After the record-breaking, era-defining success of Thriller, Michael Jackson knew that whatever came next had to be a big, bold personal statement as well as a pop-music spectacle. The result was Bad—Jackson’s smash 1987 album that accomplished both goals and then some. Spike Lee’s documentary on the King of Pop’s last great work hits its marks, talks to all the right people (as well as, for good measure, Kanye West and Justin Bieber) and charts how each song went from a vague musical idea to a complex, full-formed song. But while Lee reminds you that he’s a skilled, vastly underrated documentarian—a montage of collaborators recounting and reacting to Jackson’s 2009 passing is a study in collective grief—this is little more than an episode of VH1’s Classic Albums writ large. You’ll learn everything you ever wanted to know about the making of this chart-topping behemoth—except for insights about the man in the mirror who created it.
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