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 (email@example.com)
Universal put the film in turnaround when the budget was approaching $70 million. Ultimately, the film was made for $30 million. See more »
When James Brown recorded "Say It Loud (I'm Black and I'm Proud)" in 1968, he recruited neighborhood children to sing backup. Ironically the children were mostly, if not all, white and Asian with little or no black kids. See more »
What exactly do you call your style of music?
I call it James Brown music because it's so far ahead of its time
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Chix Chat on Film review: The story of the Godfather of Soul
This film is long overdue, although it seemed to me that there was so much more content excluded from the storyline. If a film maker chooses to focus on the artistry and creativity that came forth from an individual then it is best not to delve too deeply into the demons, which for James Brown (Chadwick Boseman) were much bigger than portrayed in this film. I wasn't a fan of the style of filmmaking applied to this tale, I would have preferred a more linear approach to the historical events that shaped Mr. Brown's personality. Starting a story with some event that takes place at the end is not that unusual, but there was so much jumping back and forth from childhood to young adult to the 'Godfather of Soul' that it was hard to connect to the story initially. Then there were the soliloquies, I didn't quite fathom why they were needed since they really did not add much to the storytelling other than try to place the audience inside of James' head. This story of the lifelong friendship of James and Bobby Byrd (Nelsan Ellis) was interesting and engaging, but nothing about this film was more entertaining than the music. I tried to be a good moviegoer so I didn't song along aloud, but it was almost impossible to just sit without moving to Caldonia and Get on Up. I couldn't help but reminisce as Please, Please, Please and This is a Man's World permeated the crowded theater. And yes, I fought back the tears during Try Me. The story did include a pivotal encounter with Little Richard (Brandon Smith) and the events that led to Bootsy Collins becoming a band member, but there were other musical icons that touched his life that were not mentioned. I guess the movie would have been too long to cover everyone. Mr. Boseman did a fine job of mimicking the enigmatic dance moves of Mr. Brown and his lip-syncing was palpable, but I just wasn't fully convinced with the vocal recreation. James Brown had a distinctive style of speech that few have been able to capture. Eddie Murphy did it with his comic genius on SNL with Hot tub, but he too may have fallen short if he was expected to maintain the sometimes indistinguishable speak throughout a feature film. I enjoyed this film, I saw it with my mother who is 74 and she loved it. The first concert that I ever attended was a James Brown concert. You don't know at the time that when you're just out for some entertainment, you're actually in the presence of greatness and that you are a part of historic events.
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