mj-this-is-it_web.jpgEveryone remembers where they were when they found out about the death of Michael Jackson.

I was about to give testing procedures to a class of firefighter recruits.  My mother called me, and for some strange reason I answered my cell phone, being totally unprofessional. 
Just before I rushed her off the phone, she told me that Jackson was dead. Stunned, I hung up the phone and, speaking out loud, announced to the class that Jackson had passed away.

I shook my head and went on with my job, because that’s what I was being paid to do, and I was hoping that it was one of those Internet hoaxes. Unfortunately, it was not.

What always struck me as odd was the outpouring of love and support for Jackson’s family when the artist passed away. While he was on trial for molestation, no one was in his corner except a faithful few, including Elizabeth Taylor.

Now that the King of Pop is dead, he’s been voted back onto the island. What can I tell you?  We Americans like what we like.

In Michael Jackson’s This is It, Kenny Ortega puts together footage of the rehearsal process spanning from March to June 2009 for Jackson’s comeback tour. Jackson even wrote a song for it by the same name.  The tour was supposed to be Jackson’s opportunity to put a new spin on some fan favorites, such as “Beat It,” “Smooth Criminal,” “The Way You Make Me Feel,” “I Want You Back,” “Billie Jean” and others.

The documentary, which runs 121 minutes, gives a rare glimpse of the pop star and his frame of mind just before he died.  He was very gracious, always thanking people and blessing them. He even threw in “I love you” a few times. 

I read that one of the contributing factors to Jackson’s death was that he was working long days and not eating.  In turn, he wasn’t sleeping, either, hence the Propofol.  But, I won’t get into the details surrounding his death.  The media have covered that enough.

Ortega, who serves as director of the film and one of the choreographers of the tour, was commissioned by Columbia Pictures to put together the footage and make a film that could be brought to the masses.  Of course, Columbia is capitalizing on the sudden death of the singer to make a quick buck.  This is why the film is, supposedly, only being released for two weeks.

Columbia wants to make a lot of money in a short period of time. After the studio sees the film has done well, it will, most likely, re-release it in theaters for about a month or two.  It’s all a part of the game.

But, I digress.

I won’t give a traditional review on performance, except to say that the dancers danced quite well. Jackson picked 11 good-looking men and women to dance with him on stage.  He isn’t too bad himself. At the age of 50, he could still moonwalk like no one else. 

Ortega’s directing, though it lulls in certain spots, is decent.  Considering he’s directed musical films like all three High School Musicals and The Cheetah Girls 2, This is It isn’t that much of a stretch for him. 

Ortega worked tirelessly editing the film, and I applaud his efforts.  I even applaud his sensibilities to audience emotion.  During a scene in which Jackson is singing I’ll Be There, Ortega intersperses the footage of Jackson singing the song with images of the Jackson 5, when Jackson was still so young and bright-eyed.

It wasn’t until this point in the film that it finally hit me that Jackson is gone and not coming back.  This really was not an elaborate publicity stunt.  I’m usually a late bloomer when it comes to tragedy.  Things like this don’t affect me until something really small catches my attention.

When his death did catch up with me, I started to cry and mourn for the man that I knew as a pop phenomenon, who loved people, especially children.

Seeing this film also made me mourn the days of music with a good beat and a message.  Music from Jackson’s heyday, spanning approximately 40 years, has always had a beginning, middle and end, unlike most of the music today.

So, I recommend everyone who was ever a fan of Jackson to see this film. Supposedly, this is the last week to see the film before it goes into vaults, never to be seen again: This is It!

At least, that’s what Columbia Pictures wants you to think.  Either way, it’s a good film.


This is It can be seen in movie theaters across the country in IMAX and regular format.