Last week’s sad death of Michael Jackson has all of us in the MTV newsroom working overtime these days, for obvious reasons. We already ran a story on MJ’s direct influence in movies and TV including “The Wiz” and “The Simpsons.” What’s even more impressive is the movies he inspired without even appearing in them.
Below are ten classic film moments that would not exist if Michael Jackson never moonwalked across our planet and into out hearts. What’s your favorite?
“Back to the Future” trilogy
In “Back to the Future Part II,” we got a peek at the theme restaurants of 2015 via an order-taking television with a “waiter” hybrid of MJ and Max Headroom. In the trilogy's final entry, set in the Old West, Marty McFly avoids getting shot by moonwalking away from some evil cowboys.
“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”
Although Johnny Depp denied that the King of Pop was an influence, it’s impossible to look at his Willy Wonka and not think of Michael Jackson. The high cheekbones, the lilting speech, even the factory itself, a child-friendly playland which begs comparisons to Jackson's own Neverland Ranch. The proof, as Willy might say, is in the chocolate pudding.
“Beverly Hills Cop”
It’s a quick joke, but a classic one. Shortly after arriving in Los Angeles, Detroit detective Axel Foley walks down the street and passes some men dressed in Michael Jackson-inspired jackets, thinking they’re on the cutting edge of fashion. Axel cracks up, and reminds us all that only one man could pull off that look.
“Rush Hour” series
In the original “Rush Hour,” Chris Tucker’s detective James Carter celebrated a badass moment by delivering some pitch-perfect MJ moves. To take his love one step further, Tucker performed a karaoke version of “Don’t Stop” in the sequel, then opened “Rush Hour 3” with an expanded Jacko tribute.
Back in 1983, the only person as hot as MJ may have been Eddie Murphy. That's why audiences howled when the then-edgy comedian dared to refer to Michael as “not the most masculine fellow in the world,” unleashing an impersonation-heavy riff on MJ’s unusual sexiness in the hit stand-up film. Tito, get us some tissue.
“Scary Movie 3”
During a spoof of “The Others,” (and a not-too-subtle dig at Michael’s then-recent troubles with child molestation allegations) Charlie Sheen walks into his daughter’s bedroom and discovers a hidden MJ under a sheet in this 2003 David Zucker comedy. In the ensuing hilarious fight sequence, the Jackson impersonator uses his dance moves to fend off Sheen before he dangles the King of Pop out a window and says “Let’s see how you like it!”
Back in the early 90s, this heart-tugging tale of a young boy and his Orca friend was a bona fide phenomenon. The fad was fueled in no small part by MJ’s “Will You Be There?,” an emotional theme he recorded for the film’s end credits. It won a 1994 “Best Song in a Movie” Golden Popcorn trophy at the MTV Movie Awards. In the years to come, MJ would compose songs for the film’s two sequels as well.
In the instantly famous “Walk-Off” scene, Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson settle their differences to a “Beat It” track remixed by Moby. Talk about model behavior.
“Dream a Little Dream 2”
Eighties icon Corey Feldman was one of Michael Jackson’s closest friends. And, as die-hard fans recall, the straight-to-video star once paid tribute to his hero with an ill-advised dance sequence inspired by the King of Pop.
“13 Going on 30”
Which is your favorite Michael Jackson-inspired movie moment? Any that we missed?