Man in the Mirror: The Michael Jackson Story

2004 VH1 original movie

Rating: 2/20

Plot: An unauthorized biopic about the guy who ended up buying the bones of the guy the last movie I watched was about. Following early fame and fortune as a child singing sensation with his brothers, Michael Jackson becomes the King of Pop, buys a ranch, pretends he's Peter Pan, burns his scalp, molests a lot of young boys, marries Elvis's daughter, divorces Elvis's daughter, has some children, has some plastic surgery, and gradually turns into a white man.

Before I pushed play, I thought I was going to watch a documentary. Nope. It's an unauthorized biopic. And being an unauthorized biopic, they weren't able to get the rights to any of Michael Jackson's songs. That's right. This is a movie about the life of Michael Jackson that doesn't include a single Michael Jackson song. Oh, there are a lot of scenes where he's performing, but there are no Michael Jackson songs. There's just something completely wrong about that. It's like making a movie about Babe Ruth without showing any scenes with Babe Ruth playing baseball. But that's not the only problem with Man in the Mirror: The Michael Jackson Story. No, no, no, this movie has more problems than Michael Jackson had quirks. First, this has more awkward moments than any movie I've ever seen. Take this bit of dialogue between Michael and sister Janet:

Michael: (enters room) "Hey, Tink."
Janet: (looking up) "Hi, Peter Pan!"
Michael: "I'm Peter Pan!"
Janet: (clapping) "And I'm Tinkerbell!"
(A tickle fight ensues.)

Or this one between Michael Jackson and a little boy:

Little Boy: "Hi. . .you're famous."
Michael: (shakes head wildly like he's in a cartoon or like he's trying to get a wasp out of his hair) "Am I?"
(A tickle fight ensues.)

Or look no further than a scene where Elizabeth Taylor tells Michael Jackson, during the time when the molestation accusation is causing him problems, that she'll always be there for him. It's a corny scene. But the next shot is with a group of photographers taking pictures of an apparently nude Michael Jackson (as I recall, part of the investigation) while Jackson's assistant stands in front of him and holds up a painting of Elizabeth Taylor. What the hell? That might give me nightmares. At one point, Elizabeth Taylor tells Michael, "This is not a joke." It's really hard for me to see this production as anything but a joke.

Don't believe me that this is stuffed with awkward? Look no further than Michael and Lisa Marie's first date, a date where they apparently go outside to look at stock footage of butterflies. One of them lands on Lisa Marie's finger, and Michael points out that "That's rare" and that it's probably because Lisa Marie is sweet. Then cut to what might be the worst montage I've ever seen--shitty music (not Michael Jackson's music though) with different shots of Lisa Marie and Michael striking slightly different poses with some trees in the background. Right at the moment when you're about to throw up, it cuts to a shot of the happy couple in the bedroom where Michael (thankfully!) announces that he doesn't believe in premarital sex. But they still kiss. And if you ever find yourself in a position where you're forced to watch this movie (i.e. you've died and gone to hell), you will still throw up all over the floor.

OK, you still don't believe me? Then take this line of dialogue, spoken right after a news person has made fun of Michael Jackson for naming one of his children Blanket. "But he's like a blanket. . .a blanket of love."

The camera work will make you wish the people involved had gone to a film school where they taught the students about tripods. There are so many scenes where the camera will very quickly pan to another character and stop to, for whatever reason, shake a little bit. You're jerked very quickly from episode to episode, and although it touches upon most of the most difficult times in Jackson's life, it's mostly very pro-Michael. The acting in this travesty is almost as good as you'd expect to get from any television commercial. Flex Alexander, an actor who presumably used a pseudonym to protect his career, had terrible writing to work with, but his Michael Jackson isn't far from what you'd expect to see in a late-night parody. The woman who plays Elizabeth Taylor (Lynne Cormack) gave another performance that seemed like a parody. In fact, I thought at first that it was Saturday Night Live's Cherie O'Teri. A lot of the story is pushed along with words that pop on the screen. It's insightful stuff. Like "A dream come true." Or, "Michael's new friend, Manny." And somehow they manage to tie in O.J. Simpson and 9/11.

This will easily be the worst movie I see all year. So why am I giving it a 2/20 instead of a 1/20? Outstanding special effects (I'm thinking a powder) used to show Michael Jackson's weird skin discoloration thing. I was impressed with that.


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Shane said...


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