However that’s just what the summer of 2014 has bestowed on moviegoers.
The first of course was Clint Eastwood’s screen adaptation of the Broadway hit JERSEY BOYS, which pretty well filled its cast with unknown box office names—relying primarily on actors who had previously graced the roles of The Four Seasons on stage. The lone exception being Christopher Walken.
Now with GET ON UP, director Tate Taylor of THE HELP and WINTER’S BONE fame went in the opposite direction.
The only things the two films have in common is that they’re both based on 60’s musical acts and each breaks the so-called fourth wall—as in with the key character periodically speaking directly to the camera.
For GET ON UP Taylor wisely chose Chadwick Boseman for the lead as James Brown. You’ll recall that Boseman had achieved acclaim for his performance as Jackie Robinson in last year’s “42.”
Boseman steps into the shoes of another bigger than life icon here and again succeeds.
He channels the legendary R&B performer and chronicles his rise from dirt poor rural Georgia, to the superstar he eventually became.
Boseman channels Brown’s intolerance toward reason when dealing with managers and record deals while nailing his trademark on-stage delivery and funk-fortified stage presence.
Come to think of it, Boseman actually overshadows the movie itself.
James Brown may have been known as ‘The Hardest Working Man In Show Business’ but that didn’t keep him from living a troubled life—not to mention tax troubles and prison time for aggravated assault.
The movie delivers a fearless look inside James Brown’s music, moves and moods as we journey with him from his impoverished childhood to his evolution into the Godfather Of Soul.
Director Tate Taylor has surrounded Boseman here with heavy screen hitters including Viola Davis, Octivia Spencer and Dan Aykroyd as his manager.
There’s another big name associated with the movie. It’s Rolling Stones front man Mick Jagger who co-produced the film with Brian Grazer.
Maybe because much of Jagger’s moves and stage persona were based on Brown.
And while the biopic feels a big disjointed at times, it works—musical performances and all.
Will it have crossover potential at the box office? That’s hard to predict.
We’ll be a lot wiser after this weekend’s opening.
GET ON UP scoring a funk-infused B-.
(Reviewed at Cinetopia Theatres, Overland Park)
JACK GOES TO THE MOVIES Friday mornings at 6:40 a.m. and 8:40 a.m. on NewsRadio KMBZ FM & AM