Moonwalker was my favorite movie as a kid and to this day I never get tired of watching it. It isn't meant to be taken seriously as a movie; just another vehicle to showcase the talent and magic of Michael Jackson during his prime. So, come “rock with me” as we enjoy the bumpy thrill-ride that is Moonwalker.
The movie begins with blaring synthesizers and the movie logo shown over an endless crowd of Jackson fanatics as he begins performing one of his biggest hits, Man In The Mirror. This footage was taken from performances during his BAD world tour from 1987-89, and Michael was certainly in his prime here. What I don't like about watching Michael Jackson performances during this time were the constant fan reaction shots. With every spin, every grunt, every crotch grab, etc, the camera zooms right in on fan reactions. People were passing out left and right. Not just young teenage girls, but grown men, too. Michael had that kind of power over people in his time. During their time, Elvis Presley and The Beatles had the girls swooning too, but this was something else. And in lots of different countries.
The movie then transitions into animations and brief music video snippets of Jackson's long career up to that time. There's Jackson 5 footage, leading up to Jackson's more recent successes with Off The Wall and Thriller. But when we finally get around to the BAD video, we see the video being re-enacted by children, led by a snarling Brandon Adams as Michael, and R&B singing group “The Boyz” playing the "menacing" Wesley Jones gang from the original video. This was all in good fun, and Adams certainly had the moves down.
Emerging through a random fog outside, MJ and his posse have returned to their normal adult selves. Michael was sporting his black, leather-clad and buckled outfit from the BAD video.
I have to point out that by this time, MJ no longer resembled the same guy we saw in the “Thriller” video a few years prior. Sure enough he had the same whispery voice and mannerisms, but there was also new self-confidence, a new nose, a noticeably brighter skin shade (around this time, his skin disease was beginning to reveal itself) and his jheri curl had grown into a long, wavy mullet shag. But the fans on a nearby tour bus (much like his real life fanatics) didn't give a damn. It wasn't long before the King of Pop was spotted. “MICHAEL JACKSONNNNNNNN!!!!” a young boy shouts out. Those two words ignited a frenzy and everyone on the bus ran out to chase our giggling star.
The chase leads to Michael hiding in a costume store and picking out (of all things) a BUNNY WABBIT costume?!!? The same guy who transformed into a bloodthirsty “werecat” creature and dancing zombie in Thriller decided to bypass the scary costumes and went for the bunny wabbit? You'd think he'd try to scare his stalkers. Sometimes I can't figure Michael out..
Anyway, he casually strolls out of the costume store and the authorities fall for the disguise, one even saying, “It's just a stupid rabbit!”
Before leaving, Michael gets their attention with a whistle and then taunts them by doing some of his signature dance steps before hopping on a bicycle and speeding off. (I still can't figure Michael out. He must have enjoyed the thrill of a chase. This would have been his chance to get away peacefully and quietly).
Afterward, Michael arrives at a concluded area near a cliff and attempts to abandon his bunny wabbit suit there, only for it to spring to life and challenge Michael to a dance-off. This was a fun exchange, with the bunny (Spike) matching Michael move for move until Michael does a spin effect that makes Spike's eyes bulge in surprise. But Michael can't celebrate his victory for long because he is harassed by a cop who points to a sign that says this.
Now the actual “movie” part of the movie rolls in. Three homeless children, Sean (Sean Lennon, real life son of John and Yoko Ono) Katie (Kelley Parker) and Zeke (Brandon Adams, who appeared in the BAD remake earlier) are spying on Michael from the rooftops as he emerges from his town house. I honestly don't know the purpose of this part, as Michael kind of poses around doing his best to look pretty. Vanity moment, perhaps?
Once inside the spider-infested lair, we discover Mr. Big screeching about how he wants to take over the world and get children everywhere high on drugs so he can make a fortune. He has an obsession with spiders, so maybe he was going to use them as his enforcers? The plot didn't explore this. Anyway, a tarantula crawls on Katie, she screams and gives away their hiding spot, and Mr. Big points and yells “DEAD!!! DEAD!!! DEAD!!!” MJ and poor Katie are marked for dead, obviously.
This brings us back to the present where Michael is again being chased. The visuals of MJ sprinting in the shadows throughout the smoke and buildings is actually pretty cool, especially with the foot soldiers shining their bright flashlights everywhere. However, Mr. Big's high pitched screeching voice is constantly barking orders at his crew. And with Katie constantly screaming “MICHAEL!!” at him from the rooftops, I am seriously surprised that she didn't give away his location to the bad guys.
After MJ was somehow able to outrun slobbering, booty-munching Dobermann Pinschers, he found himself backed into an alley with no escape. That shooting star whizzes by again. Although he makes a face as if he needs to have the explosive bowel movement of a lifetime, Michael instead squats and transforms into a car. (Yes, you read that right).
"Turbo Michael" as I call him in car form, easily out-speeds his pursuers. In the meantime, Katie has reunited with Zeke and Sean at a haunted, abandoned jazz club called Club '30s.
Throughout this segment, Michael escapes an ass-whooping after blowing pool-ball dust in an on-looker's face, and blows another man away with a gun upstairs. The dance routines just get better and better, only momentarily interrupted by a random orgy with no sex. I guess they were attempting to resurrect Annie? I don't know, but I do know I don't wanna spend too much time talking about it.
A trap door separates Michael from his young friends and he is soon cornered by Mr. Big's cronies. Mr. Big arrives holding on to Katie and tries to inject her with drugs. Michael again tries his damnest to be a tough guy. But he is swiftly beaten up by one of the foot soldiers.
The sky now begins to resemble the one in a Ghostbusters movie, but as Michael sits up he begins to undergo another Thriller-esque transformation.
Long story short, Michael disappears from earth for a while but is "summoned" by Katie's lucky star she found on the ground. Michael returns to the children giving hugs and love, and then takes them backstage to a concert where he'll be performing. There, the foursome are reunited with that damn dog Skipper (who NEVER returned their soccer ball, mind you) and Michael goes on stage to perform his dazzling rendition of The Beatles' hit song, Come Together, full of epic crotch shots and pelvic thrusts.
From there we get to the ending credits, which is another personal highlight for me. Ladysmith Black Mambazo have to be the hippest, most soulful old men on the planet. They don't even need music to make you dance. I used to beg my granddaddies to join these guys but they sadly never did. Anyway, leave it to Michael to leave you entertained during the end credits.
Off The Record
Michael Jackson will always be one of my heroes. I will not speak on whatever personal problems he had, but the man was a creative genius. The songwriting, the dancing, the singing, the flash, the style, the clothes, everything. He was what a true superstar should be. And during this time, how the hell could you NOT be a Michael Jackson fan?
Having said that, this isn't a movie to take seriously. I don't think he was going for an Oscar or anything. This was just a chance for us to see him doing the things that he did best. And this was also one of the last times we saw a fun, almost carefree version of Michael. His later appearance on The Simpsons was probably the the last time he ever mocked himself and showed his "fun" side. After 1993, things went downhill fast, but one look at Moonwalker shows how amazing this man was.
9 out of 11 of the BAD songs are featured throughout Moonwalker. BAD was released when I was almost two years old, so it (and Dangerous) were the albums I grew up with. Moowalker and the music from the BAD album are nostalgic for me. This was the Michael Jackson I constantly mimicked when I was a kid.
And hey, it's still a fun movie to watch and highly entertaining all of these decades later. Could Beyonce, Kayne West or Chris Brown put together something as fun as this? You tell me...