Actor Chadwick Boseman (42) brings his lickin’ stick to the role of R&B legend James Brown in this powerfully entertaining biopic, which features twenty original Brown hits, some with new arrangements and all lip-synced by Boseman. But the actor does all his own energetic dancing, nails Mr. Dynamite’s raspy speaking voice, and otherwise personifies the Godfather of Soul through a tempestuous lifetime of scuffling and striving. No matter what situation he found himself in, James Brown was always the boss. Also in director Tate Taylor’s brilliantly woven biography: Nelsan Ellis as Brown’s second banana Bobby Byrd, Viola Davis as JB’s wayward mother, Dan Aykroyd as the singer’s early manager, and Brandon Smith as fellow Georgian Little Richard, who explains the facts of showbiz life to the young JB. It’s a sad story told at breakneck speed. Screenplay by Jez Butterworth and John Henry Butterworth, from a story they wrote with Steven Baigelman. Red-hot and funky (138 min.).
Director: Tate Taylor
Producer: Brian Grazer, Mick Jagger, Victoria Pearman, Erica Huggins, Tate Taylor, Peter Afterman, Trish Hofmann, Jez Butterworth, John Butterworth, John Norris and Anna Culp
Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Nelsan Ellis, Dan Aykroyd, Viola Davis, Lennie James, Fred Melamed, Craig Robinson, Jill Scott, Octavia Spencer, Josh Hopkins, Brandon Smith, Tika Sumpter, Aunjanue Ellis, Tariq Trotter, Aloe Blacc, Aakomon Jones, Jordan Scott and Jamarion Scott