The previews for the James Brown Biopic "Get On Up" looked like an utter home run. To me it was one of those films that I had to see on opening day (and I did).
I like biography type movies where I know very little about the subject matter. For example, I loved the sports movie "Seabiscuit" about the legendary horse of the same name but didn't like "Secretariat". I knew nothing about the former and lots about the latter.
The star of this film, Chadwick Boseman, was the lead in "42" the recent biopic film on baseball icon Jackie Robinson which really didn't work for me as their wasn't much new knowledge to me in the film. Yet, I didn't know much about James Brown and why this film worked for me.
Best part of this movie was the tremendous about of screen time showing Brown performing and boy does he perform. His ridiculously high energy and passionate signature singing and dancing is very engaging. Whether in his earliest days playing what they called the chitlin circuit or when he was a worldwide star, those sections of the movie were tremendous
I totally felt I was watching James Brown and not the actor Mr. Boseman.
When I got home, 1st thing I did was to google to find out if indeed he sang all the songs (he did not). At no time did you think he was lip syncing which is amazing. I did learn they he spent several intense months training to do all the signature dance moves i ncluding James's legendary splits and trick with the mic stand.
The movie would flash back to his early hard days being raised in a pretty abusive home, little Mom in his life, in the deep south, tremendously impoverished. He essentially raised himself and that strength gave him his focus and drive to do things his own way as a singer/performer. He was nicknamed the Godfather of Soul for a reason and this film sure gives a good indication why. His role in history was most interesting to learn and his view on politics and the political winds.
The casting of Dan Ackroyd as jewish manager (Ben Bart) which became a deep and trusting friendship is terrific and Mr. Bart was about the only it consistently inside his inner circle. Plus any film that casts both Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis scores big with me.
Couple weird attempts at side stories like showing his abusive side or a scene with his son having a contagious skin ailment. Starts, stops and never reappears...waste of time.
Not sure of who came up with the idea of having Brown address the camera in the middle of a scene, extremely weird and useless. Thank goodness only happens a few times.
My only regret is that I didn't see this movie at the Mall where I think there would have been a much more alive audience. I remember seeing both "Rent" and "Dream Girls" their and the audience enthusiastic clapping at the end of most songs.
Middlebrook movie theatre radiated utter silence I believe due to that smaller screen.
I don't think this role captures the Academy's ideals for a great acting job. But I think Boseman totally captured this huge, historical artist during the time of much civil unrest and racism. Within short of this film, you fully believe 100% that you are watching James Brown. He totally captures "The Hardest Working Guy in Show Business"
Fun to learn what rock and roll icon helps produce this fine film while also casting himself and his band in an very important scene. Also great fun watching the evolution of Mr. Browns's Hair and famous pompadours.