Bad 25
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Bad 25

Spike Lee pays laudatory tribute to the King of Pop.

Spike Lee (USA, Special Presentations)

Saturday, September 15, 9 p.m.
Ryerson Theatre (43 Gerrard Street East)

Sunday, September 16, 12 p.m.
Bloor Hot Docs Cinema (506 Bloor Street West)

Created to coincide with the 25th anniversary re-release of Michael Jackson’s 1987 follow-up to Thriller, Bad 25 finds Spike Lee in strict laudatory fan-service mode. Fortunately, with respect to an album like the gajillion-selling Bad, fans are in plentiful supply, and we count ourselves among them.

Revisiting the iconic record track by track, Lee lands interviews with key collaborators like producer Quincy Jones, engineer Bruce Swedien, and the choreographers who helped perfect the King of Pop’s (in)famous moves. Better still, cinematically speaking, Lee offers extended looks at the making of Jackson’s groundbreaking short films (don’t call them music videos), including Martin Scorsese’s subway platform dance battle for the title cut. Contemporary stars also chime in with tributes. Unsurprisingly, Kanye West has a particular fondness for “Dirty Diana.”

Equally unsurprisingly, Bad 25 is coy where controversy is concerned. In paying the merest lip service to the tragic side of Jackson’s fame, Lee’s doc verges on puffery. But it’s also thoroughly entertaining, and a vivid reminder that Bad is, irrefutably, a pop music masterpiece.