Should You Go See “This Is It”?

Back in July, when we heard that Sony Pictures had plunked down $60 million smackers for 120 hours of footage from Michael Jackson’s rehearsals for the “This Is It” tour that never was, we wondered if they were geniuses or crazy people. Yes, with MJ love flying high, it seemed like huge numbers of people would pay $10 to $12 for a peek inside the final rehearsals. But then again, 120 hours is not actually a lot of material when it comes to making a feature film—and they paid half a mill per hour. Well, “This Is It” finally opened yesterday, with simultaneous premieres in 16 cities across the globe. Directed by Kenny Ortega, who created the tour with Jackson, it is part concert movie and part documentary. The flick is now showing in 18,000 theaters, but it will only be playing for two weeks. So, should you walk to the theater, run to the theater, or stay at home and ignore the movie’s existence? That really depends on whom you ask.Manohla Dargis of the New York Times says walk:

“The on-screen results are weird and watchable, by turns frustrating and entertaining, and predictably a little morbid … Though shot in high definition, the visuals are generally soft, almost smudged, without the sharp edges you expect with HD. The softening effect most obviously benefits Mr. Jackson, who’s rarely seen in close-up and instead usually appears head to toe, energetically dancing, strutting, marching, moonwalking and sometimes understandably panting across the stage. This distanced vantage robs the curious of a chance to scrutinize that famous face, to unkindly survey the damage, but it also gives you the space to admire his liquid moves as he slips and slides and glides.” [NY Times]

Elizabeth Taylor says run:

“God blessed him and squandered nothing, but loved it all. Michael knew how to put together every tone, every nuance to make magic.” [Twitter]

The Telegraph of London says go only if you are a serious Jackson-head:

“The film carries the dedication: ‘For the fans.’ Quite so: non-believers will find little of interest here.” [Telegraph]

Richard Corliss of Time gives his thumbs-up:

“The coolest moments show Jackson unadorned and unplugged. He sings ‘Human Nature’ nearly a cappella, blending vocal virtuosity and a choirboy’s clarity; there’s nothing false about his falsetto … It proves that, at the end, he was still a thriller.” [Time]

LaToya Jackson says skip it—Michael wouldn’t want the footage released:

“Michael wants to give his best. This was a rehearsal; he wasn’t giving his all.” [La Toya Jackson via NBC]

But The Hollywood Gossip, a website, deems it worthwhile:

“The film felt like a trip down memory lane, a riveting live concert, and a behind-the-scenes documentary all rolled into one. [The Hollywood Gossip]

So will you go see “This Is It”?