Flex Alexander's affecting performance in the lead role lifts Man in the Mirror
, an account of the troubled, turbulent adult life of Michael Jackson. And a grim, melodramatic, and sometimes way over-the-top tale it is, as the film chronicles the litany of catastrophes visited on Jackson since Thriller
turned him into the self-proclaimed King of Pop. It's all here: the Jehovah's Witnesses' horrified reaction to the supposedly blasphemous "Thriller" video (a disclaimer was added at their behest); the filming of the Pepsi commercial during which Jackson's hair caught on fire; the constant hectoring and bullying by his father, Joseph Jackson, and his subsequent alienation from his family; his many cosmetic surgeries; the debacle that was his marriage to Lisa Marie Presley; the controversial incident when he dangled his newborn son from his Berlin hotel room window; and, of course, the ongoing allegations of child molestation (to their credit, the filmmakers are fairly circumspect about the latter, neither condemning nor exonerating him). Through it all, Alexander plays Jackson as a true innocent, guileless and easily manipulated, wondering how the world can be so wicked ("What's wrong with love?" is a frequent refrain), and yet essentially kind, likable, and devoted to his fans. Alexander has Jackson's voice down, as well as some of his dance moves, and if Man in the Mirror
contains no actual Jackson songs or realistic performance footage, well, that's life in the low-budget world of made-for-TV movies (it originally aired in 2004 on VH-1). Man in the Mirror
hardly qualifies as great art, but in the end, it's nothing more, or less, than diverting, voyeuristic good fun. --Sam Graham
MAN IN THE MIRROR: THE MICHAEL JACKSON STORY portrays the glitz, glamour, fame and scandals associated with pop superstar Michael Jackson throughout the years. Without asserting his innocence or condemning his guilt, the film walks the fine line between comedy and drama as it portrays Jackson's rise to fame and infamy from the early "Thriller" era to the scandal filled present day. The objective tale provides a glimpse into the life of one of the most enigmatic and extravagant pop stars of our time and tells the story of the man who has enchanted and baffled the world for the 35 years.