The late Ray Charles and Johnny Cash are among the 20th-century music industry legends who’ve gotten the Hollywood biopic treatment over the past ten years, and now it’s James Brown’s turn. The “Godfather of Soul” – born James Joseph Brown Jr. – is the subject in the upcoming Get On Up, which Universal Pictures has now begun to hype via an official trailer release.
Get On Up follows Brown’s rise from poverty to fame, while chronicling the various bumps and roadblocks he encountered along the way. It’s a formulaic approach to a musician biopic, for sure, and the trailer’s structure is reminiscent of those for many a past awards-baity dramatization of a barrier-breaking artist’s life (humble beginnings, newfound popularity, generating controversy, emotional struggle, and so forth).
Chadwick Boseman – who played Jackie Robinson in 42 last year - headlines Get On Up as James Brown. Meanwhile, the supporting cast includes Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer (Snowpiercer), Viola Davis (Prisoners), Dan Aykroyd (Behind the Candelabra), and Craig Robinson (This Is the End). Finally, Taylor Tate (The Help) directed Get On Up, drawing from a script credited to Steven Baigelman (Brother’s Keeper) as well as brothers Jez and John-Henry Butterworth (Fair Game).
This is one biopic that, on the whole, seems to be aiming for more of an upbeat and spirit-lifting tone; that includes the trailer footage’s brighter color tones and semi-comical vibe that permeates throughout much of the newly-unveiled theatrical preview (save for the requisite dramatic beats, in addition to hints of the film’s more serious moments).
Three years ago, Tate’s adaptation of The Help – which Get On Up seems to resemble in terms of its directorial style – did well box office-wise with a similar August release date; it ended up taking home an Oscar for Spencer’s performance thereafter. However, Get On Up isn’t based on best-selling material like The Help, nor does it have the “Oprah factor” of last year’s The Butler (another uplifting Hollywood flick released in August). So, we’ll have to wait and see how that affects its financial performance.
Get On Up opens in U.S. theaters on August 1st, 2014.