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James Brown: The Hardest working man in Show Business

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Get On Up (film)


Get On Up: Rated PG-13” (2 hour, 18 minutes)

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Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Nelsan Ellis, Lennie James

Directed by: Tate Taylor

Without a doubt, James Brown is universally considered the Godfather of Soul, and Tate Taylor’s energetic, film brings that to life in a way that those of us who appreciated but never actually got to experience Brown’s awesome funk. The film bounces back and forth from Brown’s later life (when things weren’t going so well for him), to his childhood in the deep south (when things didn’t happen too well for him), to his middle years as he rose to the top of the musical charts, and was truly the The Hardest Working Man in Show Business. The film relates the incredible life story of James Brown, giving us a fearless look inside the music, moves and moods of Brown, and takes the audiences on a roller-coaster journey from his impoverished childhood to his evolution into one of the most influential musical figures of the 20th century.

One has to imagine that even though this film purports to show Brown, warts-and-all that it glosses over certain aspects of what it was like to be James Brown. Still Boseman (42, Draft Day) does an amazing job of replicating not only the look, and speech patterns of Brown, but his signature moves as well. And then there is the music. Many of Brown’s classic tunes populate this cinematic experience as Brown and his various bands move from a gospel group performing in church to a top Billboard hit performing at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. (Especially fun was his his early encounter with Little Richard (Brandon Smith.)

If you are a fan of Brown’s music, if you never heard of Brow or music (you should be ashamed of yourself), if you were only a passing fan of his, if you have any understanding or knowledge of the music scene at all, this is the kind of film that you really want to go out and see as you will wind up exiting the theater snapping your fingers and with a bounce in your step. So go, in a summer full with superheroes and aliens, this film is something of a breath of fresh air.


Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing films for some 30 years. During that time, his movie reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web. Subscribe to receive regular articles and movie reviews.


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