Blallywood Film Review: Bad 25

by on November 29, 2012

1987 saw the release of Michael Jackson’s 7th studio album. The child prodigy had successfully reinvented himself from his clean youthful image with his brothers in Jackson 5 to King of Pop bad boy with releases like “Off the Wall” and “Thriller.”  By this time, he was ready to proclaim to the world that he was “Bad.”  Perhaps the most influential male performer of the century, MJ completely redefined the music industry combining electric energy, soulful rhythms, raw vocals, and heartfelt charisma.  This year ABC celebrated the release of “Bad” with Bad 25, a Spike Lee joint.

Featuring never before seen archival footage of this music mastermind, this documentary focuses on Michael Jackson’s relentless desire to outsell himself.  Just 2 years after the release of the blockbuster that was “Thriller,” Jackson seems to have wanted nothing more than to achieve and surpass that high.  Cameos include mogul Quincy Jones and several of those closest to MJ himself- songwriters, band members, and the memorable statuesque dancer from “The Way You Make Me Feel,” Tatiana Thumbtzen. They paint a picture of the Jackson that is a gentle and kind perfectionist who expected 100% from every collaborator.  The excitement with which they relive benchmark moments while working with Jackson is infectious and you’ll find yourself enthralled in the stories and moved by the concert footage tastefully sprinkled between interviews.  One fascinating part in particular is the section in which Siedah Garrett, co-writer on “Man in the Mirror” discusses the process by which the song was revealed to her, recounting creative process in it’s most enlightening form. Contemporary performers present to riff on MJ’s influence include Kanye West, Sheryl Crow, Chris Brown, Mariah Carey, and ?uest Love.  Sheryl Crow’s section is particularly interesting and she discusses in detail what it was like to perform the duet “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” with Jackson every night on tour.

The film has the feel of a friendly roast, with many laughs and light-hearted moments, namely while the artists speak candidly about the making of the “short films” for the album.  They openly discuss the creative process for developing the music, recording, and filming the biggest hits on the album, including “The Way You Make Me Feel,” “Liberian Girl” and “Bad” itself, citing Wesley Snipes as being an important part of the success of the video.  Lee then takes the film to a somber and almost reverential place as those closest to him unpack the effect of Jackson’s death on the world and them personally.  Easy to follow, entertaining, and poignant, this film is a great way to pause and remember the legend and his legacy his holiday season. Check it out at abc.com if you missed it when it aired. A.


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