Get On Up

Here we have (finally!) the thrilling biography of a musical icon. Director Tate Taylor ("The Help") brings us a familiar rags to riches (to rags to riches...) show business story that describes the (sanitized) life and times of James Brown (1933/2006), one of the most influential musicians in recent history.

Here are some of the top-notch actors:
  • Chadwick Boseman ("42") as James Brown, a dirt-poor survivor of a brutal childhood, part of it spent in a brothel. His gospel roots helped launch him into the spotlight where he soon learned how much money went to the middlemen. Watch his reaction when they ask his permission to book an unknown band, "The Rolling Stones," to open for one of his shows. BTW Mick Jagger is one of the producers of this movie.
  • Nelsan Ellis ("Lee Daniels' The Butler") is Bobby Byrd, a stalwart friend who understands "Mr. Brown."
  • Dan Aykroyd ("Tammy") is Brown's cagey manager Ben Bart, who describes himself as, "A lucky old Jew."
  • Viola Davis ("The Help") Susie Brown was a teenager when she gave birth to James. She knew nothing about marriage or babies and had no job skills to survive on her own. To say he is conflicted about her is a mild understatement.
  • Octavia Spencer ("Snowpiercer") Aunt Honey can see that little James has no one to believe in, so she urges him to believe in himself.
Expect some violent situations along with PG-13 profanity, a mild car chase, a bit of drug use and one "F" bomb, but LOTS of performances from Paris to Cincinnati, studded with the dazzling footwork and trademark wail we associate with James Brown. Boseman must have worked long and hard to master THAT one; he is amazing!

It's fun to watch the music businessmen try to grasp the appeal of this rebellious master of funk. His only value to them is his money-making potential. He understands that each person has his own area of expertise; for example, he doesn't advise the Army how to fight the war in Vietnam and he suggests that they not tell him how long his concert may last. (And that successful record company executive can NOT do the Mashed Potato, but he sure can sell records!)

You will like the occasions when Brown shares his beliefs: Once with his son's classmates and another time during the concert that was held (over the mayor's objections) the day after Martin Luther King Jr.'s death. After traveling the highs (stardom and acclaim) and the lows (drug use and jail time), the screening audience was pumped!
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Here is a preview:
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