wipe out every living thing. NASA has a plan, though: Their team of astronauts will land on the asteroid, drill a hole in the middle and blow it up with a nuclear bomb. NASA knows space, but they don't know drilling, so they seek the advice of the best driller on Earth, Bruce Willis. And that's where things fall apart.
And this is where the movie itself falls apart.
Bruce Willis takes one look at the team of astronauts who have been training on the drilling equipment for five months and decides they're all terrible. He insists that his own team of drillers be allowed to do the job instead and NASA, that pragmatic, rational institution of geniuses, agrees. Now it's time for a crash course in astronaut training for these roughnecks, as the asteroid is just days away.
NASA: We'll pretty much try anything.
So What's the Problem?
We understand that the whole thing was just the writers' excuse to get Bruce Willis and his motley crew of misfits into space. But try to follow the logic here: They replace seven men who have years of astronaut training and months of drilling experience with seven guys who have years of drilling experience but just a few days of astronaut training. The only possible reason they would even consider that is if it were easier to be an astronaut than an oil driller.
"He's got the right stuff. I can feel it."
They turn out to be right. While things go wrong almost from the start, it's the roughnecks who can improvise and find solutions while the astronauts just yell a lot and die. Adding insult to injury, the one Russian cosmonaut who ends up on the shuttle knows how to fix technical problems on an American ship better than any of the American astronauts.
For whatever reason, NASA doesn't train its people to beat the equipment with wrenches.
The only real screw-up on the part of the drilling team is so absurd and out of place that it feels like the writers tacked it on to show that it wasn't just astronauts fucking up right and left. Steve Buscemi, the one man on the drilling team who has Ph.D.s and can solve a Rubik's Cube, gets a made-up disorder called space dementia. He fires a machine gun at everybody and destroys all the pertinent equipment. So the big question hanging over the plot like a, well, like an asteroid is: Why wasn't anybody trained on space madness when it's that big of an issue? And more importantly, why did NASA give this group of pretend astronauts a giant gun?
"We need these for SPACE!"