Director: Taylor Tate
Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Nelsan Ellis, Dan Aykroyd
Release Date: August 1, 2014
On Christmas Day in 2006 the world lost a true musical legend. James Brown went by many names, 'Soul Brother Number One', 'The Godfather of Funk', and 'Mr. Dynamite', but these nicknames belonged to Chadwick Boseman for 138 minutes while he took on the role of 'The Hardest Working Man in Show Business' in Taylor Tate's Get On Up. This is the third feature film Tate has been given the opportunity to direct with his last film being 2011's The Help which went on to be nominated for four Academy Awards: Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, and two nominations in Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role with Octavia Spencer winning the award. Boseman is no stranger either to playing a lead role in a bio-pic. In case you don't remember, he delivered a superb performance as Jackie Robinson in 42. The combination of Tate and Boseman deemed to be perfect as they gave fans a bio-pic that will make 'The Godfather of Soul' himself happy.
A biographical drama following the story of James Brown (Chadwick Boseman), the Godfather of Soul, showing his rise from poverty to extreme success. It shows how he rose from an his impoverished childhood to become a world famous and highly influential R&B musician with hits in the 1960s and '70s, becoming one of the most influential musical figures of the 20th century.
Get On Up happens to be the second bio-pic of a musical act that has graced the big screen this summer with the first being Jersey Boys. Where Jersey Boys fails, which happened to be in a lot of areas, Get On Up easily succeeds. Both films tell a story about a musical act that changed the music genre and both directors let their actors tell their story while breaking dialogue. That is where the pencil stops writing in the middle of the venn diagram of what these films have in common and starts working on what they did differently. The music in Jersey Boys never meshed with the rest of the film. It was the only true highlight but director Clint Eastwood never showed a connection to the music but instead drowned it out with plot points that should have received less focus.Get On Up on the other hand was wonderfully put together. Tate didn't focus on only the music but the man himself, James Brown. Using a jagged story telling method by jumping from different time periods of Brown's life and not necessarily in chronologically order, Tate was able to show us the ups and downs of Brown's life and career while giving us the songs and dance moves that we remember.
Tate's decision to use jagged storytelling for the film started off sour. We see an older James Brown walking towards the stage while different snippets of dialogue we will soon hear later in the film is playing. The next immediate scene skips to a younger James Brown in the scene before holding a gun at a seminar because one of its attendees used his bathroom. As soon as Brown hears sirens and makes a run for his car, the scene changes once more and goes to an adolescent Brown playing with his mother, Susie Brown (Viola Davis
), in the woods. This would be the last transition that would give you a dry taste. The scenes that follow all get very exciting with the first being of James Brown and his band's airplane getting shot at while landing in Vietnam. A clear chronological order was tossed out immediately, but there is a clear emotional order as all the scenes build up to show the viewers the emotional pain that the egotistical Brown experienced throughout his life as an artist.
It might be that bio-pics are Boseman's favorite films to work on, but he fails to disappoint so far. The voice we hear throughout the film singing James Brown's music belongs to the artist himself but the dance moves, oh the dance moves, that was all Boseman. Wherever Boseman slacked in lip singing, he made up with the dance moves. But the dance moves were not the only thing that was stellar about Boseman's performance. He captured the drive and ambition Brown had as a 16 years old all the way until his 60's.
It's hard to cover everything that happens in a man's life when he had a career that lasted five decades so obviously Tate had to leave some things out. A major chunk of that being Brown's legal and drug problems. I must admit, both of those topics were something I was hoping I got to learn more about. But Tate added enough in the film for the viewers to get an idea where Brown's mental health was heading towards late in his career, especially when there were scenes of him hitting his wife, adding angel dust to his joint and the second scene of the film in which Brown is holding a gun at a seminar. Overall, I was far from disappointed and I'm sure Get On Up is a film James Brown would be proud of. If you're a fan of Brown and his music than I suggest you go check this film out in theaters but other than that I would recommend you add this film to your DVD collection instead.
Labels: 2014, Chadwick Boseman, Dan Aykroyd, DVD, Get On Up, Movie Review, Nelsan Ellis, Taylor Tate