Boseman Impersonates the Godfather of Soul in James Brown Biopic


Get on Up

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Boseman Impersonates the Godfather of Soul in James Brown Biopic



In 2013, Chadwick Boseman successfully channeled the spirit of Jackie Robinson in 42, a powerful biopic about the Hall of Fame great who made history when he integrated Major League Baseball in 61Q1v+cA-UL1947. In Get on Up, the gifted young actor impersonates another legend, the Godfather of Soul, James Brown (1933-2006).

Unfortunately, this revisionist fairytale works better as a jukebox musical than as an accurate recitation of the late crooner’s checkered past. The problem is that Brown simply is hard to portray sympathetically, despite his overcoming abject poverty and a dysfunctional childhood on the road to superstardom.


Yes, he was abandoned by abusive parents (Viola Davis and Lennie James) at the home of an aunt (Octavia Spencer) in Augusta, Georgia who did her best to raise him in the absence of a father figure. Nevertheless, James dropped out of school in the 7th grade, took to the streets, and spent several years behind bars for an armed robbery committed at just 16.

Upon parole, he made a foray into showbiz after joining the Famous Flames, the first of numerous R&B groups he would headline over the course of a career marked again and again by bad break-ups due to disagreements he had over salary with disgruntled sidemen. Brown would also have further run-ins with the law, ranging from repeated arrests for domestic violence against three different battered wives, to embezzlement, tax evasion and bankruptcy, to another three years in prison for illegal drug and weapons possession, assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest.


Somehow, Tate Taylor (The Help) has figured a way to put a positive spin on the tarnished legacy of this terribly-flawed figure. Rather than have the film unfold chronologically, the inventive director has crafted an oft-confusing flashback flick which jumps backwards and forwards in time in dizzying fashion with no apparent rhyme or reason.

That scattershot approach ostensibly enables Get on Up to sidestep the more tawdry episodes on Brown’s resume without appearing to leave gaping holes in his life story.

Consequently, the movie sits on solid ground during gyrating Boseman’s lip-synched, onstage performances of such James Brown hits as “I Feel Good,” “It’s a Man’s World,” “Super Bad” and “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud,” but not so much whenever it shifts its focus to its morally-objectionable protagonist’s poor people skills.

A nostalgic indulgence which, like the cinematic equivalent of a fluffy fanzine, eschews serious criticism of a flawed icon in favor of a pleasant parade of his most memorable classics.


Very Good (2.5 stars)

Rated PG-13 for sexuality, drug use, profanity and violence

Running time: 139 minutes

Distributor: Universal Studios Home Entertainment

Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Extras: Deleted, extended and alternate scenes; full and extended song performances; On Stage with the Hardest Working Man; Long Journey to the Screen; Chadwick Boseman: Meet James Brown; The Get on Up Family; Tate Taylor’s Master Class; and feature commentary with director and producer Tate Taylor.



To order Get on Up on Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack, visit:


Eddie Murphy Exhibits Acting Range in Purely Dramatic Role

  Mr. Church Blu-ray Review by Kam Williams Eddie Murphy Exhibits Acting Range in Purely Dramatic Role     Marie Brody (Natascha McElhone) was told she only had half-a-year to live when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1965. But, not wanting to upset her daughter, she initially hid the fact that she was terminally-ill from 10 year-old Charlotte (Natalie Coughlin). Marie's recently-deceased boyfriend did her a big favor by providing in his will for a chef … [Read More its Good for You...]


Blue and Red Make Purple & Under the Moon: Jazz Standards and Lullabies

Blue and Red Make Purple & Under the Moon: Jazz Standards and Lullabies Two picture books with music are available this fall from The Secret Mountain   More information is HERE.   Blue and Red Make Purple: A Musical Journey with Jennifer Gasoi Illustrated by Steve Adams   Available on October 1, 2016   "A tour-de-force sampler of musical styles." ~ a 2016 Parents' Choice Gold Award winner! "Bright … [Read More its Good for You...]


ART EXHIBITION: 150 Years After The Civil War

  Cynthia Groya 150 Years After The Civil War: A Contemporary Perspective January 10 - March 6, 2016 Artist's Reception: Sunday, January 24, 3:00 - 5:00 pm Nassau Club 6 Mercer Street  Princeton, NJ 08540 The ideas reflected in Groya's paintings express a conversation about struggle for equal rights in our culture, in our time. The origin of this struggle can be traced to The Civil War in our country, which ended 150 years ago. The … [Read More its Good for You...]

Real Estate

Castles in America

  Castles in America by Amy Lignor   Robin Leach and his “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” taught us all long ago that we absolutely love to sit and view ridiculous luxury (usually owned by people who inherited all of it and didn’t work a day in their lives). See that? We had to complain about something as we were beguiled by the amount of money people would send to own or create the “best of the best.” Even though some things were referred to as the “gaudiest of … [Read More its Good for You...]


The American Zoo Debate: Sanctuary or Threat?

  The American Zoo Debate: Sanctuary or Threat? by Amy Lignor   The zoo has always been a family fun excursion. Here, in habitats that are as close to the ones in the outside world as possible (except for the aspect of freedom, of course), people can come and visit some of the most stunning creatures this earth has to offer. One such place, the San Diego Zoo, has even grown into one of the most popular attractions ever seen. This nonprofit zoo is more than … [Read More it Good for You...]


Finally, a Boat Shoe You Can Get Wet

  Finally, a boat shoe you can get wet   By Craig Lamb   I am happiest with wet feet. For me, that means wading a shallow saltwater flat, casting for tailing redfish. Or paddling aboard my sit-on-top kayak, cruising a river in search of smallmouth bass. Not my favorite, but when the fish are biting, fishing in the rain.   Yep, I do like getting my feet wet, but it can get downright annoying when my shoes stay wet. Footing is a challenge when shoes … [Read More its Good for You...]


Saying Goodbye to Legends…

    Saying Goodbye to Legends… by Amy Lignor   When someone you admire departs the Earth, it is extremely sad to come to terms with. In the days just passed, people and fans had to deal with the departure of two men from the world of sports. Although one perhaps was not a surprise, seeing as that the gentleman lived a good, long life, the other departure was shocking. One was a legend, while the other was on the road to becoming just that.    When … [Read More its Good for You...]


The Business of “Fear” Brings in $8 Billion a Year

  The Business of “Fear” Brings in $8 Billion a Year by Amy Lignor   There are aspects of Halloween everyone knows about. From the scary boogeyman to the haunted houses set up in cities and counties from sea to shining sea, the world certainly understands that the “frightening” is also the “entertaining” when it comes to All Hallows Eve. What most may not know, however, is the fact that Halloween is a billion (yes, BILLION) dollar industry. People are more than … [Read More its Good for You...]


Hunting for a Haunt

  Hunting for a Haunt by Amy Lignor   Yes, October is here and Halloween costumes have been flying off the department store racks. Even places like The Home Depot have put up their inflatable dragons, witches on brooms, etc. for the front lawn so that trick-o’-treaters can have a little ‘scare’ as they come for the candy.   However, there is far more than just “cute” out there. In fact, millions of people look for the scariest haunt they can find; one … [Read More its Good for You...]