Hi everyone, Bryan here….
The most popular and well-known man in the world was and maybe still is Michael Jackson. He had fans all over the world and inspired not only the common folk, but many great musicians over the past 30 years years. Michael Jackson won tons of awards for his music, produced and created some of the best songs ever made, delivered the best music videos, and started a big charity called Heal the World. His life was in the tabloids constantly with hideous scum people making up stories that forced him to be a recluse for most of his life. He was just a man who became a father to three kids and when he was pushing 50 years old, he was more or less forced to perform 50 concerts as a way to make ends meet and provide for his family. Much has been said over the many years about Michael Jackson.
Numerous books and movies and television shows have been made on his account, detailing parts of his life. Back in 2014, several years after he passed away, his two main bodyguards Bill Whitfield and Javon Beard wrote a book called ‘Remember the Time: Protecting Michael Jackson in His Final Days‘, which is what the title reads literally. The Lifetime Network purchased the rights and now we have this TV Movie based on the book, which is surprisingly good, tragic, and heartwarming all in one mixed bag. Those final months or couple of years before Michael was killed by his own doctor, he was set on just being a father to his kids and keeping them safe from the public.
Bill Whitfield was a bodyguard who was hired by Jackson, who overtime became his dear friend. Soon after Whitfield was hired, he knew he needed help and hired Javon Beard, again became close friends with Michael and his kids – – both of who basically became the kid’s uncles and to Jackson great friends. ‘Searching for Neverland‘ tells the story from the bodyguard’s perspective and is even narrated by Chad L. Coleman (The Walking Dead, The Wire) who plays Whitfield. After the initial shock of working for Michael Jackson, Whitfield and Beard quickly realize that Jackson is in constant danger and not just from his fans or people on the street, but from his own family. For the most part, life is fun and normal for the king of pop and his bodyguards, but a trip to the mall with the kids in town prove that a mob of people are always constantly wanting a piece of him.
Another scene shows Michael’s relationship with his family, which is turbulent to say the least. When his father Joe shows up at the front gate, Whitfield has to tell him to make an appointment to see his own son. When Michael’s younger brother Randy shows up and rams through the gate with his car and demands money, you can see the toll it takes on Michael in that he can’t even trust family. Meanwhile, you see that Michael really wants to retire and be a good father as he looks for a new home, but one of his managers tells him in order to afford the home he wants, he needs to do the 50 concerts in London, which he constantly tells Beard and Whitfield he is too old to perform like that anymore. It’s truly heartbreaking to watch it unfold on screen. This film also shows us how much Michael truly hated cameras, no matter where they were, and he would have panic attacks if he saw one.
On the other hand, he looked to always be a good parent and always wanted to take care of his kids and provide for them the best way he could. There is a rather funny scene where Michael and his kids were at a movie, where Whitfield narrates that you can say that Michael is a white guy, but that anyone who brings his own spray butter and hot sauce for popcorn to the movies is black, ghetto, and hood for life. It was a real moment and that made us all bond with Michael at that point. You also see his spending habits, which were asinine as he walks through a toy store for Christmas, which was much to his bodyguard’s dismay as they hadn’t been paid in several months, but were working still, because they had become attached to the singer and genuinely loved him. As the film comes to its final moments, you see how Michael’s attitude changed because of all the drugs he was on and that he let go of his two bodyguards and hired a strict Islamic force to tend to him, who of course didn’t have his best interests in hand. We know how the rest went.
A guy who goes by Navi plays Michael Jackson, who in real life – is a notable Michael Jackson tribute performer and does a great job with all of Michael’s mannerisms, walks, and body language. Navi’s voice mostly mimics Michael’s and at other times, it seems fake. Still, there are many moments where you think it’s actually Michael on screen. Chad L. Coleman also does an amazing job as the bodyguard as he tries to keep his calm and coolness in even the most chaotic situations. You just feel safe with the guy.
‘Michael Jackson: Searching for Neverland‘ is a lovely, yet tragic look at the final months of Michael Jackson and I believe it doesn’t take sides on whether Michael was good or bad, but rather it’s like a fly on the wall scenario as two normal outsiders got a glimpse of what Michael was trying to do, which was just be a good dad.