Watch Get On Up
- 2 hr 19 min
Get On Up is a 2014 biographical drama film about the life and music career of James Brown, often referred to as the "Godfather of Soul". The film was directed by Tate Taylor, who is best known for his work on The Help, and stars Chadwick Boseman as James Brown. The film takes a non-linear approach to Brown's life, beginning in the present day before jumping back and forth through various periods of his career. The film was released to generally positive reviews and earned Boseman critical acclaim for his portrayal of Brown. The film begins with a scene of Brown arriving backstage at the Boston Garden in 1988, where he is set to perform a concert. The scene establishes the present-day narrative framing device of the film, with Brown pausing to address the camera directly and comment on his life and legacy. From there, the film jumps back to Brown's childhood in Augusta, Georgia, where he grows up in poverty with his parents and siblings. The film depicts Brown's upbringing as a difficult one, with his parents frequently fighting and Brown getting into trouble with the law. As a teenager, Brown is sent to prison for stealing a suit. While in prison, he meets Bobby Byrd (Nelsan Ellis), a gospel singer who eventually becomes a friend and musical collaborator. After Brown is released from prison, he joins Byrd's band and begins performing at local clubs. The film then jumps forward to the 1960s, when Brown has become a major figure in the music industry, with hits like "Please, Please, Please" and "I Got You (I Feel Good)". Throughout the film, we see Brown's music career evolve and change along with the political and social landscape of the time. The film depicts Brown's support for the Civil Rights Movement, his performance at the Boston Garden the night after Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination, and his involvement in the Black Power movement. While the film doesn't shy away from Brown's flaws and personal struggles, such as his abusive behavior towards women and his drug use, it also emphasizes his musical genius and the impact he had on the music industry. In addition to Boseman and Ellis, the film features a talented supporting cast that includes Dan Aykroyd as Brown's manager, Ben Bart, and Octavia Spencer as his aunt, Honey. The performances in the film are uniformly excellent, with Boseman in particular delivering a powerhouse turn as Brown. Boseman nails Brown's distinctive speaking voice and mannerisms, and he also does an impressive job of capturing Brown's energy and charisma on stage. The film's soundtrack is another highlight, featuring numerous classic James Brown songs as well as some lesser-known tracks. The music is woven seamlessly into the film's narrative, with performances often used to convey key moments in Brown's life and career. The film's musical numbers are some of its most electrifying moments, with Boseman and the rest of the cast delivering energetic and passionate performances. Overall, Get On Up is a well-crafted biopic that does justice to James Brown's life and legacy. The film is visually striking and stylishly directed, with a strong sense of time and place. While the film occasionally feels a bit scattered in its storytelling, the strength of the performances and the music more than make up for any flaws. Fans of James Brown's music will especially appreciate the film, but even those who aren't familiar with his work will find much to enjoy here.