Monday, November 17, 2014

Get On Up Review

Monday, November 17, 2014

Director: Tate Taylor
Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Nelsan Ellis, Octavia Spencer, Viola Davis, Dan Aykroyd, Keith Robinson
Running Time: 139 minutes
Rating: 12A

In case you have been living under a rock for the last 40 years, Get On Up documents the life and times of The Godfather of Soul himself, James Brown. It follows him for his poverty stricken child hood all the way to his world wide success.

The Butterworth Brothers' script leaves no stone unturned in the James Brown story. We are thrown back and forth, going from childhood to modern day, with the occasional break of the fourth might sound like a big mess on paper, but it does work...or maybe it is the fact that an even bigger mess takes your attention off it.

That bigger mess we are talking about is its watered down version of events in James Brown's life. Obviously trying its best to get a rating that will make it viable to cinema goers, moments like his drug abuse and the fact that he used to beat his wife (to quote his daughter Yamma in her book "Cold Sweat": My father never beat us, but sometimes I think a beating would have been less hurtful than hearing the sounds of him using my mother as his punching bag) are only on screen for mere seconds. While those moments are still in the narrative, the overly stylised film pushes into glamourisation, with the musical moments being pushed to overshadow the dark parts, and you have to question if whether this is down to the creative team just being too wussy to actually delve into the emotional turmoil.

Not surprisingly the cast save the movie, and it's a who's who on the biggest names in the acting and music world at the moment. We could give you a ten page essay about just how great Chadwick Boseman is in this role, but go to the cinema to see for yourself. At 31, he has made a career of being a character actor with all of his biggest movie releases to date being about a real life person, and it would not surprise us if we see an Academy award nomination in the mist (Jamie Fox did it for Ray after all...). He has a great cast behind him too, people like Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer who steal the show with their minimal minutes on screen, but the biggest surprise of the whole film has to be Nelsan Ellis. Known for his role as the larger than life Lafayette on HBO's True Blood, Ellis' performance as Bobby Byrd is the most intriguing of all, waiting for him to snap through out all of his Brown's antics. Ellis has been a completely understated actor in his career, but this will most definitely get him the recognition he deserves.

Get On Up has everything going for it: a stellar cast, a great director and an incredible soundtrack, but it pushes itself away from being five star amazing due to the fact they tip-toe around emotional parts of the story. But hopefully Get On Up will be the stepping stone for audiences to research the not so Hollywood version of Brown.


Get On Up is released in UK cinemas November 21st. 

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