UB Reviews: James Brown Biopic “Get On Up” – A Must See

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Get On Up
The Story of James Brown
Universal Pictures

A film that has been more than twelve years in the making is finally set to debut on the big screen. Get On Up is ready to blaze movie theatres across the world with its touching, informative and entertaining life story of “The Godfather of Soul,” “The Hardest Working Man in Show Business” and “Mr. Dynamite” also known as Mr. James Brown.

As a moviegoer, I’m sure everyone has heard at least one James Brown song and whether you are a huge fan or not, Get On Up will help you escape reality for a little over 2 hours and give you a peek into the man behind the legend. James Browns’ influence on the music industry as we know today is undeniable and this particular film takes you on a fantastic journey as to how that came about. From his interactions with Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones to Little Richard and various other musical greats, Get On Up covers a great deal of Mr. Brown’s life and his impact on society and the music industry as a whole. Speaking of Little Richard (who is portrayed by newcomer Brandon Smith), Smith does a great job embodying the flare and pizazz of Little Richard. He definitely steals the scenes that he’s in during Little Richard’s first time meeting James Brown. Brandon Smith is one to watch and I’m sure Hollywood will have him on their radar after his great acting during such a small role.

If you haven’t heard by now, Chadwick Boseman who portrays the late James Brown, is already receiving Oscar buzz and deservingly so. He is amazing in this film and if you thought he did a great job in 42, wait until you see his magic on screen as he brings James Brown back to life for moviegoers to witness; some for the first time and others who will reminisce. Movie director Tate Taylor (The Help) has definitely crafted a masterpiece, from the screenplay of Get On Up to the great casting including Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer and Nelsan Ellis. All three actors are great in their own rights and they definitely bring their “A” games to the characters that they portray in the film. “Watching Oscar nominee Viola Davis as Susie Brown, James’ mother was like watching a master-class,” says one of the production assistants during filming. “There were interns, assistants, production assistants and all types of crew that would mysteriously all pop up on set whenever Viola was filming her scenes” says Tate Tyalor. “It was amazing to see everyone on set just watching and learning from her.” Oscar winner Octavia Spencer (The Help, Fruitvale Station) is without a doubt flawless every time the camera shines upon her character, Aunt Honey. Her charismatic portrayal of James Browns’ Aunt is a job well done and also very entertaining. Nelsan Ellis (True Blood) proves without a doubt why he is a force to be reckoned with amongst the Hollywood elite. While his character Bobby Byrd (James’ fellow musician and lifelong friend) is the total opposite of the flamboyant and over the top Lafayette in True Blood, Ellis does a fantastic job and definitely lights up the screen every time you see him. Expect a few award nominations for him as well. Nelsan Ellis personifies the definition of great supporting actor in this film.

I had the chance to ask Nelsan Ellis: “how much did you know about Bobby Byrd before you read the script and how did you prepare for the role?”

Nelsan Ellis: I knew nothing about Bobby Byrd before I read the script. I didn’t know who Bobby Byrd was, I didn’t know he existed and so I had to do research to find out who he was. I fell in love with the dude and I’m honored to have played him.

Brian Grazer spoke on the process of creating Get On Up. What was it like to finally work on the film and to work with Mick Jagger?

“Working with Mick Jagger has been one of the greatest journeys of my life. I met James Brown 16 years ago and he was one of the most interesting people that I have ever met. I thought it would be a great idea to make a movie about James Brown. I then had to convince him that I should make his life story and make it into a movie. I owned the rights for twelve years and in the twelve years I had to continue to renew the rights with James Brown directly, hire different screenwriters, once upon a time a different director; but it was a long tedious process. When James Brown died I lost the rights because the rights became even more complicated. I then got the rights back and a year later Mick and I connected and we had a fantastic process working on this film. Mick had a chance to read the script and he loved it.”

Get On Up is in theatres this Friday, August 1st. In the words of James Brown himself, “please, please, please” go see this film and I trust that you will not regret it.

– JDot. (UrbanBridgez.com)


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