Get On Up movie poster

File under: bravura openings to set the theme. Director Tate Taylor (The Help) has the intestinal fortitude to start this James Brown biopic with the Godfather of Soul in full meltdown: baked, aged, and enraged that someone has taken an unauthorized dump in his building. But when he stops to think about it, he realizes that the culprit is much like himself: "You saw an opportunity and you took it. Somebody got mad, but you did right by yourself." From there, Taylor wisely eschews straight chronology, instead building his story around this or that big Brown hit. ("Mr. Please Please Please," "His Bad Self," etc.) Chadwick Boseman (42) throws everything he has into his performance as the man who threw everything he had into his performance; the result is always watchable and occasionally gripping. (The film itself is much the same, though it falls prey to over-inclusiveness and over-experimentation.) 2014.

Matthew Lickona

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