Home | About Us | Subscriptions | Advertising | El Centinela | ARCHIVES
Catholic Sentinel | Portland, OR Thursday, July 27, 2017

Marylhurst grad program May-August

Home : Arts : Arts and Entertainment News
8/7/2014 7:59:00 AM
'Get on Up' portrays of the godfather of soul
Jamarion Scott and Octavia Spencer star in a scene from the movie
Jamarion Scott and Octavia Spencer star in a scene from the movie "Get On Up." The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adu lt guardian. (CNS photo/Universal Pictures)
Catholic News Service

"Get On Up" (Universal) is director Tate Taylor's musically compelling yet morally troubling portrait of the "godfather of soul," singer James Brown (1933-2006).

The film features an impassioned performance by Chadwick Boseman in the starring role. But numerous elements of the famed vocalist's life story make this recounting of it pungent fare even for adults.

Gifted but volatile, Brown -- played as a youth by Jamarion and Jordan Scott -- was the product of a troubled and impoverished childhood during which he was deserted by his mother Susie (Viola Davis), knocked around by his angry father Joe (Lennie James) and eventually given shelter in a house of prostitution under the care of its kind-hearted madam, his Aunt Honey (Octavia Spencer).

Jailed as a teenager for petty theft, Brown was rescued by fellow singer Bobby Byrd (Nelsan Ellis), who would go on to become his principal collaborator and long-standing best friend. Brown's burgeoning career was also nurtured by his good-humored manager and agent, Ben Bart (Dan Aykroyd).

In addition to his outstanding musical legacy, "Get On Up" suggests that Brown was an acute marketer of his own talent who, with Bart's initially reluctant cooperation, managed to change the rules of record promotion. He was, however, far less successful in navigating his personal relationships.

After a fling with Byrd's sister, Sarah (Taura Cherne), Brown marries his already pregnant girlfriend Velma (Jacinte Blankenship). But an exchange with Byrd shows that he has no intention of being faithful to Velma. And, indeed, he eventually throws her over for second wife DeeDee (Jill Scott), though where, exactly, in the process he and DeeDee regularize their situation the movie fails to make clear.

As one disturbing interlude shows, Brown's fits of unreasonable jealousy concerning DeeDee sometimes culminated in harsh physical abuse.

A combination of egotism and insecurity also spells trouble for Brown's professional partnerships, even endangering his bond with Byrd. He becomes increasingly -- and sadly -- isolated.

Working from a script by brothers Jez and John-Henry Butterworth, Taylor continually intersperses long-term flashbacks with more recent incidents. But this nonlinear structure tends to diffuse the impact of Brown's biography rather than reinforce it.

The seedy nature of much of the narrative, moreover, while perhaps faithful to reality, suggests that this is not a good cineplex choice for the casual viewer.

The film contains scenes of combat, domestic violence, brief semi-graphic nonmarital sexual activity, partial nudity, drug use, racism, prostitution and adultery themes, a few rough terms as well as frequent crude and crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

Article Comment Submissions
Submit your comments, please. 
Comments are reviewed before being posted to the site. Comments must use respectful language and address the story. Comments are not posted immediately to the site. The site editor may edit content for appropriateness. There may be a delay of 24-48 hours. Comments may also be considered to appear as letters in our print edition, unless the writer specifices no.
Note: All information on this form is required. Your telephone number is for our use only, and will not be attached to your comment.
Submit an Article Comment
First Name:
Last Name:
Anti-SPAM Passcode Click here to see a new mix of characters.
This is an anti-SPAM device. It is not case sensitive.

Advanced Search

News | Viewpoints | Faith & Spirituality | Parish and School Life | Entertainment | Obituaries | Find Churches and Schools | About Us | Subscriptions | Advertising
E-Newsletter | RSS Feeds

© 2017 Catholic Sentinel, a service of Oregon Catholic Press

Software © 1998-2017 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved