"Who's weird now?" asks Michael Jackson in his new, 38-minute film
Ghosts, which had its world premiere here early Friday (May 9)
No points for getting the answer to that question right. You're
weird, Mikey. Still. And likely forever, judging from this extremely
self-indulgent effort from the self-styled King Of Pop.
The hordes of
serious film critics here to cover the festival under the palms are certain to
give Peter Pan's latest effort a pan of their own. But Jacko still has his
fans. Hundreds of black-tied fans screamed his name as Jackson made his way up
the red-carpeted stairs of the Palais des Festivals for the premiere. And
hundreds of others, also in penguin suits, tried to scam seats for the hottest
ticket in town.
While the crowds who couldn't get in (only 2,300
hand-picked fans and journalists were given the privilege) were broken-hearted,
it's certain they didn't miss much.
Ghosts opens with a mob of angry
parents, led by the Mayor of Normal, up to an eerie hilltop mansion, where they
plan to confront its occupant. Seems the owner, Ol' Wacko Jacko himself, has
been scaring their kids. And dammit, they're not going to take it
As Jacko opens the door...
As Jacko opens the door to the spookhouse, the Mayor tells
him what everyone else in the world thinks. "You're weird, and you're strange
and I don't like you. And you're scaring these kids," he says. "It's back to
the circus with you."
Smiling benignly, Jacko offers to take his uninvited
guests on a little tour of his carnival funhouse. We get the usual assortment
of dancing ghouls, ghosts and grotesqueries, the requisite morphings and
special effects. But from Jackson's own "Black Or White" and "The Man In The
Mirror," we've seen it all before, and the "Thriller" is gone.
obviously not forgotten. Jacko's not content to steal from himself,
particularly the moonwalking and zombie dancing of his "Thriller" video, but he
borrows (?) heavily from cultural refers like old Twilight Zone episodes and
Jim Carrey's The Mask.
As Jackson brings out each new cheap trick to
frighten his visitors, he asks them, "Are you scared yet?" But the only thing
the mayor and his constituents look worried about is that their roles in this
flaccid piece of wasted film aren't over yet.
It doesn't take a PhD in
psychology to figure out that this film is the Gloved One's answer to
accusations of weirdness generally and child molestation specifically. He can't
seem to answer the charges as a man, offering this flimsy allegory to the world
Sorry, Mikey, we're not buying it. As a film, Ghosts
doesn't cut it. As a showcase for your singing and dancing, it's a ghostly
imitation of "Thriller." And as an explanation of your weirdness, it's a
skeletally meager offering, two years too late.
Ghosts is directed
by Academy Award-winning American Stan Winston, from an "original idea" by
Stephen King and Jackson himself. Excuse me, but did I get this right? It took
two people to come up with this lame retooling of "Thriller"? Better leave the
movies to movie folk, Mikey. Cannes is no place for you. The circus is the
place for you.