While my childhood was one of many defined by what came next, as an adult I can’t really argue with anyone who feels ‘Off the Wall’ is a superior album. Spike’s documentary captures all the reasons why.
As the title suggests, the first half covers the journey and how (absurd as it sounds now), Michael Jackson was having a hard time figuring out how to be taken seriously. He was the bubblegum kid singer, he was the novelty at the front of the novelty act the Jackson 5. As (a nice interview choice here) Kobe Bryant explained, young Mike was a hardcore student of his craft. Not just studying Sammy Davis Jr’s moves, and James Brown’s moves, but how the industry treated them as black stars.
After ‘the Jacksons’ became a success after leaving Motown, it was time. The concert footage really captures why ‘Rock With You’ is one of my favorite videos. No one (in all the good and bad ways) was more theatrical than Michael Jackson, but he could blow you away with nothing but the microphone in his hand. A great vocalist.
The last third of the film is the track by track breakdown. Everyone from Questlove to his brothers, to Stevie Wonder breaking down ‘the last great disco record.’ Rock With You. Off the Wall. She’s Out of My Life. I Can’t Help It. Turn this Disco Out.
Yep, that album still holds up. So does this doc.
Was a Showtime exclusive for a long time, now you can rent it on iTunes and I assume your other digital channels.