You may have heard him called “The hardest working man in show business” or “The Godfather of Soul,” but James Brown will always be remembered as one of a kind. The man possessed talents beyond measure and some of his demons were just as big. His life story comes to the big screen in the form of “Get on Up.” Chadwick Boseman, who last year helped bring Jackie Robinson to life, takes on the story of the iconic James Brown and completely brings it home!
“Get on Up” covers the life of James Brown, from when he lived in a shack with his father (his mother, played by Viola Davis, left the family) to his early days of singing in the group, The Famous Flames, to when he reached the heights of his career. There were low points too. However, the story is not told in a linear fashion. The movies jumps back and fourth in time to cover James Brown’s life to the point where you may feel discombobulated.
Chadwick Boseman is the big story here. It feels like it would be impossible to adequately cover how outstanding he as Brown. He has the voice down to the point where you could not always clearly understand what he was saying, like the real James Brown. He got all the moves down pat. He can dance like Mr. Brown; he can sing like Mr. Brown; and, thanks to some great makeup, he looks like him too. He played James Brown to such perfection, that you would believe that the real spirit of the singer took possession of Chadwick Boseman’s body.
Tate Taylor directed “Get on Up.” He was also the man who directed “The Help.” Besides Viola Davis, Allison Janney and Oscar winner Octavia Spencer are also in this cast and they all do terrific jobs. Nelsan Ellis, best known for his role on “True Blood” plays Bobby Byrd and is always able to stand toe-to-toe with Boseman in all their scenes together. Taylor is once again very solid in bringing this bio-picture together. Dan Akyroyd is in the movie too. He made some movies with James Brown and considered the man to be his friend. You can be sure he took his role in this movie with great pride.
The biggest complaint I have with “Get on Up” is the length. It is over two hours and fifteen minutes. The jumping about in the timeline might confuse some people, but the movie probably would not work if it were told it in a straightforward fashion. James Brown would probably think the movie was too short, but he demanded nothing but the best, especially from himself. It is rated PG-13 for sexual content, drug use, some strong language, and violent situations.