Michael Jackson's This Is It



Concert film documents King of Pop's final labor of love.
Parents recommendPopular with kids
  • Review Date: October 28, 2009
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Release Year: 2009
  • Running Time: 112 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Despite concerns from some that the movie is exploitative, when taken on its own, it's a surprisingly tender, disarming view of an artistic genius coming out of hiding. Jackson's talents shine through, as does his famously genteel demeanor. The affection, respect, and esteem that the dancers, musicians, and crew members have for him is palpable.

Positive role models

Much has been said of Jackson's supposed dependency on drugs to function and how frail he was near the end of his life -- and he certainly looks it here. But what comes through most in the film is his enormous talent. Also, his gentleness, which he uses to convey his ideas without a bull-in-a-china-shop attitude. The other people featured in the movie (dancers, musicians, etc.) are all enthusiastic, hard workers who feel privileged to be taking part in the concert.


The "Thriller" segments include some potentially scary images (people dressed up like decaying corpses/zombies, actors coming out of buried graves, floaty ghosts, etc.). It's not as intense as it would have been in 3-D (which was the plan for the concert), but young kids could easily be frightened. Another segment includes images of a destroyed rainforest burning and a young girl being threatened by a large tractor-like machine.


Some suggestive dancing and plenty of Jackson's signature crotch-grabbing during choreography/dance scenes. Some dancers are scantily clad in a few sequences, but it's mostly for the sake of ease of movement.


A couple of uses of the word "booty."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this hugely anticipated Michael Jackson concert movie is age-appropriate for King of Pop fans in the older tween range and up. Expect a few of Jackson's standard suggestive dance moves (there's plenty of crotch-grabbing, for instance) and some potentially scary images (especially during a new, over-the-top "Thriller" sequence), but there's no swearing, drinking, smoking, or violence. Although the film chronicles the singer's rehearsals in the weeks and months before his death, the event itself (and the surrounding media circus) isn't specifically mentioned. Directed by High School Musical's Kenny Ortega, it's a compelling and even surprising look at Jackson's final days; any hint of exploitative ghoulishness is quickly dispelled by scenes of a talented performer who was still very much on his game.

What's the story?

Between March and June of 2009, months before he died, Michael Jackson prepped for a sold-out, 50-date run of London concerts that was to have catapulted him back onstage. MICHAEL JACKSON'S THIS IS IT captures the King of Pop in rehearsals in the weeks and months leading up to his death, running through his best-loved hits (including "Billie Jean," "Beat It," "Thriller," "Man in the Mirror," "Smooth Criminal," and many more), finessing his act, and filming 3-D segments to be screened onstage during his concerts. It's a study of an artist at work, honing his craft in preparation of a big day that would ultimately never come.

Is it any good?


There's been much controversy about This Is It: Is it a worthy homage, a tasteless exploitation, or something in between? Should it have been made at all? When the King of Pop is first glimpsed onstage in segments shot for a a then-planned behind-the-scenes documentary, he looks frail and emaciated (and it is, to be honest, disturbing). But all of that falls away within minutes as it becomes clear that Jackson, even so close to the end, still had that indefinable thing that made him gloriously, insanely famous: talent, and plenty of it. Sure, he doesn't always sing at full force (except for a song or two); and yes, his dancing isn't as energetic. Jackson alludes to his need to hold back during rehearsals and conserve himself for curtain time (as many entertainers do), which is most likely why he was only performing at 75 percent -- but what a 75 percent it is.

Audiences will never know fully the demons that haunted Jackson off stage, but what's clear from This Is It is that when he was on stage, it was all about the work. Watching him discuss the need to let a particular moment in a song "simmer" speaks volumes about his vision and how he still knew what he wanted out of his act -- and strove tirelessly to get it. Had he been able to pull the tour off, it would've been epic.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why Jackson still mesmerizes so many people after all this time. Was it his talent or the mystery of his persona? Or both?

  • In the film, Jackson seems to have a different demeanor from the way he usually appeared in public. Does this show that he cultivated a certain image? How do you think his enormous fame affected his personal life? Do you consider him a role model?

  • There's been some backlash connected to the movie. Is it, as some critics have said, exploitative? Or a testament to Jackson's legacy?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 28, 2009
DVD release date:January 26, 2010
Cast:Michael Jackson
Director:Kenny Ortega
Studio:Sony Pictures
Topics:Music and sing-along
Run time:112 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:some suggestive choreography and scary images

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Kid, 11 years old April 24, 2010

I loved it! It is also a great movie!

I think this movie was the best! It had Michael's hit songs and his epic dance moves! The only part that may frighten kids is the Thriller part, but nothing else can frighten kids... I sung to all of the songs and was literally dancing in my movie seat! I loved this move... :)
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Parent Written byCooldee April 19, 2010

A great concert film for ages 11 and up.

Michael Jackson is not a child molestor! Leave him alone!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Adult Written byLowe's man January 6, 2014

a must for any Michael Jackson fan

Some kids think well into their teenage years that rock singers, rodeo cowboys, circus performers and other entertainers have jobs that are all just fun and games. Nothing could be further from the truth. This movie will show kids the hard work that people in such jobs must go through. This is particularly true for those who perform with such big stars as Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood, as people expect more from them than they do from lesser known singers. Since this movie shows that Michael Jackson had some health problems in the months leading up to his death, his death will start to make some sense (although it will never make complete sense, especially when you consider that Dr. Conrad Murray (who's not mentioned in the movie) committed medical malpractice). While the star's death is not mentioned, viewers will be able to make connections. Obvious is Jackson's pride in his work and his desire to please his fans, which would've shown through on the tour had it been able to go on. With that he and his image would've made a comeback, to say nothing of the revenue which would've enabled Jackson to pay off his debts. His performances during rehearsal were undeniably good.


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