Get On Up, tells the incredible life story of one of the most legendary and influential artists of all time, The Godfather of Soul himself, Mr. James Brown. We get to witness an inside look of the ferocious moods, powerful moves and fantastic music that made this man such a household name throughout the world.
The film takes us on a journey from Brown’s early life where he is raised by a financially stricken and abusive family. After an encounter with Bobby Byrd (another legendary soul singer) in prison, Byrd and his family take Brown under their wing. Brown joins Byrd’s group, The Famous Flames, as the lead singer and never looks back. We continue the adventure through Brown’s life jumping back and forth into key points in his life from meeting his manager Ben Bart, to cutting his 1st record deal, his battle with Byrd over whether Byrd can be a lead singer to the birth of his first child with his first wife Velma. James Brown’s life was full of ups and downs so this film covers a multitude of stories.
Directed by four-time academy award nominated Tate Taylor (The Help), he really tries to capture the essence of Brown throughout, however some major key points of his life are missed out, like his role as a social activist. Why? We’re not sure, maybe it’s because people these days aren’t so caught up in what a star of his magnitude believed in, don’t forget we live in an age of materialism, gossip, vanity and downright shallowness, so portraying the social activist side of Brown may not have brought in the audience they were aiming for? Or could it just be there was just too much of Brown’s life to fit into just over 2 hours of film?
The casting is pure genius, Chadwick Boseman as Brown is simply electric. I don’t want to compare his performance to Ray Foxx’s performance as Ray Charles in the film Ray but boy it’s on the same level. Foxx won an award for Best Actor for that role and I truly believe Boseman should be rewarded in the same manner; He truly is the star of this film. I hope to think Brown would have been proud. Also gracing the film is the star of the film The Help, Octavia Spencer, this woman’s acting ability never fails to impress me. We also have the amazing Jill Scott (who I just adore), playing Brown’s 2nd wife Dee Dee Brown alongside the likes of Aloe Blacc, Dan Aykroyd, Viola Davis to list is just too long. I don’t think anyone would have turned away from appearing in this film.
Laced with an exceptional soundtrack of Brown’s music , Get On Up takes us on a tantalizing, surprising journey of both sin and grace for anyone who has a major love of exceptional music, it delivers a whole lotta soul.