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‘Get On Up’ And Go See This Movie!

August 8, 2014

Director: Tate Taylor

long poster

“You special. Yo’ mama’s a no account fool, daddy too, but you ain’t gonna be. You gonna be okay. One day, everybody gonna know your name.”

– Aunt Honey


by Twylo Enmamud

James Brown as a young boy played by twins, Jamarion & Jordan Scott. (But don't ask me which one this is!)

James Brown as a boy, played by twins, Jamarion & Jordan Scott. (But don’t ask me which one this is!)

My earliest memories of James Brown are from when I was a child perhaps no more than seven or eight years old. I remember my mother having parties in our basement at our house in Laurelton, Queens. James Brown was perhaps the biggest thing as far as dance music. I remember my older brother, Bunzzie, standing out because he would always be dancing, and all our relatives would be cheering him on. He had no problem ‘getting on the good foot.’ They would encourage me to dance as well, but my brother always had the spotlight, and I, already being a reserved child, was a bit intimidated. I would sometimes go to the floor and do some mediocre step that I copied from my favorite aunt, Minnie, who wasn’t much of a dancer herself, but it would be nothing to compared to my brother. And so I shied away from that spotlight in general. Back then, I knew the music of James Brown because everyone was into it, but as a child, I didn’t truly have a personal appreciation for more than a couple if his songs. It

James Brown and Mick Jagger at a concert circa 1964.

James Brown and Mick Jagger at a concert circa 1964.

was not until I was older, till I was well on the way into adulthood that I began to truly feel the music that this man had created; till I began to appreciate the genius of James Brown, and how his music influenced so much that came after. But even then, I did not know his personal story. I did not know the man behind the music.

‘Get On Up,’ was produced by Mick Jagger, who met and was influenced by James Brown very early in his career.  Jagger

Chadwick Boseman performs as James Brown.

Chadwick Boseman performs as James Brown.

was also the musical director for this film,

and with it, he has given me, and I am sure, many others, an even greater appreciation of James Brown.

This movie was excellent, and done in very good taste. Chadwick Boseman not only played the part, he channeled James Brown. It was a masterful embodiment; a consummate feat of acting and


Get On Up is a thoughtfully executed film; a well-tempered mix of entertainment, drama, social commentary and even an occasional dash of humor. It is both heartfelt and inspirational. Even the title itself, which comes from one of Mr. Brown’s hits from 1970 – “Get Up,” is a call to act; an invitation to rouse oneself from lethargy.
The movie progresses from James’ younger years as a boy living in a small shack of a house with his mother and abusive father, all the

Octavia Spencer as Aunt Honey, consoles a young James Brown after he is disavowed by his mother.

Octavia Spencer as Aunt Honey, consoles a young James Brown after he is disavowed by his mother.

way up to the eighties when he makes a comeback after being incarcerated for a time. It makes stops along the way at the most pivotal points in his life and career, but always harks back to the formative years of his childhood; to the crucible in which James Brown, the man, was forged.
There were amazing performances besides Cadwick Boseman’s James brown as well. Most memorable was Octavia Spencer as Aunt Honey, whom young James was dropped off with after his father decided to join the army,

Viola Davis plays James Brown's mother, who seeks him out once he becomes famous.

Viola Davis plays James Brown’s mother, who seeks him out once he becomes famous.

and his mother had already deserted he and his father. Aunt Honey ran a bordello that was frequented by the young men in the armed services. Young James would help out by going out in the streets and advertising her services to potential customers.

Another great performances was given by Viola Davis who played James’ mother; a character that we end up being totally disgusted by, but who is none the less well-played.

Nelsan Ellis plays Bobby Byrd, James Brown’s best friend and right-hand man. I spent almost half of the movie trying to figure out where I knew him from, and then it hit me; this was Lafayette, the character from the HBO series, True Blood!
It is Bobby who first recognizes James’ potential, and is in a position to give him exposure. They meet in a prison where James has been incarcerated, and Bobby has come to put on a gospel

Nelsan Ellis as Bobby Byrd.

Nelsan Ellis as Bobby Byrd.

show with his group, which would later become The Famous Flames. Bobby manages to get him paroled from a five-to-thirteen year sentence which James has incurred for stealing a man’s suit. Although Bobby is the front man of his group, he senses intrinsically that James Brown was born to bask in the light, and graciously steps to the side.
And so begins Mr. Brown’s inevitable rise to fame.
Other notable performances were given by Dan Aykroyd, who plays James’ trusted manager, Ben Bart; and Jill Scott who plays James’ second wife, DeeDee Brown.

Twins, Jamarion and Jordan Scott give heart-tugging performances in their portrayal of the boy, James Brown.   I think that Children sometimes make the best actors in that they have the natural capacity to throw themselves fully, and without reservations, into the characters they play.

Nelsan Ellis (l.) and Chadwick Boseman (c.) perform in "Get on Up."

Nelsan Ellis (l.) and Chadwick Boseman (c.) perform in “Get On Up.”

Get On Up brings together a sublimely talented ensemble of actors who work wonderfully well with each other. I can see this movie garnishing at least three Oscars.

I could go on and on heaping the sincerest praise upon this film, but I think you get the idea!

I give Get On Up five stars:

five stars

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Teiko permalink
    August 12, 2014 9:50 pm

    Twylo your review employed shock and awe as you freely shared your connection to James Brown but offered so much of yourself in the process which moved me. I have loved you and your work since we met. I will watch this movie because I support all movies that highlight and feature the art of dance but I will also share this review for those who need another good reason to see it.


    • August 13, 2014 6:58 pm

      Hi Teiko,
      I’m glad you appreciated the review. I’m sure you will enjoy the movie. Thanks for spreading the word!

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