Made when Michael Jackson was still the biggest pop star in the world and before all the tabloid attention, this is, unfortunately, a bit of a mess.
The individual segments of Moonwalker don’t add up to a discernible plot but have recurring elements which alternately picture Jackson as a pop messiah and as an artist overwhelmed by his mass celebrity. An early sequence finds him pursued through a movie lot by a troop of tourists and cowboys wearing huge papier-mache heads.
The 42-minute centrepiece, Smooth Criminal, finds him being chased by hoodlums determined to hook the youth of America on dangerous drugs. Jackson is cast as both the saviour of three young children and their inevitable dog, and as the hero determined to block the evil plan of the film’s heavy, Frankie LiDeo (Joe Pesci).
The name was a clear allusion to Jackson’s real-life manager, Frank DiLeo, who fancied himself as Jackson’s answer to Elvis Presley‘s handler Colonel Tom Parker.
The storyline of Smooth Criminal is vague to say the least. When Jackson is cornered in an alley, he crouches down and is transformed into an automobile that makes the Batmobile look like a Model T Ford. Later, when the evil LiDeo starts slapping one of his young friends around, Michael gets so steamed he turns into a fighting machine that looks like a cross between the Goodyear tyre man and Tron.
The film is certainly a state-of-the-art compendium of animation, claymation and special effects and fans will love the music and the innovative pop promo interludes.
Look out for John and Yoko‘s son, Sean Lennon, as one of Jackson’s chums.
Mr Big (Frankie LiDeo)
Zeke/”Baby Bad” Michael