Movie Review: Get on Up: The James Brown Story

I was excited when I heard a James Brown BioPic was coming the screen.


My grandfather played him all the time. This didn’t take away from the trouble he had or things the man did. He had a troubled past, and they did a great job of showing that, with the good points of his life. Before I saw this movie, I was all about the performer and genius that was James Brown.

It starts in 1988 confronting a group of people using is private bathroom…..with a shotgun.

Yeah, let that sink I for a moment.

James Brown was a troubled soul, but used music to get through things that most of us would probably seek therapy for. One of the best things within the movie was Brown(Chadwick Boseman) did was breaking the fourth wall.

For those who don’t know the theater term, it is where, normally, you act towards the other actor in the scene. You build an imaginary wall to block out the audience. Breaking the fourth wall is talking directly to the audience.

Normally it’s a no no. In this movie, where he did it, served great purpose. It let you see inside the mind of this genius, and let you see, with limited education, he was business savvy. He knew steps he was taking was unheard of, and would change the music business landscape.

I love biography films. Especially when they show everything. When I say that, I mean the person is real. The good, bad, and the ugly or in his case crazy. In the series of flashbacks, you begin to understand why James had a stand off way about life, and why he viewed himself as great. His music proved that of course, but it was also that stand off nature that also drove people away. I believe it was the constant heartbreak he also experienced which made him have a hard shell. It showed through the movie in a good way. It showed him as a person. We all knew it, but seeing him on stage, sometimes you can forget.

Boseman has had a roll of good fortune in taking on roles of Jackie Robinson and James Brown. It’s interesting in how you can tell their was some make up or prosthetics to change him into Brown. Sometimes, when people are casted, it doesn’t set well with the actor, and throws the whole movie off. He owned these changes in appearance, and made it work.

Jill Scott, Dan Aykroyd, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, and the awesome Nelsan Ellis around out the cast in forming of the legend and the important people around him. They did a fantastic job in helping show how complex his life was, but how they kept it together to build this empire he had, and his fall from grace.

This movie deserves a 10 splits out of 10. It was well written, and showed enough to get his life told. The years were like chapters we all wanted to learn about, and everyone really put their heart and soul into the film. The songs were played at perfect place to convey great segways into a new points in his life, and his major role in the civil rights movement. The struggle just in trying to do his part was fascinating in the sense of what African American entertainers went through, and continue to see, trying to fight for change, but being accused of being ‘uncle toms’ in the process. A great film if you have anyone doing a report on this man, and if you love music, it will make you go look up his hits and think you are him dancing around.

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