I have never been a big fan of Michael Jackson. That could be considered offensive to say in a review of a film put together so soon after his death. As a child of the ‘80s, however, I am fully aware of the man's iconic stature. My parents weren’t fans and neither are any of my friends from that time period. All I really have known about the man is that he is mostly referred to as “The King of Pop” and has about a “million” hit singles played regularly on the radio or at Halloween parties.
The songs I am most familiar with are definitely his hits from when I was growing up as a child. From “Billie Jean,” “Beat It,” “Thriller,” and “We Are the World” to “Bad,” “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You,” “The Way You Make Me Feel,” “Man In the Mirror” and the Disneyland 3-D film Captain EO -- this is what I am most familiar with. Going into This Is It I was worried I wouldn’t be as familiar with his material and not have any kind of connection to make as a new fan.
Aside from the fact that he is a tabloid star and has had two “Weird” Al Yankovic spoofs, “Fat” and “Eat It,” it was quite the treat to hear a soundtrack consisting of all the songs I did know and was surprised by how many of his more recent tunes I knew as well. I am pretty sure there were maybe two songs performed in the 112 minute runtime that I flat out did not know. Not a bad track record for someone who owns no Michael Jackson albums to this day.
Upon sitting down for the film I was totally unaware that it was directed by Kenny Ortega. I would have to say that as much as I am not a huge fan of Michael Jackson, I am even far less of a fan of Ortega’s. This is the man responsible for the glut of Disney merchandising and local filmmaking hemorrhaging at Salt Lake City’s downtown East High School. Yes, the director of this great documentary is none other than the same man who has unleashed three High School Musicals upon an unsuspecting public starting back in 2006.