This friend, who I trust very much, told me that I HAD to see Michael Jackson's This Is It, that it will be one of the top selling movies of all time, that it will win numerous academy awards and will be celebrated as one of the best movies of all time.
Whew! I told him I'd see it!
My friend Chuck rewarded himself to a movie after finishing a major project. He chose This Is It on the day of the movie's release, October 28, 2009. He saw the movie at the Roxy Stadium on Verdugo in Camarillo. There were maybe 15 people in the theater.
Chuck and I, both in our mid-forties, enjoyed Michael Jackson's music over the years and had an appreciation for his musical and performance talent. We bought his music from time to time, albums like Thriller and Off the Wall. Who could possibly not enjoy any of MJ's music!? He is an icon.
Yet we were not MJ fanatics, never went to his concerts and didn't rave about him. We both thought his cosmetic surgery escapades were pretty strange and that he completely disfigured himself. So what though, he had some quirks. We didn't pay much attention to his legal issues through all the years, giving MJ the benefit of the doubt (though still acknowledging MJ did some weird stuff). But we respected and admired MJ for his incredible talent.
Chuck was mesmerized by the movie. He saw the side of MJ that we never saw before. This was MJ in pure work mode, preparing for his upcoming sold out series of 50 concerts at the O2 Arena in London (we're talking over a million seats sold out within like a week). This was MJ's first concert tour for a dozen years, considered the biggest concert comeback of all time.
What impressed Chuck was the pure perfectionist MJ was in the film footage, tirelessly working on details with his talented entourage. We saw MJ interact with musicians and dancers. We saw how soft spoken, kind, yet determined and precise Jackson was in this amazing 111 minute documentary.
Neither Chuck nor I would normally pay to see a concert movie. But MJ's This Is It was not a concert. This movie was a journey behind the scenes of someone who we know have fuller appreciation for. We saw the real, live, unscripted Michael Jackson. The working Michael Jackson.
And boy did MJ and crew work hard. The backup singers (including the beautiful and talented Judith Hill), the band (wowee that blonde guitarist Orianthi Panagaris was shockingly good and quite nice on the eyes) and the amazing background dancers. The opening scene of the movie showed us the pure emotion and glee of these dancers who were selected to work with MJ. This was quite a sad moment for me....seeing their joy, knowing the eventual outcome that took place on June 25, 2009.
Chuck is a professional artist and cherished what he saw and learned in the movie. It touched him deeply and provided him motivation to continue perfecting his own craft. He saw a side and style to MJ that made an imprint on him.
For me, Michael Jackson's This Is It was an event that I will remember as if I actually saw MJ live. I would suggest seeing this movie in a theater as Chuck and I did. I took the opportunity to see the movie on Halloween afternoon in Ventura as the kids napped back home. I was surprised to find the theater nearly empty too; there were no more than 20 people in there.
I felt melancholy the whole movie because MJ died way too young. He was loved and cherished by his entire crew and the world. This Is It showed us his compassion, his talent and his love for his craft. But it was also a really great look behind the scenes of preparation for a concert. And the music, choreography and special effects seen from the lens of a documentary was captivating!
I'd see it again.