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Movie Review: This Is It

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The human body, as simple machine, can multiply the force, or it can multiply the distance, but it cannot do both simultaneously. We know that the force of music and dance was Michael Jackson or MJ, as his directors and sound men often call him during rehearsals, but sadly not even the ginormous persona of MJ could multiply the distance by adding years to his short life or meat to the meager movie This Is It.

If This Is It was thrown together to help Michael multiply his short distance, then it falls faster than a shooting star — no, this is not it, this is not the vehicle that will take Jackson fans through time. It's shameless. We've been had by director Kenny Ortega with this brilliant fake film. This Is It is not a movie, it is not a documentary. It is raw rehearsal footage — you've been warned. There is no there there. We see Michael wear pumpkin-orange spandex with a teal T-shirt and a silver lame jacket and look damn good wearing it. He is popsicle-stick thin to be sure, but mostly in those damn neon-orange pants. He wears them often since 800 hours (and many days) of rehearsal footage are gleaned and brushed off to create this 111-minute "documentary." Thus we are treated to many outfit and costume changes for Michael but never get to see even one full dress rehearsal of the planned concert!

Michael is on stage. We know it is his face, presence, and voice. He is the star — we get it. But the audience would have a better chance of catching a glimpse of an actual celestial body by gazing into the night sky instead of trying to pick out the "star" right before their eyes. Because with this film we have no close-up chance of catching sight of who this man (who often morphs into a woman before our eyes) is. It is not the birth of a star. It is not even the death of a star. Why? because the fans are not invited into the inner circle. They are not called upon to mourn or witness the reaction of those who knew him best in his last days.There is no mention of his death or his fragility, no portrait of his soul is seen. This could have been remedied with time — time taken to interview MJ lovers, family, fans, dancers, and musicians. Instead Ortega cherry picks a few pieces of hard fruit, boxes them, and presents it as finished homage to Michael Jackson. For the fans? I don't think so.

No hard-core questions are asked nor answered. There are no superficial or in-depth interviews; no MJ looking worn or haggard; no behind-the-scenes gossip or glitches. What is it, really? It is mostly over-the-top technology. Slam, jam, and thank-you-ma'am struts across the stage and we are left wanting more of something — anything. Instead Mr.Tech-Savvy is star and Michael Jackson is a pitiful afterthought. I think he would not be pleased with this final production.

One nice surprise — his voice and his most famous, most familiar songs were planned for the 50 concerts, with the addition of a couple of new numbers. The first half of the film ends with "Thriller." MJ sings, reinvents, and adds plenty to his already fabulous "Thriller." But that is not enough to save this film. Yes, for one brief shining moment Michael graces the big screen as a 1930s gangster (for "Smooth Criminal") and fan of Rita Hayworth — he is in the front row where he catches her glove. And we catch a glimpse of a man who loves classy dames and who looks like a movie star. We see Michael push through virtual glass, with much technology on display.

However, This Is It is mostly a missed opportunity. And as such, could have been sold to television. Better yet, a Number Ones CD could have accompanied the ticket purchased, affixed with a caveat that reads: "Go home and listen to this instead." Sing in the shower and shake your booty, because there is no razzle-dazzle here. This Is It is all about movie-goers tip-toeing over a dying star.

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About Heloise

  • http://www.AriccaSays.com Aricca Says

    Wow that was a way harsh review! I went to the movie expecting what you wrote. But instead I found that it was nothing like a “boring watch Michael rehearse” documentary. Even the audience seemed to enjoy it as well as the online social communities. I have a much different viewpoint, you should go to my site and check out my review. I have to say this is the first bad review that I’ve seen and I hope people will go see this film and judge for themselves.

  • heloise

    Bad reviews are out there. I’ve seen hundreds of documentary films and all kinds of dance shows. And this is it was about the most boring. It is a film fake and did not excite me in the least. Love mj so I hope somebody makes a real doc someday. I can’t rec this film.

  • http://www.AriccaSays.com Aricca Says

    Let me correct something from my last comment, when I said “bad review” I didn’t mean your review was bad. I meant that it’s the first review I’ve read about the movie where someone didn’t like it. I can tell you’re an MJ fan and you were expecting much more. Obviously some got what they wanted out of it and some didn’t :)

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/heloise Heloise

    I know what you meant. RT has It at about 80% fresh. The few who wrote bad reviews about this film-fake were routed with comments.

    It makes me wonder why Kenny Ortega made a rush, short appearance on Nightline? He didn’t say shit except that Michael called him excited about the concerts being a hit!

    If they did not want it reviewed as a film then they should have put in on a CD or DVD as an extra. That works for me. It is NOT, I repeat, not a documentary film. It is a disgrace to that genre! IMHO.

    I saw a tribute to him being in the form of a broadway play. But what do I know?

    Heloise

  • dana

    I really liked the movie. I saw it twice. I went to the theater not expecting an up close, deep documentary all about MJ’s life, but instead I expected to get a glimpse of what his concerts were gonna be like and how he prepared for them. That is exactly what I got. And that is why I liked. If you expected more than that you will probably be disappointed. I am a huge fan and just being able to watch MJ perform one last time to his most popular songs, was enough to make it a great move.

  • Jasmine

    Interesting. I happen to know for a fact that hundreds of fans of MJ thoroughly enjoyed this film, even returning to the theater to see it three or four times.

    It is a film for the fans.

    I believe that a portrait of his soul is seen in this film. The way MJ directs people with complete humility and understanding speaks a lot for the kind of man he was.

    Also, I don’t think it was meant to be a documentary in the purest sense of the word. It’s supposed to be a glimpse into the genius of Michael Jackson, not another reason for humanity to say “look what we did to him”, but rather “look at what a brilliant man he was in spite of what we did to him.”

    I loved this film. I’ve seen it twice, and I definitely want to go again. A film for the fans? Yes. Yes, indeed.