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First Trailer For Universal's James Brown Biopic 'Get On Up' (Starring Chadwick Boseman) Arrives!

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by Tambay A. Obenson
March 13, 2014 8:07 PM
34 Comments
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Check out the just-released first trailer for Universal Pictures' James Brown biopic, Get on Up.

The story begins with a 6-year-old James Brown, as he's abandoned by his mother (played by Viola Davis) and left to live with his Aunt Honey (played by Octavia Spencer), who runs a brothel. And the film ends in 1993 with a comeback concert, after Brown served prison time for aggravated assault and eluding the police in a wild car chase.

So not quite a birth-to-death biopic. Brown would eventually die on Christmas Day in 2006 - 13 years after the movie's above ending.

Star Chadwick Boseman (as James Brown) will also reportedly frequently speak directly to the camera, breaking the so-called fourth wall, addressing the audience directly, and offering them insight into his choices - an interesting decision by director Tate Taylor, and producers Brian Grazer and Mick Jagger.

Lennie JamesNelsan EllisJill ScottDan AykroydKeith RobinsonCraig RobinsonRalph TresvantTika Sumpter and Dan Aykroyd round out the cast.

Universal has set the film's release date for August 1, 2014, which isn't too far away (5 months from now); so I expect a first trailer/teaser to surface soon.

Get on Up was penned by Jez Butterworth & John-Henry Butterworth, who wrote the script for Fair Game, which starred Naomi Watts and Sean Penn.

Might we be calling Chadwick Boseman "Academy Award nominee Chadwick Boseman" next January?

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34 Comments

  • Accidental Visitor | March 15, 2014 9:25 AMReply

    CAREY, the fact that you place "The Five Heartbeats" on some podium like it is a masterpiece proves my point that we are a people starving for any trace of good representation on screen. The Five Heartbeats is one of those modern overrated Negro Classics such as "Boomerang", "Love and Basketball" and "The Best Man" that people try to elevate as examples of high-level filmmaking when in reality they are average in every way.

    As for Five Heartbeats it was written and directed by Robert Twonsend which should say all that needs to be said. Townsend's one true memorable work was "Hollywood Shuffle" but that is only because I suppose he was a fresh voice at the time and brought something new to the table. Otherwise he isn't much of a screenwriter and is even less of a director. And it shows all throughout Five Heartbeats which often comes across as a melodramatic mess. Plus Townsend has no acting chops whatsoever but still gave himself the lead in that film, hurting the quality of a damaged-goods product further.

    Now, if you like that sort of thing, Carey, then so be it. But try to respect the fact that other people may have a different opinion not to mention different standards. Oh, wait. You can't do that. If the opinion doesn't match your own you have no tolerance for it. You see yourself as the defacto voice of all that is true and worthy about black cinema, even if you can't express those sentiments in anything but rambling, incoherent, childlike sentences.

    By the way who are these visionary black directors who could have done better on a Hollywood James Brown flick? Who? Spike Lee has mostly been going down over the past 15 years. Fuqua is a solid director and capable but he has proven to be nothing special himself. Who is left? Malcolm Lee? Lee Daniels? His movies are always al over the place. The sad truth is that because of institutional racism within Hollywood we don't have a large selection of talented black directors with proven track records. The best of the black directors may be doing independent films and those guys and gals weren't going to get pulled out of obscurity to do a major motion picture for a major studio. And to be fair there was no guarantee that even having a black director would have given us the "real" James Brown. I enjoyed "Talk to Me" but that film did not guve us the "real" Petey Greene either even though it had a black director. When it comes to "Get On Up" I'm more disappointed in the choosing of white screenwriters because the script sets the tone.

    As for your putdown of Chadwick Boseman's talent, well, that may have been your curious comment of all. Was is your beef? He doesn't reach your level of acceptable blackness or something silly like that? Okay, got it. Maybe he can see a doctor about that or something.

    I would love to say I enjoyed this chat but that would be a lie. See you around at our next disagreement I suppose.

  • troll hunter | March 19, 2014 12:58 AM

    Carey please get a life, a woman or something other than the pathetic attention whoring that everyone is clearly seeing. Get a hooker. You look more and more like a loser. lol

  • CareyCarey | March 18, 2014 11:44 PM

    Blutopaz, I've been meaning to get back withya, but (stupid me) I got5 caughtup in that Tyler mess. Anyway, in particular, I wanna discuss the negative connotation attached to the word "Negro" and what each of us are looking for in our film watching experience.

    I guess I am trying to usher in a discussion on what "good" to each individual that would have them select a film over another. You sorta went there in your overview/opinion on The Five Heartbeats.

    In short, in the film world there's a reason why "one man's garbage is another man's treasure" and I wanna discuss the details. Know what I mean? The details a different for all, aren't they? I mean, I watch movie to____________. Yet, another person watches them with an eye on______________?

    re: Heartbeats, yep, you got it. I watched that movie and received those things you mentioned and more. Was it a great film? Well, we'd have to talk yo "great", my "great" and whomevers "great". Got me?

  • BluTopaz | March 16, 2014 8:51 AM

    I actually agree with you totally on this one.

    Five Heartbeats is part of the Overacting Negro Ensemble archives that some Black people proclaim as great cinema. There is wonderful cinema throughout the African diaspora; Five Heartbeats was a fun popcorn flick that owed much of its success to the fantastic soundtrack and similarities to David Ruffin's story.

  • CareyCarey | March 16, 2014 1:23 AM

    SAVANNAH MORGAN *CUES CareyCarey* grabs Popcorn while I wait for his commentary!!

    I hear you Ms. Morgan. Grab your popcorn and a tall glass of kool-aid because I'm about to highlight (and light that ass) of our resident bougie and part-time brotha. Yep, in his haste to bemoan my colloquial writing style he has finally shown us who he really is. So, sit back while I go here--> ...."you [CareyCarey] place "The Five Heartbeats" on some podium like it is a masterpiece proves my point that we are a people starving for any trace of good representation on screen. The Five Heartbeats is one of those modern overrated Negro Classics such as "Boomerang", "Love and Basketball" and "The Best Man" that people try to elevate as examples of high-level filmmaking"

    MY MY MY! Mr. Accidental, could that paragraph explain why you have a penchant for defending white chicks and white writers/producers/directors of black films? I mean, you've shared the fact that your sister is married to a white guy, so I understand you may be compelled to represent/defend those in your family, but I just realized that you've never said anything good about black films. In particular, you seem to despise the black classic films in which many African Americans have found great joy and pleasure from watching. Why is that? Are you uncomfortable being a black man? And... would you... or, have you ever watched a black film with your family (including your brother-n-law) and friends? I am asking because, again, aside from your list of black films that are beneath you (Marginalizing them to "overrated Negro Classics") your commentary on black films is seldom if ever spoken with the same zeal as your long commentary defending "Get On Up".

    Come on man... Negro Classics? So tell me, those who enjoy and honor those classics are what? Granted, I don't know what you were trying to imply by that remark (I could be mis-reading you) but it had the ring of a bougie negro who is ashamed of the black experience. And, he wants the world to know he is not like "those" black folks.

    Come on man, you know I am telling the truth, don't you. You even found a way to slam our directors, didn't you? Oh... what... you forgot? Check it out my part-time brother-->

    "Spike Lee has mostly been going down over the past 15 years. Fuqua is a solid director and capable but he has proven to be nothing special himself. Who is left? Malcolm Lee? Lee Daniels? His movies are always al over the place"

    My oh my, you couldn't find a good word to say about black directors but you were able to find more than 2000 words to defend this dreadful, slap-happy mess, written, directed and produced by your preferred filmmakers (white guys).

    re: Chadwick Boseman's talent, I just told it like it is. Nothing in his resume would compel me to say he's a great actor. From what I've seen, he's marginal at best. And, I believe one would be hard pressed to highlight a scene in which his acting is more than that? And surely you can't find one damn scene in this clip that speaks to great acting. I saw a grinning pretender.

    "I would love to say I enjoyed this chat but that would be a lie. See you around at our next disagreement I suppose." Mr. Accidental

    Well, I actually enjoy this little dust-up. It exposed who you really are, so now I know who I am talking to... which is always a good thang in forums such as this. So yeah, see you around the next bus stop. I can't say see you at the movies because I love black films and black folks, but I can't say the same for YOU.

  • 1867UKNOWHU | March 15, 2014 8:41 AMReply

    CANNOT WAIT FOR THIS FILM TO COME OUT!!!! Will be there on the first weekend! Glad to see another major motion picture with Chadwick Boseman!

  • CareyCarey | March 15, 2014 1:52 AMReply

    UP AGAINST THE WALL! When you least expect it, you're elected, you're the star today... SMILE ;-)... you're on CareyCarey's camera.

    First: "Yet another mediocre film by a white director hustling a Black narrative. In addition to Spike (whose track record TRUMPS his recent missteps) there's a host of Black directors who would have done this story justice. There is no excuse for this continued mass exploitation of Black narratives" ~ Moon

    BINGO!!!

    "Moon, with the exception of Mr. Fuqua, all the directors you named are primarily indie filmmakers with (or without) varying degrees of commercial success. The money boys in charge would never have hired any of them. And therein lies the problem.....and the solution" ~ Dave's Deluxe

    JACKPOT! The money boys couldn't let Spike, nor the others, tell the real story. They would suffer the risk of being treated worst than those who were caught-up in THE RED SCARE IN HOLLYWOOD!

    Next: "I'll Pass. This looks really bad. I'll stick with the Five Heartbeat" ~ D.C. Kirkwood

    HELLO!!! I totally agree. Say it loud and say it proud, this film is not The Five Heartbeats (I'll get back to that)

    Next: "Chadwick Boseman is brilliant." ~ Ade

    REPLY: 3 words... what, when and how-so? Or... Not even close! I do not understand how anyone could come to that conclusion... "Brilliant"? Spare me.

    ... and last, but certainly not least, we have Accidental Visitor's --> "If 'The Five Heartbeats' is the standard bearer for movies about black musicians than woe is us"

    Correction: The above should read "woe is thee" because the reader obviously does not get it... or he's feigning ignorance. I mean, here we have the same person who's championing this film while bemoaning the merits of a classic black film "The Five Heartbeats" which was... (now listen-up and catch-up, Accidental Visitor) written for, and by black folks. Yet, you've taken the white apologists route of promoting a film that's portraying one of our early pioneers of "the movement" as a black happy-go-lucky caricature. This character in this film, which btw, I believe is more suited for the "Lifetime Black Movie Of The Month" crowd, is not the James Brown I witnessed (and once danced on stage with).

    Listen, least we forget, during the turbulent times of the 60's & early 70's)Mr. James Brown was viewed as an "Enemy of The State". That's right, he was on the list with MLK, The Black Panters and Malcolm X. So when I saw that pitiful clip of Chadwick Boseman's smiling face begging for an opportunity to perform in Vietnam (during the Vietnam war) I just about barfed, because that's not the James Brown I remember. Yet, as long as we have the proud and loud voices of white apologist who see nothing wrong with this film and those who do not see the distinct differences between this film (Get On Up) and The Five Heartbeats, we will continue seeing a long line of mediocre films by white directors hustling a Black narrative.

  • CareyCarey | March 14, 2014 9:35 PMReply

    WRONG-WRONG-WRONG AND HELL NAWL!.... and let me tell you why.

    First and foremost Chadwick Boseman has no business playing James Brown. Listen, James Brown was a man's man, Chadwick does not project that persona, not to mention his acting, that's very questionable. Granted, he may have been a perfect fit (for some) as the "turn the other cheek" do boy for the white savior Branch Rickey and the film made money, but we're talking about the man who made all black folks proud when he screamed the words "I AM BLACK and I AM PROUD! Yep, those are not the words of a do boy and Chadwick is not fit for this part.

    Check that. Mr. Brown's presence and lyrics brought fear to the hearts of many white folks. So, to appease those fears, Chadwick may be a perfect fit (for some). He looks like a naive young kid "doing the James Brown" for family gatherings, not a seasoned actor.

    Come on y'all, lets tell it like it tis, this film is nothing more that Black Exploitation 101... and, as someone said "this sh*t looks cornier than a mug".

  • Accidental Visitor | March 14, 2014 7:33 PMReply

    Had no interest in a James Brown biopic. Didn't understand why Boseman was cast after he had just played a black icon, Jackie Robinson. Was not thrilled that the director of "The Help" came onboard. Despite all of that, or because of it, this trailer came off better than it had any right to. People here are complaining about cliches? What Hollywood movie geared for the mainstream is not full of cliches?

    I was impressed to learn over the past few months that the movie would address Brown's demons, like his use of drugs and domestic abuse. I was happy to learn that the film would involve Brown breaking the fourth wall and would not stay to some strict, chronological order. And I've been thrilled to hear early buzz and reports that Boseman is fantastic in the role (which may be why in part Boseman got to be part of that VF cover a month ago and why he was named, by theater owners, to be this year's Star of Tomorrow).

    Even if the film isn't a masterpiece hopefully it will at least be good enough to keep aiding Boseman's trajectory upwards. I was worried about his taking back-to-back roles as black iconic figures, but my concerns were eased when I read reports that he was weary of that as well and had initially turned the role down until the director personally convinced him. That suggests he won't be doing another of these icon biopics in the near future because he realizes the typecasting that could come along with it.

    Getting back to the trailer, it looks fine. It does it job in selling its product. Folks here may not care for it but others on the web (like YouTube) are eating it it. You can't judge a movie by its trailers anyway otherwise Man of Steel would have been one of the greatest films ever made!

    Still may not see this. I may have to be dragged along like I was to "42". But I think it looks as if it has a good chance to make some serious coin even if it doesn't get a cent from me. I wanted to hate "The Help" but I ended up liking the film more than I thought I ever would. So the director is a solid, if not an inspirational, choice. From all reports he seems passionate about the movie and he and Boseman have discussed how being both Southerners they had an obligation to do right by James Brown. Whatever that means.

  • Once Was Enough | March 14, 2014 6:45 PMReply

    @ Dave's Deluxe -- Moon is right. There's no reason why Mick Jagger and Brian Grazer couldn't, and shouldn't, have hired one of the aforementioned directors. Tate Taylor started out as an actor and TURNED to directing. It's not like he's Spielberg, Lucas, or Howard. And the only reason he directed "The Help" is because he and Kathryn Stockett, the author, are friends and fellow Mississippians. "The Help" was his first rodeo. ... do your research.

    I, too, will be sitting this one out.

  • Accidental Visitor | March 14, 2014 7:36 PM

    Yes, but that one movie he turned out was critically acclaimed, became a crowd favorite that made tons of dough, manage not to alienate the book's vast fanbase and was nominated for Best Picture too. We can agree that "The Help" was still far from being a truly great flick, but we have to own up to the fact that Taylor now has a proven track record and Hollywood likes guys like that.

  • Dave's Deluxe | March 14, 2014 7:29 PM

    @Once Was Enough-- that sure is an inside-ey story, there. But I'm not sure how/why that negates my original point, particularly as it concerns this James Brown movie: that the money boys are only going to hire directors with "commercial" sensibilities that mirror their own (ie that they feel comfortable with.) None of Moon's suggestions fit that bill. BUT as they did originally hire Spike, I do believe this shows they were *trying* to have someone black direct. Spike is Spike, and I'm sure his, uh... "ideas" were off-putting, especially to those commercial-money-boys. So they let him go.

    In the end, game recognizes game, and money recognizes money. And the money boys weren't impressed with any of those black directors ability to pull in the cold, hard commercial cash. They tried with Spike; didn't happen. So they went with "old reliable": cronyism. That Tate had a connection to a writer is only icing on the cake, not the reason he got the job. He got the job because It All Comes Down To The Money. And Tate. Makes. Money.

    Also, I too will be sitting this one out cause this s*** looks cornier than a mug.

  • Moon | March 14, 2014 12:48 PMReply

    From the director of "The Help"...is that the selling point?! Yet another mediocre film by a white director hustling a Black narrative. In addition to Spike (whose track record TRUMPS his recent missteps) there's a host of Black directors who would done this story justice- Carl Franklin, Charles Burnette, Julie Dash, Antoine Fuqua, George Tillman...etc. There is no excuse for this continued mass exploitation of Black narratives. I really want to like Chadwick Boseman, but as with 42, I will not be supporting this one.

  • Dave's Deluxe | March 14, 2014 5:23 PM

    Moon, with the exception of Mr. Fuqua, all the directors you named are primarily indie filmmakers with (or without) varying degrees of commercial success. The money boys in charge would never have hired any of them. And therein lies the problem.....and the solution.

  • Ade | March 14, 2014 12:44 PMReply

    Chadwick Boseman is brilliant.

  • Beemooree | March 14, 2014 12:34 PMReply

    Why is viola always looking "ugly" on camera? Hope she looks better on her abc pilot

  • D.C. Kirkwood | March 14, 2014 10:29 AMReply

    I'll Pass. This looks really bad. I'll stick with the Five Heartbeats. The real question is who did Viola Davis's makeup? She looks everybit of 85 years old straight Miss Jane Pittman style!!!

  • Accidental Visitor | March 14, 2014 7:13 PM

    If "The Five Heartbeats" is the standard bearer for movies about black musicians than woe is us.

  • stevenbarnes | March 14, 2014 1:05 PM

    D.C. Kirkwood, You're always hating on something. I'm not certain that you're not member of the Klan. Very self hating cat you are. You and your always negative comments can GTFOHWTBS. On top of all that, your name sounds like the lead singer of an 80s cross-dressing glam band.

  • Ladybug | March 14, 2014 9:57 AMReply

    Couldn't help watching this trailer and thinking . . . would have preferred Nelsan Ellis as James Brown.

  • Cinexa | March 14, 2014 8:29 AMReply

    I, for one, am looking forward to it. I feel good...about it.

  • AC | March 14, 2014 2:14 AMReply

    I'm not interested.

  • stp | March 14, 2014 12:50 AMReply

    Yes, from the director of the help and two other danny strong writers. Help me Obi-Wan. Your my only hope.

  • SHEBABABY | March 14, 2014 12:18 AMReply

    I'm convinced, white people just don't "get" us. Everything about this looks contrived and poorly executed. They should've left this with Spike.

  • More Truth | March 14, 2014 5:19 PM

    Agree to disagree indeed, dear Shebababy. Agree to disagree indeed.

    Moving on.

  • SHEBABABY | March 14, 2014 3:12 PM

    See Quadir you're all in your feelings about stuff. Every film is fictionalized whether it's based on a true story or complete fiction. I don't pretend to know everything about Elijah Muhammad's life so I don't know how true or untrue the accounts were in the film. However, the acting, the cinematography, the tone of this film, was solid. Spike did an excellent, excellent job with telling that story. That's what filmmaking is. Storytelling.

  • Quadir | March 14, 2014 2:03 PM

    What's so great about a film that presented fictionalized and rumored accounts of certain aspects of the life of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad? Sounds like a trashy film, from a filthy filmmaker, to me.

  • SHEBABABY | March 14, 2014 12:47 PM

    Truth the simple fact that you think that "X" wasn't a good movie tells me everything I need to know. Not sure what kind of bar you've set for filmmakers but Malcolm X was not only a "good movie" it was a great movie. There was nothing mediocre about the acting nor the filmmaking. We can agree to disagree.

  • stp | March 14, 2014 11:33 AM

    Stupid ass mutha fudgas! You don't like Spike, enjoy your time at single mom's club this weekend. And this weekend learn something about filmmaking. Wendi McLendon-Covey was proud to say stupid ass Tyler uses only one take. His editor must love him. No wonder why the performances suck ass.

  • Truth | March 14, 2014 4:55 AM

    Shebababy, the reason we have trouble raising the bar as filmmakers is because there are still people like you out there who honestly believe "Malcolm X" was a good movie.

    Where do we find the motivation to creatively innovate in the face of consistently celebrated mediocrity?

    The only solution is crass, cynical commercialism.

  • SHEBABY | March 14, 2014 4:45 AM

    Spike has done enough poignant, groundbreaking films that he can afford a few flops. But what he did with Malcolm X trumps anything that was shown in this trailer or that will probably be shown in this movie.

  • Vm | March 14, 2014 12:50 AM

    Have you seen Spike's latest films. Trash.

  • slb | March 13, 2014 11:30 PMReply

    The only problem with this trailer is "From the director of 'The Help'".

  • ian | March 13, 2014 10:12 PMReply

    looking forward to seeing both Dan Aykroyds. this looks only slightly better than the 3 stacks biopic outing but not by much.

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