Follow us
Pin It

Get On Up rises on lead performance 

Rating: **1/2

STARS Chadwick Boseman, Nelsan Ellis

Chadwick Boseman as James Brown in Get On Up (Photo: Universal)
  • Chadwick Boseman as James Brown in Get On Up (Photo: Universal)

Chadwick Boseman, utterly convincing as baseball legend Jackie Robinson in 42, now wallops another home run with his work as music legend James Brown in the biopic Get On Up. In fact, Boseman is so formidable that, were the film itself just a bit better, he would eventually be basking in the same sort of year-end accolades that greeted Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles and Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash. Who knows, he may yet.

At any rate, Boseman is the primary reason to see Get On Up, a movie that retains just enough of the controversial parts of Brown's life in an effort to convince audiences that they're watching a truthful, warts-and-all examination. In actuality, the movie is the screen equivalent of a slap on the wrist, rightly extolling the man's musical genius but wrongly sweeping his demons under the rug. Perhaps mindful that Brown's fanbase dwindled after he announced he was supporting Richard Nixon for president (a pair of facts not mentioned in the film), director Tate Taylor (The Help) and his trio of writers wanted to avoid a similar exodus and therefore cast their movie to the widest possible audience — packed auditoriums of folks desiring to hear good music but preferring to not be bothered with such pesky matters as domestic violence and drug abuse (both severely downplayed in the picture). Then there's the film's tendency to present events out of chronological order, a structural decision that in this case proves more annoying than illuminating.

Still, Boseman and Nelsan Ellis (as Bobby Byrd, Brown's put-upon friend and partner) keep us engaged even when the storyline doesn't, and Taylor does a good job of recreating historical moments like Brown stealing The Rolling Stones' thunder at the T.A.M.I. Show and performing a concert immediately after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. In the end, Get On Up is the sort of standard musical biopic (like Clint Eastwood's recent Jersey Boys) that will soon fade from memory even as its soundtrack CD briskly climbs up the charts.

  • Pin It


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Creative Loafing encourages a healthy discussion on its website from all sides of the conversation, but we reserve the right to delete any comments that detract from that. Violence, racism and personal attacks that go beyond the pale will not be tolerated.

Related Films

Get On Up
Rated PG-13 · 138 min. · 2014
Official Site:
Director: Tate Taylor
Writer: Steven Baigelman, Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth
Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Nelsan Ellis and Lennie James


Now Playing

Sorry there are no upcoming showtimes for Get On Up

Latest in Reviews

Readers also liked…

More by Matt Brunson

Search Events

Recent Comments

  • Re: Rogue One: The Dark Side of the Series

    • Return Of The Jedi is a good movie and a nice conclusion to the series…

    • on January 7, 2017
  • Re: Passengers: A Space Idiocy

    • Aint that sexist, what you are saying is a women can never desire a man?…

    • on January 4, 2017
  • Re: Passengers: A Space Idiocy

    • You misunderstand, or weren't paying attention (shouldn't a movie reviewer pay attention?) to the reason…

    • on December 31, 2016
  • More »

© 2017 Womack Newspapers, Inc.
Powered by Foundation