Director: Tate Taylor
Writers: Steven Baigelman, Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth
Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Dan Aykroyd, Octavia Spencer, Viola Davis, Nelsan Ellis, Craig Robinson
“Get On Up” is many things, but it’s not a good movie. Chadwick Boseman is starting to find himself in a bit of typecasting as he follows up one tremendous term as a real-life African American celebrity with another. The truth of the matter is that he blows away both roles. Playing Brown from a teenager to a man near the end of his life is extraordinary. While Boseman is amazing, Tate Taylor proves that he might be the reincarnation of Stanley Kramer in terms of directing. Clumsy edits take you from Brown’s 1988 arrest to Vietnam and then to Brown’s childhood growing up in the Jim Crow South. That’s within the course of the first ten minutes of the film and sets the tone for the bumpy auto-piloting to follow.
I’ve been talking a lot about musical biopics over the last few weeks. While “The Buddy Holly Story” remains my favorite bizarre biopic, “Get On Up” is catching up for all the wrong reasons. The Butterworths are pretty famous British screenwriters and I respected the work that Jez did on “Jerusalem”. The time jumps and Taylor’s desire to never show the many sour spots in Brown’s past produces a film that doesn’t fell genuine. Race is never properly tackled, neither are issues of drug abuse or James Brown beating his wives. The fact that they were willing to mention the 1988 arrest is probably due to its comedic factor.
What we take away from this film is the same thing that Tate Taylor offered up with “The Help”. If you want to sell something to the mainstream, you have to water it down and craft something that would make Reader’s Digest crap themselves with envy. The musical performances are strong enough, as Taylor matched a carefully curated musical recordings selection to the cast performing. Thanks to Mick Jagger’s work as the music producer, you never have to worry about hearing any actors sing. But, Chadwick Boseman keeps that attitude going through the whole affair. Needless to say, this is going to be your aunt’s favorite movie this year.
RELEASE DATE: 08/01/2014