No screenwriter or director could possibly tie together the unlikely, turbulent life of James Brown — Soul Brother No. 1, the Godfather of Soul, the hardest-working man in show business. But maybe an actor could.
As though to acknowledge Brown’s brilliant and bizarre life, the makers of Get on Up present their story in a fragmented, time-jumping fashion. The man is depicted as an enigma whose erratic adult behavior connects directly to his rough upbringing. This approach has its ups and downs, but at least it isn’t just the same old showbiz rise-and-fall musical biopic. By skipping back and forth in time, we get the idea that Brown never escaped the harshness of his Georgia youth.
Whatever the riddle at Brown’s core, Chadwick Boseman has his pulse. The actor played Jackie Robinson in last year’s 42, and he gives another committed physical performance here.