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November 24, 2009

Michael Jackson's This Is It

This is It A piecemeal attempt at putting a bow on Michael Jackson's overblown and bankrupt career, this clinical behind-the-scenes collage of the rehearsal process for MJ's doomed London performance schedule is more propaganda than documentary. From a dancing perspective, MJ's signature pop-lock-point-and-crotch-grab dance moves come off as embarrassing relics of an '80s era hip-hop style that doesn't stand up against, say, Fosse's defining Jazz dance moves of the previous decade. We see Jackson coaxed into nervously riding a "cherry-picker" crane that elevates him above the empty seats of an arena rehearsal space where he performs obligatory renditions of "Thriller," "Billie Jean," and "The Man in the Mirror." "God bless you," Jackson repeatedly replies to every tech advisor as if exerting a passive benediction of cultish authority. Brief interview clips with the show's excitable theatrical director Kenny Ortega (doubling as the film's director), back-up singers, and musicians provide a stream of adulation for the man who would die before the show could open. The filmmakers insert plenty of computer generated imagery--pulled from video aspects of the stage show--as hamburger-helper for a smoke-and-mirrors portrait of a controversial performer whose musical career was eclipsed by allegations of habitual pedophilia that will forever mark the books of history.

Rated PG. 111 mins. (C) (Two Stars)

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