Get On UP Review

Get On Up (PG-13)

Mike: Michael I:

Michael I:
Tonight we’re reviewing “Get on Up”, the biopic of the Godfather of Soul, James Brown. Mike, how did you like it?

Mike:
I loved this movie. The acting was tremendous. I enjoy James Brown’s music, but I realized I didn’t know much about him before this. I am a sucker for biopics about musicians.

What about you Mike?

Michael I:
I, too, was naive about Brown’s background. His heyday was far before my time — he rose back to prominence during my childhood in Rocky 4 — but I really enjoyed learning about him (if I can believe half of what this movie tells!)

Mike:
I know what you mean as far as what to believe. Usually after I watch one of these movies, I start doing some research to see what is real and what is Hollywood. I didn’t get a chance to yet.

Michael I:
Well, what is real are the performances!

Mike:
I did realize, though, that I do not have enough James brown on my iPod!

Michael I:
Ditto!

Mike:
This is our second movie with Chadwick Boseman. He was in Draft Day and did a standout job in 42 as Jackie Robinson. This performance moves him up to the world of Oscar talk.

Michael I:
Boseman’s a phenomenal talent! I don’t like to compare actors, but he’s a tour de force. I’m really looking forward to seeing him in the future beyond the biopics.

Mike:
This man became James Brown. Even to the point where when he plays James as an old man, I thought they might have needed subtitles. Older james Brown is liking listening to Ozzie Osborne.

You think you know what he said, but you’re not sure.

Maybe there is something about playing a real person that raises an actor’s game. Both Jamie Foxx and Joaquim Phoenix surprised me when they played Ray Charles and Johnny Cash, respectively.

Michael I:
Well, when portraying real people, the actors have someone to emulate for their performance. A bad impression is a bad impression and I’m glad that Boseman won the part. No one wants to hear complaints from diehard fans that the actor didn’t live up to the legend they’re portraying!

Mike:
I think the focus of my review is this cast.

Michael I:
But Boseman isn’t the only star — though it was difficult to steal a scene from him.

Mike:
Nelsan Ellis is the reason that I watched true Blood as long as I did. His character Lafayette was a highlight of the show and he wasn’t even a vampire.

Here he plays long time friend and band mate Bobby Byrd and he holds his own with Boseman.

Michael I:
Dan Aykroyd, Viola Davis, Octavia Spenser and Craig Robinson also play key parts.

Mike:
I was surprised and pleased to see Dan Aykroyd as Ben “Pop” Bart.

I think director Tate Taylor was able to call on some of his friends from The Help to round out this cast. I am thrilled anytime I get a chance to see Viola Davis or Octavia Spencer, but seeing them both together again was a thrill.

Michael I:
It’s not often that I see Aykroyd on camera anymore, but this was a perfect part for him. And I had no idea that Brown and Bart revolutionized concert promoting.

Mike:
Yes, which leads in to a shout out to our own Richmond, Virginia of the 1950s.

Michael I:
Which will always get a cheap pop from the audience!

Mike:
Davis’s part is not large, but there is a scene between her and Boseman that will lodge in your brain.

In fact, I think this is a movie that will stick ith you for days after you’ve seen it.

Michael I:
It was a good learning experience, especially spanning from Brown’s extreme poverty as a child to his drug fueled car chase later in life. Though I feel that there was more to delve into that may have gotten glossed over. It is already a bit of a lengthy movie.

Mike:
I agree. You mentioned that some of it was probably glossed over. This is a celebration of Brown, highlighting his successes. Which I prefer to the constant warts and all storytelling of the Behind the Music variety. That being said, there are some jarring moments. especially those focusing on his poor upbringing in the depression era, segregated south.

Michael I:
As entertaining as Brown was, this film depicted him as a driven egomaniac, which is what you would expect, however I feel that I was watching a sob story. The viewing audience was so in love with his character that they laughed during a domestic violence scene. I’m surprised that the studio didn’t pick up on that during testing.

Mike:
So Mike, how would you rate this?

Michael I:
I’m giving this a 4 out of 5. The acting, direction, and story was very good. It was a bit long and I expected more of a “rise, fall, redemption” story arc, which didn’t happen. I blame it on myself for expecting that formula, though. Bottom line, if you’re a fan of pop culture, you’re going to want to see this movie.

Mike, how would you rate it?

Mike:
I give this movie a 4 out of 5. I was a fan of James Brown’s music, but I didn’t realize how interesting his life was. This movie is worth seeing just for the acting. Fortunately the story is compelling and I like the fact that it is told in a non linear fashion. With all the flashbacks, there are a lot of threads, but by the end they are all tied up in satisfying fashion.

Michael I:
The non-linear format may confuse some viewers, but I think it was the best way to reveal some of the most
dramatic parts of his life in a traditional narrative.

The movie is on the long side, but if you’re like me you won’t even notice.

Get On Up image
Official Site

Director: Tate Taylor

Actors: : Chadwick Boseman, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Nelsan Ellis, Lennie James, Jill Scott, Dan Aykroyd

Writers: Steve Baigelman, Jez Butterworth, John Butterworth, Tate Taylor

Theatrical Release Date: Aug. 1, 2014

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