Friday, 2 August 2013

15 Second Review: Moonwalker (1988)

Imagine sitting a hyperactive four year old in front of a series of Michael Jackson videos, intercut with a) an episode of Go-bots, b) a Bugs Bunny cartoon, and c) an anti-drugs public information film. Now, get the energetic child to describe what they have just seen. Write it down. I can only imagine the incomprehensible gibberish that would result is what Moonwalker’s “story” must have looked like when Jackson drafted it. The screenwriter deserves a Nobel prize for bringing this to screen, however bizarre the results are. Part music video, part homage to other cultural touchstones (including Transformers), and part onanistic ego-fantasy, Moonwalker is as curious as it is incoherent. The trailer promises that it is ‘a movie like no other’, and in fairness that is an accurate description. 90 minutes of “stuff”, the film is visually exciting to a fault: it is the ultimate MTV movie in the worst possible sense. The Smooth Criminal section is immaculately choreographed, and is easily the most impressive element of the movie. The “afterschool special” anti-drug vibe is admirable in intent, but is hilariously over-pitched. The resolution is coded as conventional love story clinch, but occurs between Michael and three kids, and so the film does nothing but damage to the allegations of child abuse that would follow. The movie has value as an artefact of Jackson’s fame and of 1980s popular culture. As a narrative? Moonwalker is the cinematic equivalent of being beaten with a copy of Dr Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham.

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