Get On Up…


Get On Up and go see the James Brown movie.

I can’t promise that the last 20 minutes are riveting. It suffers from wanting to reprise most of Brown’s life story in a herky jerky manner…it should adhere to less is more, but it is a fascinating look at his incredible life.

Get On Up is based on the life story of the Godfather of Soul and provides a fearless look inside the music, moves and moods of James Brown. The journey spans Brown’s life from extreme poverty, abandonment, an unjust jail sentence for stealing a suit out of a parked car to becoming one of the most influential cultural and political figures of the 20th century.

His early years were grueling. Brown’s mother, Susie played by Viola Davis, abandoned him and Madame, Aunt Honey (Octavia Spencer) took him in and immediately turned him loose as a juvenile solicitor, but they both believed he was special. “The Spirit Was In Him,” and Brown hung tough and proved them right…Amen.

For a kid who lacked proper schooling he certainly demonstrated that he had endlessly salable talent and a mind for business.

He personified “Show” and “Business” as is evidenced in his pioneering concept of hooking up with local DJ’s for independent promotion (can you say payola) in order to not give away the gate to established promoters.

Chadwick Boseman as James Brown  Photo:
Chadwick Boseman as James Brown Photo:

The director of the award winning film, The Help, Tate Taylor directs 42‘s Chadwick Boseman as James Brown in Get on Up. Boseman’s performance is electric, his moves dynamic.

Brown’s originality, dance moves and his influence on Mick Jagger, Michael Jackson, David Bowie, Prince, Public Enemy and even Springsteen are glaringly evident. Rolling Stone named Brown #7 on their list of the Most Influential Artists of All Time. 

Producers Mick Jagger and Brian Glazer  Photo:
Producers Mick Jagger and Brian Glazer

Another performance worth noting is Nelsan Ellis’ portrayal of Brown’s sidekick, Bobby Byrd. It is outstanding and a mirror into Brown’s complex r&b soul.

Chadwick Boseman, Nelsan Ellis  Photo: AP
Chadwick Boseman, Nelsan Ellis

His story is definitely worth telling. It’s just too bad Taylor didn’t tailor the film and edit the last third.

I still think you should Get On Up off the couch and go see the movie if only for the musical performances…it’s funktastic.

The Real Godfather of Soul
The Real Godfather of Soul

Get On Up released on August 1st, 2014. Running time: 138 minutes.

Check out the trailer for Get On Up

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