Chadwick Boseman Shines As James Brown In Funky First Get On Up Trailer

By Nick Venable 2 years agodiscussion comments
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Itís a manís manís manís world, as per the lyrics and title of James Brownís classic 1966 single. But itís what the woman does to the man that drives him. At least thatís the feeling I get from the first trailer for Tate Taylorís next film, Get On Up, a feature version of the formative years in James Brownís career and life. Who? (horn stabs) I said the Godfather of Soul! (horn stabs) I said the Sex Machine himself, James Brown!

One would expect Tateís follow-up to his highly acclaimed 2011 drama The Help would be at least as dramatic and heartfelt, and thatís mostly what Iím getting from this trailer, via iTunes Movie Trailers, although the massive 2:47 length is played out to look like itís singing for the attention of award voters. While a closer focus on his later career decline, fueled by drugs and bad romances, would have garnered a different kind of critical attention, Tate is apparently taking things to hammier territories. But thatís not necessarily a bad thing, as the one thing this movie needs is a leading man that is in the vicinity of matching Brownís natural charisma and intensity, and 42 star Chadwick Boseman brightens up every moment heís in this trailer. Some of that might be other lights reflecting off of his shiny hair and teeth.

Boseman portrays Brown during his early years, when an impoverished and mostly motherless youth led to a stint in a juvenile detention center, where he meets his first partner in music, Bobby Byrd (Nelsan Ellis). Brown moves quickly from gospel to ass-bumping funk, standing closer to the center of the spotlight as it goes on. Of course, at some point his vacant mother comes back to mess with his emotions, and Viola Davis is a great choice for what should be a limited but powerful role. While Iím sure a few bridges are burned between friends as the film goes on, this looks like a mainstream biopic that wonít swim too far into troubling drama.

Thereís a huge supporting cast, some of whom show up in the trailer, including early manager Ben Bard (Dan Aykroyd), the inspirational Aunt Honey (Octavia Spencer), father Joseph James (Lennie James), and legendary musicians Sam Cooke (Ralph E. Tresvant), saxophonist Maceo Parker (Craig Robinson), Bootsy Collins (Justin Hall), Mick Jagger (Nick Eversman) and Clyde Stubblefield (Rob Demery). And then some. Thereís a lot to look forward to here if youíre a fan of Brownís work, and possibly even if you arenít. Iíd be lying if I said part of my enthusiasm wasnít fueled by hearing the titular song blaring through a theaterís speakers.

Now step away from the computer and bust a move or twelve. Nobodyís watching.

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