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Man in the Mirror: The Michael Jackson Story, biographical film, biography, review, biopic

Man in the Mirror: The Michael Jackson Story (2004)

Broadcast the month before proceedings were due to begin in Michael Jackson’s second trial, this effort from VH1 was described by its director Allan Moyle as “not a film, not a biography, but a biopoem." Biohazard more like it, for the stench rising from this turd of a movie would likely empty any theatre. Purportedly designed to portray Jackson in a favourable light, Man in the Mirror: The Michael Jackson Story reduces the King of Pop to a naïve simpleton whose defence against allegations of child abuse appears to be that he is a boy who never grew up.

Picking up prior to where The Jacksons: An American Dream left off, the film goes over much of the same material covered in the closing stages of its precursor. After ticking off the Thriller album, Pepsi commercial and Victory Tour, an explanatory caption reveals that at the age of 30, Jackson was still living with his parents. Before you can clap your hands three times, Michael is excitedly telling Janet (who he dubs Tinkerbell) that he is going to build a ranch named Neverland.  Perpetually seen in the company of his own version of ‘the lost boys’, rumours regarding the motives behind Michael’s altruism begin to surface. Just when things couldn’t get any worse, Elizabeth Taylor arrives via helicopter to save the day, beauty spot in tow.

One of the worst movies I’ve ever had to watch in service of this website, this unauthorised biopic was understandably denied the right to use any of Jackson’s music. Instead, we are treated to a soundtrack of elevator muzak while former dancer Flex Alexander moonwalks and gyrates wearing tinfoil on one hand. The cheap costuming is matched by a makeup job that attempts to slim Alexander’s nose with liberal application of shadowing that only results in the actor resembling an extra from the Thriller music video. If his appearance doesn’t have you reaching for a sick bag, Moyle's handheld camera work surely will. When not inducing motion sickness, the director employs extreme close-ups of assorted fans, medical staff and visions of Diana Ross.

Rather than a biopoem, perhaps the film is best summed up in a limerick –

There once was a film starring Flex

That was riddled with many defects

Not that anyone cared

As long as it aired

Before Jackson’s trial, one suspects.

BOMB

Flex Alexander, Michael Jackson, Lynne Cormack, Elizabeth Taylor, Barbara Mamabolo
Janet Jackson, Diana Ross, Samantha Kaine, Samantha Banton

The character of Ziggy is based on Michael Jackson’s manager Frank DeLeo.

The character of Manny is based on Michael Jackson’s accuser Jordan Chandler.

”The most recent unauthorized version of my life story, Man In The Mirror, in no way shape or form represents who we are as a family. It is unfortunate that for years, we have been targets of completely inaccurate and false portrayals. We have watched, as we have been vilified and humiliated. I personally have suffered through many hurtful lies and references to me as “Wacko Jacko”… This is intolerable and must stop.”

Michael Jackson

Biopic recreates a few brief scenes from disgraced journalist Martin Bashir’s documentary Living with Michael Jackson.

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