Everyone has a list of movies that they are compelled to watch when they happen across them on TV – no matter how late it is, and no matter how much of it has already been shown. At or near the top of my own list is the immortal 1992 musical biopic, The Jacksons: An American Dream.
I don’t even care about the Jackson 5 all that much. I downloaded one of their greatest hits collections to my iPod, but that’s about it. So I’m at a loss to explain why I love this movie (originally a two-parter broadcast on ABC) so much. Maybe it’s the voyeur in me who loves getting a peek at the secret dysfunction of one of the most successful groups of the 1970s.
Sure, Tito and Jermaine Jackson may have had scores of prepubescent girls fawning over them, but when Joseph (brilliantly portrayed by Freddie “Boom Boom” Washington) told them to cut a switch, boy howdy they had to do it lickety-split!
There’s just so much classic stuff here – the Jacksons’ routine of hauling cinder blocks across the lawn for character-building (seems they didn’t haul enough); Billy Dee Williams’ great role as the super-suave, pseudo father figure, Berry Calriss…err, Berry Gordy; and of course the sure but steady erosion of Michael Jackson’s emotional stability – capped off by the infamous Pepsi Jheri Curl Conflagration of 1984.
Never mind that all of this takes place over five long hours – every minute is golden. And I can’t be the only one who feels that way, since multiple stations have aired the movie many times over the last 15 years. One day my dream will be realized, and the JAD (Jacksons American Dream) Network will be launched. Then it’ll be 24/7 melodramatic, soulful bliss. Shamon!