DETROIT (WWJ) – This is sure to come as a surprise to a large number of people, so let me start my review by getting this out of the way now: “Get On Up” does an excellent job chronicling the amazing life story of James Brown. But – yes unfortunately, there is a “but” – it took awhile for leading man Chadwick Boseman to convince me that he was James Brown – and not playing James Brown. What do I mean by that?
Here’s what: I didn’t feel like Boseman had become fully immersed in his character until the scene where Brown winds up in prison. And now that I think about it: if it was going to take Boseman until that scene to fully transform into Brown, it came at a pivotal time in both Brown’s life and career, because that’s when Brown’s talent was discovered and he began the transformation from a life seemingly with no direction to one poised for greatness.
From that point on – when Boseman playing James Brown disappears and a more relaxed and comfortable Boseman as James Brown emerges – the film really takes flight. The audience truly gets a chance to see Brown as he was in all his glory – moving from the various stages of his career: “Mr. Dynamite,” “The Godfather of Soul,” and eventually “The Hardest Working Man in Show Business.” And Boseman ultimately does Brown proud.
Also starring Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Nelsan Ellis, Lennie James, Tika Sumpter, Jill Scott and Dan Aykroyd. Directed by Tate Taylor. Rated PG-13.
See you at the movies!
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