This 2014 biopic directed by Tate Taylor(The Help) and produced by Brian Glazer and Mick Jagger, chronicles the life of Soul Brother #1, The Godfather of Soul, The hardest working man in show business, Mr. James Brown.
As a huge James Brown fan I was at first very worried about a feature length film about Brown being done, not from the musical standpoint because I knew they would get the licenses to use his real music in the film and which ever actor portrayed him could lip sync, Angela Bassett in What’s Love Got To Do With it is a good example.
My biggest problem would be which every actor that was cast would have too dance like James Brown, which would be a problem because of any entertainer James Brown is the only one that I can think of that his dance is simply called “The James Brown” and everyone can’t just do the James Brown dance.
Chadwick Boseman was cast as James Brown and once again I was very worried because not to long before he played another famous person Jackie Robinson in 42, I didn’t care to watch 42 not because didn’t think it would be a bad movie or anything, just that with everything that I’ve learned about Jackie Robinson over the years I knew I wouldn’t really learn anything new seeing that movie so I past.
I finally watched Get On Up and I was very let down with what I saw, firstly there is a a very good cast of talent, Viola Davis, Lennie James, Octavia Spencer, Dan Aykroyd, Nelsan Ellis, Craig Robinson, Jill Scott, Aunjanue Ellis with the except of Nelsan Ellis everyone else were wasted here with most of their roles being glorified cameo appearances really.
Like I said earlier being a huge fan of James Brown I’ve watched documentaries that feature him Soul Power, Mr. Dynamite being two worth checking out,and have listened to countless songs of his, I was expecting to learn some stuff that I might not have known like what went on with his childhood and his mother(Viola Davis) leaving him and then coming back in his life once he became a huge star, all of that was glossed over moreso then anything.
Craig Robinson who plays Maceo Parker, might have been the second most featured member of the band of Bobby Byrd(Nelsan Ellis) but alot of the relationship that he and his brother had with James Brown were left out of the story or glossed over as well, also I was very disappointed that during none of the musical performances in the film, there is never any “Maceo, give me a little bit of that horn” which after probably calling out Bobby on songs Maceo name and solo were featured on alot of Brown songs.
One problem with the film is that instead of having a structured narrative It jumps around through the years to the point you as the viewer gets confused at exactly when things are taking place.
I will say that Chadwick Boseman is very impressive as James Brown as he nailed James speech perfectly which meant when he was just talking you couldn’t understand anything he was saying really, if you’ve seen interviews with James Brown then you know that’s how he talked when he wasn’t singing.
All in All if you’re someone who doesn’t really know anything about James Brown then this will be an ok film to watch, but if you are a fan and have seen other documentaries about him then this film isn’t for you outside of the musical scenes. which them in itself takes up more then enough of the runtime.
MY RATING 5/10
Chadwick Boseman-James Brown
Nelsan Ellis-Bobby Byrd
Dan Aykroyd-Ben Bart
Viola Davis-Susie Brown
Lennie James-Joe Brown
Craig Robinson-Maceo Parker
Jill Scott-DeeDee Brown
Octavia Spencer-Aunt Honey
Aunjanue Ellis-Vicki Anderson