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Film: Moonwalker
A movie like no other.
Moonwalker is a 1988 film starring Michael Jackson, and both his only major film appearance after The Wiz in 1978 and his only film as the star, not counting the posthumous documentary Michael Jackson's This Is It. It's best described as a Music Video anthology, with music mostly drawn from his 1987 album Bad. The eight segments are:

  • "Man in the Mirror" — Clips of Jackson performing this song on the Bad tour are combined with clips from the original video taking a look at world movers and shakers over the 20th century.
  • "Retrospective" — A mixed-media montage of Jackson's career from his The Jackson Five days to what was then the present.
  • "Badder" — The "Bad" video remade with an all-kiddie cast.
  • "Speed Demon" — Michael is pursued around a movie studio by Claymation critters; he escapes by disguising himself as one (a rabbit).
  • "Leave Me Alone" — A song about a romantic relationship ending is visually presented as Jackson's commentary on the media picking on him for his eccentricities (both real and rumored).
  • "Smooth Criminal" — The centerpiece segment, taking up about half the film total, has Michael battling a drug-peddling supervillain (Joe Pesci) and his goons for the sake of his kid friends and children the world over. By the end, Michael has turned himself into a spaceship to achieve this goal. (Would it surprise you to learn that Michael himself came up with this storyline?) Note to fans of film music: the David Newman credited as the screenwriter is not the composer.
  • "Come Together" — Really the closing scene of "Smooth Criminal", The Beatles are covered by Michael in a nightclub performance.
  • "The Moon is Walking" — This Ladysmith Black Mambazo tune shot on one of the "Smooth Criminal" sets leads us into the end credits.

For the Sega game based on the movie, see Michael Jackson's Moonwalker. Not to be confused with Moonraker nor the one shot manga Moon Walker.

This film contains examples of:

  • The Aggressive Drug Dealer: It doesn't get more aggressive than trying to inject a little girl personally! Even better, no reason is given for why he wants to get everybody (especially children) addicted to drugs. He just wants to.
    • There's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it line that might explain it: at one point, Frankie Lideo rants about how everyone in the world will know his name!!! (But they'd better spell it right.) It's possible the only reason Lideo's pushing drugs on kids is to make himself world-famous, to be known as the guy who did something so horrible.
  • All There in the Script: Joe Pesci's character is named "Mr. Big" in the credits, but is not referred to as such via dialogue. The villain reveals his name is "Frankie Lideo" early on (an in-joke; Jackson's manager at the time was Frank DiLeo...who later played a character nicknamed Mr. Big in the first Wayne's World movie), but no one else refers to him by name.
  • Animal Motifs: Mr. Big heavily associates himself with spiders, picturing his drug empire as a web ensnaring the globe.
  • BFG: Being a drug dealer, it makes sense that Frankie has a Wave Motion Gun the size of a building, hidden behind a retractable mountainside. Which is controlled using hand cranks. Yes.
  • Broken Aesops:
    • The first half of the movie is mostly a celebration of how great and successful Michael is, but then we have "Leave Me Alone", which asks us to stop paying attention to him. It's specifically referring to the tabloid press, but it's just strange to draw so much attention to yourself — often through bizarre activities — and then complain about being paid attention to just because it isn't all positive press.
    • "Man on the Mirror" is about making the world a better place, with visuals focusing on peacemaking and charity. It's harder to take that seriously when "Smooth Criminal" has Michael shooting off a machine gun during the sequence in Club 30s and blowing up all the villains in the climax.
  • But Not Too Evil: The Blu-Ray version has been cut; we no longer see Mr. Big attempt to inject Katie, nor do we see Michael (try to) threaten Mr. Big.
  • But Now I Must Go: Subverted. Michael turns into a space ship and flies away after saving the day while his young playmates say "He's leaving"...but he doesn't actually go anywhere and comes back minutes later.
  • The Cameo: The Noid in "Speed Demon".
  • Claymation: "Speed Demon" of course, but check out the "ABC" clip in the earlier montage too.
  • Cool Bike: In "Speed Demon", Michael turns a bike into a motorcycle at the beginning of the song. He also turns it into several things, including a jetski.
  • Cool Car: Michael transforms into one.
  • Cool Guns: Most obviously the tommygun Jackson apparently pulls out of trouser space during the "Smooth Criminal" sequence, but also the mook weapons are modded HK94 carbines, the civilian version of the MP5.
  • Cool Ship: Michael's third form.
  • Deus ex Machina: It's not like we ever find out why Michael has the ability to turn into a superfast car, shielded robot with energy cannons, or a giant spaceship. It would seem to be the result of his wishing upon a shooting "lucky star", but why does it conveniently appear every time the chips are down?
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Two cowboy movie actors chase after Michael for disrupting their shot.
  • Eleventh Hour Superpower: Robo-Jackson
  • Enemy Mine: In "Speed Demon", the cowboy actors plays the heroic sheriff and an evil gunslinger, and they team-up to get Michael.
  • Everything's Better with Sparkles: Especially in montages.
  • Everything's Better with Spinning: Several times, most prominently when the dance-off between Michael and the rabbit in "Speed Demon" comes down to who can execute the most impressive spin.
  • Evil Redheads: The two fat guys riding mopeds in "Speed Demon".
  • Faceless Goons: Mr. Big's men.
  • For the Evulz: Mr. Big in the movie wants to get all the children of the world high on drugs...why? Because he wants to be famous... apparently.
  • Foreshadowing: "Retrospective" shows a couple elements that show up in later segments. The TV turns into a spaceship, a snippet of "ABC" features the Jackson 5 in Claymation, and a metallic robot.
  • Friend to All Children: Michael in "Smooth Criminal".
  • Groin Attack: The kid standing in for Michael in "Badder" clearly hurts himself when he grabs his crotch.
  • In Medias Res: "Smooth Criminal" opens in the city with Mr. Big's goons gunning Michael down (or so they think); we then Flashback to how Michael and Katie discovered his scheme.
  • Irony: The highway officer got Michael's "autograph", which the Claymation characters tried to get from him.
  • Jetpack: Michael sprouts one in "Speed Demon".
  • Large Ham: Joe Pesci as Mr. Big.
  • Makes Just as Much Sense in Context: Come to think of it... No, it makes even less sense in context.
  • Man in White: Michael's outfit in the "Smooth Criminal" segment.
  • Mind Screw: The page description is just the beginning.
  • Moonwalk Dance: Duh! Though Jackson only performs it a few times during the music video of "Smooth Criminal". Earlier in the film a cop gives him a ticket for moonwalking on the road in a "No moonwalking zone".
  • Music Video Overshadowing: "Leave Me Alone" is actually about a romantic breakup.
  • Montage
  • Nightmare Face: The boy and his grandma in "Speed Demon" upon seeing Michael Jackson.
  • Paparazzi: In "Speed Demon", Michael was also being chased by them along with the fans. Among them is a mafia-like group carrying cameras instead of guns and bandoliers filled with films instead of bullets.
  • Random Events Plot
  • Roger Rabbit Effect: "Speed Demon", with claymation characters.
  • Rule of Cool: Aside from activating some background objects, the moonwalk in the Genesis game has no real function. It just looks awesome.
  • Say My Name: Katie does this a lot with regards to Michael.
  • Scene Transition:
    • "Retrospective" ends with a clip of the beginning of "Bad", setting up the "Badder" segment.
    • Between "Badder" and "Speed Demon".
  • Shapeshifting: Michael gets this ability while disguised as a rabbit. The rabbit suit comes to life and turned into a mountain.
  • Shout-Out: Frankie's men have guns with cool LED ammo counters obviously inspired by the then-recent Aliens.
    • The logo also looks to have been very much influenced by the font used for the title of TRON.
    • The theme park in Leave Me Alone has two quick scenes from the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Frankie apparently has this problem, given Michael comes across him complaining about it.
    "I want everyone in this world to take drugs because of me (...) It's gonna be in the history books." <paces> "They'd better spell my name right. L-I-D-E-O! It's so simple! Frankie LIDEO!"
  • Stuff Blowing Up: All over the place in the climax of "Smooth Criminal".
  • Talky Bookends: This is what the stories in "Speed Demon" and "Smooth Criminal" come down to — they just go on a lot longer than music video channels would allow.
  • Technology Porn: The extended-and-then-some robot transformation sequence.
  • Transforming Mecha: Michael himself. Somehow.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Mr. Big.

Mississippi BurningFilms of the 1980sMy Best Friend is a Vampire

alternative title(s): Moonwalker
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