No offense to Chadwick Boseman, who was great in the award-winning 'Get on Up', but there was a disconnect between us, the viewers and the attempted depiction of one of the most greatest performers to ever break sweat on stage, James Brown. For those who know a little about James Brown, the film seemed too ferris-wheelish, compared to an intense 100mph rollercoaster that never stopped.
Since there is so much more to be told from his legacy, it would have been best told through a character-piece; one which took us into the microlevel of James Brown energy and mind, and not a magnified view that tried to fit his entire life in a few hours, which is what 'Get on Up' felt at times. Not only did James Brown become the Godfather of Soul, he became his music; a Man who didn't take no mess, did his own thang, loved feelin' good, women and a funky good time. Yet musically, creatively, James Brown was a genius, a groove originator with captivating stage presence, powerful lyrics containing political, philosophical, sexual, and economical references and innuendos on funky grooves in rappin' flows. Long before Logic, Kendrick, Drake, Weezy, Kanye, Eminem, Jay, Tupac, Biggie, N.W.A, KRS One, James Brown was Rappin’, Freestylin', and it was gold. Over the span of half of a century, James Brown has not only become an iconic figure in music History, but an iconic and influential figure in popular culture.
‘Get on Up’ paints a positive timeline of events which is great, but I feel like we are being cheated of reality in not telling the full story. Give us the whole 'sha-bang' please. Maybe future generations need to understand what mistakes were made and how idols overcame them. 'Get on Up' definitely skipped over some parts that could cause for some intense film watching, and drive audiences. Violence, crime, murder, drug use and abuse, war, politics, women, sex, death, success, failure and more were large components of the godfathers life, but so was an overall sense of just trying to 'feel good!'. Aren’t we all just trying to feel good? With a little Dancin’, movin’, groovin’ you know.
Let's look at it from a business point of view. Studio's want to make money, they want to see people fill the theatre seats, they want to see its members, staff and all cast win awards for their outstanding performances. Yes, 'Get On Up' won 6 awards and was nominated for 15 nominations, but no oscars? When we think of Biography films, lets face it, the fun-loving ’Get On Up’ probably won’t be the first of movies that come to mind. The movies that will come to mind, will be the oscar award winning films that took us deep into the wild emotional rollercoast ride of the protagonists mind. Ali, which starred Will Smith as Muhammed Ali, Ray, which starred Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles, and Walk The Line which starred Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny cash had several of elements in common, elements that were absent in ‘Get On Up’.
- They were Oscar award winning performances
- There was sex, drugs, violence, imprisonment
- They were Rated R
- There was tremendous success to offset these other low moments
- lacked comedy
After James Brown's death in 2006, I knew it was only a matter of time before a film would come out about him. But when I saw the trailer, of Get On Up, I was highly disappointed that we were fooled in seeing a film about Little Richie (who was depicted in the film giving advice to James Brown before both artists blew up in fame) and not about James Brown. In fact, It was more upsetting that Jamie Foxx wasn't playing James Brown. Jamie Foxx is the perfect candidate for playing James Brown, hands down. Not only did Jamie Foxx win the Oscar for his biographical role for Ray, Jamie Foxx is amazing at impersonations and I'm sure he would've been effective in turning up the realism notch. Check out these clips of him doing some:
Jamie Foxx even looks like him!