6.9/10
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Get on Up (2014)

PG-13 | | Biography, Drama, Music | 1 August 2014 (USA)
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2:39 | Trailer
A chronicle of James Brown's rise from extreme poverty to become one of the most influential musicians in history.

Director:

Tate Taylor

Writers:

Jez Butterworth (screenplay), John-Henry Butterworth (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
6 wins & 16 nominations. See more awards »

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Drama

Plot unknown.

Director: Tate Taylor
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Chadwick Boseman ... James Brown
Nelsan Ellis ... Bobby Byrd
Dan Aykroyd ... Ben Bart
Viola Davis ... Susie Brown
Lennie James ... Joe Brown
Fred Melamed ... Syd Nathan
Craig Robinson ... Maceo Parker
Jill Scott ... DeeDee Brown
Octavia Spencer ... Aunt Honey
Josh Hopkins ... Ralph Bass
Brandon Mychal Smith ... Little Richard (as Brandon Smith)
Tika Sumpter ... Yvonne Fair
Aunjanue Ellis ... Vicki Anderson
Tariq Trotter ... Pee Wee Ellis
Aloe Blacc ... Nafloyd Scott
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Storyline

On route to the stage, singer James Brown recalls a life with a turbulent childhood where music was his only constructive release for his passions. A chance demonstration of that in prison led to a new friend who helped get him out and into a musical career. With his fire and creative daring, Brown became a star who defiantly created new possibilities in show business both on and behind the stage in face of racism and conventional thinking. Along the way, James would also become a peacemaker who redefined and raised the African-American community's feeling of self-worth when it was needed most. However, those same domineering passions would lead James Brown alienating everyone around him as his appetites became ever more self-destructive. Only after he hit rock bottom with a serious mistake does Brown realize what he needs to do make his life as the Godfather of Soul truly worthwhile. Written by Kenneth Chisholm (kchishol@rogers.com)

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The Funk don't Quit

Genres:

Biography | Drama | Music

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for sexual content, drug use, some strong language, and violent situations | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official site | See more »

Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

1 August 2014 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Get on Up See more »

Filming Locations:

Natchez, Mississippi, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$30,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$13,585,915, 3 August 2014

Gross USA:

$30,703,100

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$33,448,971
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

SDDS | Datasat | Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film had been in development since 2000. See more »

Goofs

At the T.A.M.I. show, James walks by the Beach Boys dressing room. They are wearing "Pendleton" long sleeve shirts, which they wore earlier in their career. At the T.A.M.I. show they wore their trademark short-sleeved striped shirts, which they had been wearing in concert since at least March 1964. See more »

Quotes

Little Richard: I play a show in Lafayette last week twenty thirty girls pass clean out. Need oxygen. I'm killing 'em James. They should lock me away. I cut loose it's like a spaceship land. Did I say I got a record out? They drop it five times a day on WIBB. Five times a day. And I'm flippin' burgers. You know why? Cause WIBB antenna reach 60 mile. 60 mile. This country is 5000 miles top to toe and 7000 coast to coast. You catch the wind, get a hit, a real hit, every inch of that is yours.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The movie's title is shown as neon lit text, hanging in a window during the opening scene. See more »


Soundtracks

Hold It (Live at the Apollo)
Written by Billy Butler, Clifford Scott
Performed by by James Brown
Courtesy of Republic Records
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises
See more »

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User Reviews

 
James Brown gets the music biopic treatment.
5 August 2014 | by swellframe17See all my reviews

James Brown was a unique musician. He was the Godfather of Soul and inspired many musicians. He had hits like "Get Up Offa That Thing" and "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag." Tate Taylor (who did a wonderful job adapting "The Help") takes on Brown's story in "Get On Up" and tries to cram almost all of Brown's life story in a little over 2 hours. Taylor tries to make the film as bold and sporadic as Brown was by jumping around in time and breaking the fourth wall, but I don't think it worked.

In the first 15 minutes, we jump around to 3 different time periods, but it doesn't feel like it has much purpose for the juxtaposition of these time lines. We have to follow all these different story lines that don't always connect. A character says he's leaving Brown in one scene and by the next scene, the character is with Brown again like nothing happened. The lack of chronological flow makes it harder to appreciate what Brown did for his time, like the concert after Martin Luther King, Jr.'s death. It can be confusing and I think it could have stronger moments if it was done chronologically. The film didn't hook me within the first half hour and all the jumping around in time made the film feel never ending.

The breaking of the fourth wall isn't used consistently and well enough to make it useful. It took a long time for the film to establish that breaking the fourth wall was going to be apart of the film. I think it's better when a film starts with breaking the fourth wall instead of waiting 20 minutes to introduce it. It seemed like Taylor was trying to be like Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street" or Woody Allen's "Annie Hall," but I don't think it worked as well with "Get On Up." I admire how the film was trying to break the music biopic formula. However, I don't think it did it well.

"Get On Up" does have interesting juxtapositions when it merges Brown's older life with his younger self, but Brown is the only one we get to focus on and learn anything about. There is a large cast that surrounds him with great actors like Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer. These actors do the best they can, but the film doesn't give them enough time and they feel flat and one-dimensional. It's hard to connect with any of the supporting characters and Brown is a narcissistic jerk that you don't really want to connect with. Chadwick Boseman does a really good job showing all of Brown's charms and flaws, but everything around his performance feels weak.

Taylor's "Get On Up" tries to be a lot of different things, but it doesn't juggle them well. Brown went through so much in his life that it may have been better to focus on one of these important moments than to throw them all together. What we get is a slow moving and messy film that doesn't always add up to what it could have been. The film ends strongly with a montage that sums up Brown well and a song, but the two hours we go through to get there doesn't feel worth it.


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