This is It is SO. GOOD. If you like music at all you need to go see it! It’s like going to rock and roll church. Seriously.
I had reservations going in that it might be a movie to just make a quick buck and capitalize on what rehearsal footage was left after Michael Jackson’s death. It wasn’t like that at all. It was stripped away of anything except the process of putting on this show, which would really have been an amazing spectacle had it come to fruition. Not just the music and dancing but the elaborate sets, 3D, video, etc. It would have been a SHOW. There is a big production built around every song, much like you’d see in a Broadway musical. A lot of his hits are showcased here, sometimes put together from different rehearsals. They re-shot a Thriller video and have a graveyard on stage with ghosts flying over the audience. There’s a 70’s style production for Jackson 5 songs. At one point there’s a giant robot that MJ pops out of. They spared no expense. You can feel the excitement of the all the people who are working together to help create this event that they feel is the pinnacle of their careers. I loved watching the musicians and dancers from all around the world who came just to audition, and the excitement when they get the job (it’s a tad American Idol-ish at first). The movie isn’t just about Jackson, it’s about all these people and their dreams that never get totally realized. The man who put the film together is the same guy who was producing the show, and he does such a good job in a short period of time (he edited from 500 hours of footage). It’s a labor of love for him, and he nails it. It is a good substitute for the comeback Jackson wanted.
The film humanizes Michael Jackson and shows him like we haven’t really seen him. The personal life and all it’s weirdness is left out. It’s the pop star MJ people have always loved, and he’s really in his element. It isn’t clever editing, it’s obvious from everyone’s interactions with him that he is a simple, caring and hardworking human at the core. It’s downright awe-inspiring watching him dance (at 50 years old!). His voice still has such range, and he’s got such a good ear for the tiniest of details. He is a perfectionist and pushes everyone around him to be better. At the same time, he’s so sweet and humble and appreciative. He is not too big to share the stage and to give people their moment to shine. He even encourages it. It makes me so sad when I think about all the people who suck who live on while he is dead, life’s so unfair that way. He seems so carefree in the film too, like when he rides on a cherrypicker and the producer just about falls apart with worry because he won’t hang on to the railing. “I’m not worried about anything.” he said.
There are some real thoughtful moments in this film, the most moving I think is the production of The Earth Song. It’s a song about how the earth is being destroyed, and Jackson talks about how we have to take it upon ourselves to save the planet, and not rely on governments or someone else to do something. The images are heartbreaking. They were to me at least, and it drove me to tears. I was embarrassed in that theater, because I can’t even watch that commercial at home with Noah Wylie talking about polar bears without tearing up. I turn the channel. So I’m trying to think of something else, and then I heard these two burly men sitting behind me sniffle. They were crying too! So did my mom, who came with me. “It’s so sad because it’s real,” she said later. Yes it is.
His death is real too. It must have been devastating for everyone who worked on this to hear he had died, I can’t imagine. The love that every worker seems to have for Jackson and the show is genuine. Likewise, Jackson was ready to prove himself with this comeback. I’m glad for them they released this movie. It really was fabulous. Looking on the bright side, I think in some ways, this was better than what a straight concert would have been. I love behind-the-scenes stuff, and I don’t know how much of that we would have seen if he had lived on.
I noticed the name Lou Ferrigno in the credits as a personal trainer for Michael Jackson. The Hulk! The Hulk was MJ’s trainer! I looked it up and sure enough. I like this quote from Lou: “He heard I was in the running to do ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ so he said that he would teach me the Moonwalk if I did the show. We had a lot of fun.” I’d love to see the Hulk moonwalk.