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Yes, No, Maybe So: "Get On Up"

You is kind. You is smart. You is important."

I love The Help (2011). I don't care who knows it. So I'm immediately curious about Get On Up, Tate Taylor's follow up which reunites Minny & Aibileen though they both take a back seat since this time it's the story of rock legend James Brown (Chadwick Boseman). This trailer also starts with an affirmative.

You special. And your momma's a no account fool. But you ain't gonna be. One day everybody gonna know your name"

JAMES BROWN [*makes applause sound*]

Okay so that's not as universal an affirmation but... wait. oh. That makes Viola Davis the 'no account fool'? Do over! Not sure I'm okay with this. Time for a Yes No Maybe So™ 


  • Well, it has several "fun" beats and you don't watch to approach James Brown reverently since he shook things up and also was more than a little cartoonish in presence.
  • Chadwick Boseman looks like he's having fun with it and that'll be important


Does it sound good? Does it feel good? If it sound good and it feel good then it's musical."

  • Octavia Spencer gives good reaction shot as usual.
  • Octavia Spencer & Viola Davis with Tate Taylor
  • Costumes by Sharen Davis, Cinematography by Stephen Goldblatt, Production Design by Mark Ricker, Score by... hell the whole team is back together.  


  • Viola Davis in old age makeup? Nooooooo. Hollywood is so mean to her. She's so vibrant and should be in leading roles, not older than she is roles that signal that they can ignore her now or roles that accentuate fatigue like Aibileen did or her "resting bitch face" as I recently heard it called online when shots of her waiting to talk to Ryan Seacrest did look, well, bitchy.

    omg, I have been waiting for an opportunity to share this now that it's out of date post Oscar time but I WORSHIP this shot I didn't realize I had taken on Oscar night.

  • LOL. I love her so much you guys. Viola Davis is only in the "No" column because I want more from her not because I won't take what I can get. 
  • I tried to watch 42 recently... and I know I shouldn't judge because I didn't actually finish the movie but Chadwick Boseman bored me stiff in that leading role so hopefully he's as energized here in the non-musical sequences as he looks to be in the musical sequences where he'll have an easier time resting on imitation. 


  • Trailers often simplify tone -- they have to -- so I'm not necessarily going to hold it against the movie that it's like "hardy har har" about people  being shot at in Vietnam. But, yeah, that feels tone deaf and for a film with musical sequences to even hint at tone deafness does not make me comfortable. 
  • Listen. I use to harp on and on about how awful biopics were but I realized sometime during the Aughts that what I objected to was not the genre itself but the tiny tunnel vision of Hollywood that thinks only famous musicians / politicians / celebrities whose lives followed traditional rise and fall and rise again or triumph over adversity arcs. So I hope they can find something new here but it looks extremely much like basically every other biopic.


Are you a Yes No or Maybe So? And does the answer change if you remove your feelings about The Help from the equation? It does for me since I am a Maybe So due to the reunion but on the grounds of the trailer I'd be a No.

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Reader Comments (28)

I am big fat NO if you consider The Help.

I am still a big fat NO after seeing the trailer. It look as bad as Ray.

March 14, 2014 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

I can't help it, I loved The Help. So I'm a yes based on that (and Viola and Octavia, always a big fat loud YES for both of them), and a maybe so based on the trailer. I feel like what I didn't like is more thanks to how the trailer was cut, so I'm willing to give it a chance. I like biopics, though.

March 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

I thought the trailer was pretty good. It looks more fun and light than something like Ray. Which I think is the right way to go.

March 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTy

Doesn't look like anything groundbreaking, but on the whole I'm a Yes. Unless they take a less route approach and not try to cover the basic "rise, fall, and rise again of..." (Lincoln during the last months of his life; a single "imagined" day in life of Virginia Woolf with The Hours), we already know every beat these types of movies are gonna give us. While they generally don't offer much in the way of surprises, especially if you know even a little bit about the subject, they do tend to be at least be very solid entertainment. I can think of far worst cinematic experiences (or Best Picture nominees) than Ray, and can think of few films I revisit as often as Walk the Line. Maybe I'm just a sucker for some recreated song and dance numbers.

March 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVal

Yes, solely for fact that it's a biopic of JAMES MUTHAFUCKIN' BROWN.

March 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMDA

As someone who has always been mystified by the way Michael Jackson is venerated at the expense of Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Ray Charles, James Brown, Stevie Wonder, and especially Prince, I'm very glad this was made. It looks polished and made with some serious TLC.

March 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDback

I want Viola and Octavia to win in this business -- so YES!

March 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBia

Based on that trailer and Jez Butterworth being one of the writers? No.

March 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

It looks like Viola will have at least one scene when she is 'young' and another in old age makeup so I don't seem to mind this. Seems from the trailer that her role is a large cameo.

March 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRami

The Help would have a been a great miniseries. As a movie it was too long and a little all over the place in terms of style. Viola was marvelous.

I'm a no although if the movie is any good that shot of Old Viola screams best supporting actress nomination to me.

March 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

I'm a NO. This doesn't look interesting to me.

March 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSad man

YES! I'll be there opening night.

March 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDorian

The trailer is a No for me, but could Viola and Octavia be any more on-fire right now artistically? Few performers at the moment excite me more, so I'll probably be there-these sorts of streaks don't last forever, as we are consistently reminded.

March 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJohn T

Will Viola and Octavia be battling it out for this year's Best Supporting Actress Oscar? The Academy seems to quite like two actresses from the same film in that category.
I hope Viola has more than 2 scenes! I'd love her to finally win.
If either of them wins that would be the 5th African American BS Actress in the last 10 years!

March 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMarcos

I am hoping for a Viola nomination / win this year, I mean she managed a nom for basically one scene in Doubt, so she knows how to do it.

March 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRami

"Viola Davis in old age makeup? Nooooooo. Hollywood is so mean to her. She's so vibrant and should be in leading roles, not older than she is roles that signal that they can ignore her now or roles that accentuate fatigue like Aibileen did."

I object to the idea that acting in a supporting role is a come down. Anjelica Huston once said that "lead roles require that you be in the center of things but not necessarily have a comment." If 'Get On Up' provides Davis with a complex character that she can really sink her teeth into (and Suzy Brown does seem like a very interesting woman), then I think that her screen time is irrelevant. Quality over quantity.

And I don't see how old age make up signifies that Hollywood can ignore her now. Julianne Moore and Kate Winslet are just a few actresses who have donned old age makeup for movies, and it didn't hurt them.

March 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMike M.

James Brown is too interesting not to be the least bit curious to see his biopic. Hopefully this is an R. The sex joke in the trailer should indicate that they are going there. Spencer's character is a madame. I want Davis back with a third nomination so she can become the Streep of black actresses from nomination count alone.

March 14, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

Ddback---OMG! That is something I have thought for years.

Maybe--love Viola and Octavia, but I feel that leading black actresses often get relegated to period films and biopics, and some times cop movies (Miss Congeniality 2), or completely wasted (Ender's Game). I remember seeing Angela Bassett in MUSIC OF THE HEART, and thinking, "Thank god she gets to be she's the freakin' principal, instead of just one of the mothers of the kids in the program."

March 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPam

Maybe So but I'm not optimistic at all.

March 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJames T

"It look as bad as Ray."

That's just mean. :)

I feel like Octavia has a much, much smaller role than people seem to be assuming.

March 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

I kept thinking about Eddie Murphy as Jimmy Early in "Dreamgirls" throughout the entire trailer. Take that however you want.

Having never been a fan of James Brown or his music, I can't say I'm terribly interested, but if Viola Davis can parlay this opportunity into another Oscar nod, and possible win, I'm all for it.

March 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTroy H.

No. The world doesn't need "Ray" Part 2.

March 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJulian

It looks like it's being released on Aug. 1, which makes it a fun summer movie, something to go see for the music and costumes and actors...something that's not full of hardware and aliens. YES.

March 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSan FranCinema

Chadwick is a lucky guy...first he gets to play a noble baseball legend, now a crazy soul music icon. I hope next he can do a contemporary film.

March 14, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

I LOVED "The Help" as well, so I'm glad to see some love for it! Hoping this provides Viola with a big, juicy role!!

March 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoe

HERE COMES VIOLA'S OSCAR. PLZ PLZ PLZ PLZ. She needs an Oscar. Should've been for lead actress but I'll take anything at this point.
I definitely think she'll be nominated. She has a great shot at least. She'd be the first black actress to receive three nominations.

The Help was generally solid, not necessarily good or bad, but the acting from that ensemble was incredible and makes the movie immensely watchable. So if this movie has the same caliber of acting, I'm definitely down. I'm here for a Viola/Octavia reunion and talented black actresses getting good parts no matter what.

I'm a Maybe So based on the trailer, but a Yes based on the fact that I know I'll be seeing it for Viola and Octavia.

March 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip H.

even if this is viola's winning part im not interested.

March 14, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterpoppy

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association will have a blast this year after having to claim comedies that weren't comedies for the last Golden Globes, with this, Annie, Into the Woods and Jersey Boys.

March 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterYonatan

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