Movie Review // Get On Up – The James Brown Story


Directed by Tate Taylor, Get On Up tells the non linear story of James Brown’s life. Throughout the film we are thrown to different times in James Brown’s life, from the height of his fame to the moment his mother left his family.

We all know James Brown’s funky music but Get On Up shows us parts of his life that many simply won’t have known about. From his poor background, his father abandoning him, his drug problem which seem to have to have attributed to self insecurities and perhaps depression but definitely anger. His control freak attributes cause his band to leave him. Sidenote: At one point, Brown gets extremely angry to learn that he has lost top billing to The Rolling Stones and it is mentioned in the film that they will never go anywhere. 50 years later, The Stones are still going and Mick Jagger is a producer of his film.

Chad Boseman plays Brown with Dan Aykyord playing Ben Bart, his manager, who at one point, on good ole music business fashion, straps a suitcase of money to a security man’s wrist to get it out of the venue. Who needs banks eh?

On several occasions throughout the film, this reviewer wondered if they screenplay has one eye on heading to the stage. A number of times the character of Brown removes himself from the environment he’s in, addressing the camera, or audience, directly. Something that says this has one eye on theatreland.

If you aren’t familiar with Brown or his music, this is a good introduction to his life and his music and but if you’re a hard core music fan, you’re going to want to hear a lot more about Brown’s music. This film tries to combine the two and while we do find out about his personal struggles, it needs a lot more his Brown’s music to keep the music aficionado. Good but not quite there yet.

Thanks to Damaris for the inviting me to a lovely screening event at NBC Universal in London. Damaris provide resources to community groups about films to help promote discussion about some of the themes in films. They work with all types of groups, Youth groups, Church groups, Rotary Clubs all across the UK.

To get your free resources on ‘Get On Up’ for your community group go to

You can find out more about setting up a Film Club here