The Jacksons are your average working-class family in Gary, Indiana; but when their father discovers the kids have an extraordinary musical talent they form a band. Winning talent show ...
See full summary »
The story of Little Richard Penniman, from his poor Southern upbringing to dealing with the trials and tribulations of being a black singer in the 1950s, to his born-again phase and brief "retirement" from rock and roll.
Based on the novel by Gloria Naylor, which deals with several strong-willed women who live in a rundown housing project on Brewster Place in an unidentified eastern city; across three ... See full summary »
The Jacksons are your average working-class family in Gary, Indiana; but when their father discovers the kids have an extraordinary musical talent they form a band. Winning talent show after talent show they soon hit it big when Motown calls. From there they become the now famous Jackson 5. But along the way their success brings trouble and turmoil Written by
Tony Meier <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This two-part miniseries (long enough to be a week-long miniseries if each episode was an hour), was at times overly dramatic, somewhat lacking in humor and even kind-of depressing. Still, it's one of the best music bios ever.
The absolute best thing about this piece is Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs. Hilton-Jacobs captures the menace of the notorious Joseph Jackson. He is a father you would NOT want to disobey. On the other hand, he brings a level of humanity and respectability, sometimes even likability to the role that makes it a three-dimensional character. In many music bios, it's hard to believe they're talking about real people (exhibit A: The Doors), but not here. Hilton-Jacobs expresses Jackson's deep, cutting flaws, but also the good things about him.
As for the bigger stars in the two-parter, Vanessa Williams is likable as Susan de Passe: a Motown employee who believes so much in the boys that she convinces Berry Gordy to hear them. Billy Dee Williams is likable as Gordy, but he comes off as a saintly carefree sort. Angela Basset also excelled as the boys' mother: willing to sacrifice her goals and dreams for the sake of the family.
All three actors who played Michael were also fantastic. It's so sad that Wylie Draper died so soon after this movie came out. He really captured Michael as well as anybody could. He reminds the viewer of what people saw in Michael in the early 80s. Alex Burral and Jason Weaver also performed great as Michael, especially during the music scenes. The actors who played Michael's brothers fared also. While it clearly centers around Michael, it goes to great lengths not to make the other boys second-bananas (the only one who isn't explored much is Janet, ironically, because her fame rivals that of Michael in real life).
Speaking of the music scenes, they are almost all very well done. The scenes where they appear to be lipsynching songs (such as when they record "I'll Be There" are done pretty well, but when the actors (presumably) get to handle it on their own, it really comes alive, whether it's the kids singing old r&b classics toward the beginning, or the final concert scene at the end with a lively version of "The Love You Save."
All in all, great music and great acting make this movie one of the best rock bios of all.
7 of 9 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?