Why I walked out of the new James Brown movie

To be fair, I walked back in. But I stood in the back, and had to take breaks. I just wasn’t feeling it, at all. JB is top 3 for me, and I really really really wanted to like this flick. Here’s why I didn’t…

First of all, the focus on the film leaned way too much on his meltdown in the 80s and what led up to it. That was a part of his life for sure, but the man’s career spanned 6 decades and his biopic shouldn’t be almost entirely about a tough time in his life — it’s not what defined him as a person and an artist. It left out so many important details, like his concert in Zaire in ’74 for instance, which they didn’t even mention.

From a music fan’s standpoint, you want a film about one of, if not thee, most influential man in modern music to be mainly about that, his music and the mark that it left on the world. The cheese factor was through the roof, editing was lackluster, and the special effects and music editing corny. Tack on multiple inconsistencies, fictional storywriting, and a scatterbrained attempt at tying the storyline together, and you’ve got a mess of a flick. Now i’m hardly a movie critic, but I know James Brown, and this felt like a feeble fluff piece instead of an authoritative look at the man’s life — Rafer Guzman over at Newsday really broke it down the best: “Get on Up” feels like the opposite of its subject: no rhythm and very little soul.

Lastly, so many important musicians he worked with were omitted I don’t even know where to start. No Marva Whitney or Lyn Collins? Seriously!?!

lyn collins

With all the being said, Chadwick Boseman did one hell of a job portraying the man, and was the obvious stand out in the film. He would have showcased a much better portrayal under a different director.

Long live James Brown | RIP

*correction: it was brought to my attention that Clyde Stubblefield’s character, played by Rob Demery, did make a brief appearance in the movie, and I obviously missed it. He gets no credit on IMDB tho, which is a bit strange.


  1. Even though I agree in many respects Clyde Stubblefield was a character in the movie albeit a minor one. But to be honest it’s us who are into hip hop and the breaks who are the Clyde Stubblefield fans that would want more of that info. But yes Hank Ballard, Lyn Collins, Myra Barns, and John “Jabo” Starks were all notable omissions to the story. I’m actually shocked the movie didn’t talk about the short lived “Future Shock” tv show or even the “Living in America” days. Perhaps because Mick Jagger was at the helm and has no comprehension of James Brown’s hip hop influence other than from a high level

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