Movies

'This Is It': A Michael Jackson Fan Speaks

Michael Jackson and dancers in 'This Is It.' i i

Michael Jackson's new film This Is It shows the singer preparing for a tour the never happened. Kevin Mazur/Sony Pictures hide caption

itoggle caption Kevin Mazur/Sony Pictures
Michael Jackson and dancers in 'This Is It.'

Michael Jackson's new film This Is It shows the singer preparing for a tour the never happened.

Kevin Mazur/Sony Pictures

As a longtime fan of Michael Jackson's music, I found both a trick and a treat in This Is It, the new movie showing the rehearsals for his final tour that didn't happen. (For those of you who haven't seen it yet, there are a few spoilers, of course.)

First, the tricks — Michael's tricks, that is. They raised a few questions.

• Why did he keep telling people "God bless you" when no one had sneezed?

• I understand that, being on stage, you have to show some glitz to boost the visual dramatics and help those poor (or cheap) fans in the nosebleed section identify which dot on the stage is the star, but why were some of Michael's non-performance clothes also bedazzled?

• When the volume in his earbud was too loud, why didn't Michael just say that, rather than giving a long, incoherent speech about a fist in his ear?

• Why did Michael get mad during rehearsals because some mysterious "they" made him ... sing? To quote him, "That's what rehearsals are for."

Fortunately, the treats were many, many, many!

The treats, after the jump.

• The music. If you know all of Michael's hits, you'll love this flick, because he sings (or mumbles) each one, pretty much as you remember it. You'll see the music director try to add a little variation to one song to freshen it up, but Michael cuts that short: "I want it like I wrote it." Tell 'em, MJ — you won all the Grammys.

• The sets and production. Michael was a born entertainer, and the movie suggests that he knew how to put together a show that would blow away his many fans. Different songs were to be accompanied by different special effects and over-the-top production dance numbers, just like many of his videos. I'm still trying to decide whether I liked the updated "Thriller" or "Smooth Criminal" best.

• The backup dancers! Whoo-whee, the backup dancers!

• Finally, getting a chance to see Michael in a more candid way. He was "Jacko" for a lot of years, with the monkey and the surgical mask and the glove and the epaulets and the sequins and "Blanket." It was interesting to see how people around him responded to and interacted with him away from much of that.

In the end, it was worth the nearly $20 I spent to dance in my seat while my husband napped on and off next to me.

Tanya Ballard Brown is an editor for NPR.org who continues to shake her body down to the ground to Michael Jackson's hits.

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