Michael Jackson’s This Is It screened for promotional audiences and most critics on Tuesday night. Depending on where you live that’s either the night it opened or the night before. The turnout — at least in Portland — was rather light.
No one wants to miss Dancing with the Stars I guess.
Fans that did turn out for the promotional screening were a noisy lot. They clapped loudly at the credits, yapped with each other throughout the movie about this song or that and about what Jackson tried to pass off as dance moves.
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As an aside — people when you go to movies remember, a full theater is not your living room. While I’m positive all of your comments are brilliant, original and thought-provoking, no one sitting around you much cares. Some of them may actually want to watch the movie and hear Jackson’s exceptional singing. Oh, and they also don’t want to be blinded by your cell phone screens as you check to see who just called or texted you.
Back to the movie. Some even shed tears at the end of the film. My emotions were a different kind. October is when the studios start rolling out the horror movies full of frightful characters. Having to look at Michael Jackson for two hours is a different kind of horror. It looked like he just received a badly done new Botox lip job. It made him look even more pathetic than usual.
I digress and besides, my mother taught me that it isn’t nice to make fun of people for their looks. I apologize.
View This Is It as a movie and it is an adequate documentary. Since it is more event than movie, a review doesn’t really work. Jackson wades through his biggest hits in a video shot of the rehearsals for 50 concerts he was to do in London between July of this year and March of next.
Producers poured buckets of money into the project. The massive stage, the world-class band, the techno tricks and state-of-the-art effects — especially the Humphrey Bogart chase sequence — are stunning.
It would have been a hell of a show.
Despite the fact that his music doesn’t always work for me, and that he does a way-too-long “ew”-inducing crotch grab, This Is It is not a total time waster. The beauty of director Kenny Ortega’s (High School Musical) film is the focus on Jackson’s incredible talent. That is something we can all agree upon. He shows the rehearsals, the music and the production. Outside of a few takes with the dancers and musicians, gratefully absent are gooshy ravings and reminiscences of family, celebrities and fans.
There are criticisms. Jackson’s dancing is so-so and he can’t keep up with the other dancers. His style is so 1980 with one archaic dance number looking pretty much like the next. Jackson’s defenders might note that at 50 years old, he looks pretty spry. The vocals are a bit weak in spots but those same defenders say with 50 shows coming, he tried to save his voice.
I can go with that one.
This Is It really isn’t it. We’ll be inundated with new Michael Jackson music, videos, special holiday season DVDs, never-before-heard nuggets found in this long-forgotten music vault or that and more documentaries raving about his life.
What Ortega’s documentary gives us that we never will see again is Jackson performing. It’s what he did best — and not enough of. While This Is It isn’t exactly a Thriller, for a music documentary you can’t Beat It.
I — for one — am glad I missed Dancing with the Stars.
Mr. Movie rating: 4 stars
Rated PG for mature themes, crotch-grabbing. It is playing at the Carmike 12 and at the Fairchild Cinemas 12.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.