Kelly Reviews Get On Up (2014)!

Rating: B-, but Chadwick Boseman gets an A.

Summary: A biopic of the one and only James Brown.

Late with the Chadwick Boseman tribute, but trust me- we’ve been mourning over here. If for some reason you don’t know, fans around the world lost Boseman at the age of 43 about two weeks ago to a very private battle with colon cancer. To my recollection, I think Boseman is one of the few losses of a public figure that I’ve truly felt and mourned.

After watching Black Panther last weekend (naturally), I decided to continue with his resume (anyone know where I can find 42?)- and even though I watched this for Boseman, I forgot I was watching him. I was able to get absorbed into the movie and felt that connection to the film’s content. It’s a film that is unafraid to get into the more controversial events of its subject’s life, things that might make the audience feel uncomfortable. And when it ended, all I could think was, “I want to listen to James Brown now,” followed by, “Boseman was really freakin’ good.” Released in 2014, Get On Up shows that his fame wasn’t unwarranted. It’s immediately recognizable that Boseman was a truly talented actor with endless potential and a strong work ethic, not only managing to match James Brown step-for-step but providing a glimpse of what a triple threat he could be.

Sure, he was just an actor, but Boseman was a prolific and genuinely good role model. He represented a movement not just for young Black men, but Black actors and the Black film industry. That a movie like Black Panther could exist and that Boseman could be the face of a franchise as large as the MCU gave a lot of indication that parts of the industry were changing for people of color. His presence gave hope to everyone from make up artists to production design to writers, etc. And he carried all of this with such dignity, grace, and profound wisdom.

We are so fortunate to have access to Boseman’s work and to have witnessed his success. His impact will undoubtedly be felt for years to come and his name will certainly be in the conversation. While he will be missed, I hope his mentions won’t be in the “What a shame” sense, but as “Chadwick Boseman’s work was a real inspiration to me.”

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