GET ON UP – Rated PG-13
From the man who brought us the critically acclaimed film THE HELP – Tate Taylor – comes the incredible story of the rise and subsequent path he paved for R & B and his ultimate FUNK SOUND – the GODFATHER OF SOUL himself – Mr. James Brown.
Living in the back woods of Barnwell, South Carolina, we meet a young James who is being raised by his mother Susie (Viola Davis) and his absentee father Joe (Lennie James). When Susie has had about all she can take – she leaves James behind to be raised by his father – which of course, doesn’t work out well for poor little James. Joe decides to take his son to Atlanta to be raised by his sister, Aunt Honey (Octavia Spencer), who runs a brothel on the shady side of town. As James works any odd job he can find to get a little spending cash, he decides the time has come to “look the part” of the man he wants to become. He steals a suit out of a car nearby, only to be caught and thrown in jail. While in jail, he meets a young man named Bobby Byrd (Nelsan Ellis) who is there performing with his gospel group. Both in the infirmary after a fight breaks out, James does a little singing for Bobby, and well, as they say “the rest in history”. Bobby realizes that James has the talent to take him, James and anyone else who might want to join them, along for the ride of their lives!
With James in place as the front man of the FLAMES, the world is beginning to notice their group, while Bobby’s little sister DeDe (Jill Scott) is noticing James. Needless to say, all bets are off, as James and DeDe Get it on, making Bobby none too happy that he invited James into their home. As James and the Flames hit the road, their R& B Sound – southern gospel mixed with Brown’s own FUNK– is taking over the airwaves thanks to promoter Ben Bart (Dan Akroyd). Ben decides to manage Brown and the boys, as he knows that he can turn their sound into pure gold…….
Will James be able to make it to the top, as this is all he has dreamed about his whole life? Will James be able to keep his wife Velma (Jacinte Blankenship) and his two kids happy while constantly being on the road? Or will his life be turned upside-down when DeDe Byrd reenters his life? And what about his mama Susie – where has she been all these years?
I give GET ON UP 4 out of 5 stars: Summer 2014 is the season of musicians on the BIG SCREEN, as this film, on the tail of the release of JERSEY BOYS, makes this music loving girl of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s almost giddy inside. Chadwick Boseman plays a superb JAMES, as does Brandon Smith, who plays a cameo role as Little Richard. The rest of the cast is equally talented playing the other key roles in the film. I found myself wondering how a man who came from so little – had the fortitude and perseverance to really MAKE IT in the music biz for decades. It’s amazing what really makes a man into who he is destined to be and GET ON UP leaves no stone unturned in the life of this music legend. If you love musicals like I do and if you want to truly live out the life of the GODFATHER OF SOUL himself – then you don’t want to miss GET ON UP – It is definitely a MUST SEE 😉