Metascore
71

Generally favorable reviews - based on 42 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 31 out of 42
  2. Negative: 1 out of 42
  1. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Jul 30, 2014
    100
    In 2007, Jamie Foxx won Best Actor for his subtle performance as Ray Charles. Boseman exceeds that solid standard. Incarnating James Brown in all his ornery uniqueness, he deserves a Pulitzer, a Nobel and instant election to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
  2. Reviewed by: Lawrence Toppman
    Jul 31, 2014
    91
    The most important thing, though, is that we come away feeling we know him. He died on Christmas Day eight years ago, and people listening to samples of his music in rap and hip-hop may have no idea why he mattered. Now they’ll see.
  3. Reviewed by: David Denby
    Aug 4, 2014
    90
    This movie will never need reviving. Brown’s innovative rhythms will always make his music sound contemporary.
  4. Reviewed by: Stephen Holden
    Jul 31, 2014
    90
    Like its gyrating, spasmodic staccato beats, Get On Up refuses to stand still. It whirls and does splits and jumps, with leaps around in time and changes in tempo that are jarring and abrupt and that usually feel just right.
  5. Reviewed by: Stephanie Zacharek
    Jul 29, 2014
    90
    Get On Up isn't a perfect-picture; there are moments of awkwardness, little gambles that don't quite pay off. But it's one of those experiments that's both flawed and amazing, a mainstream movie (with Mick Jagger as one of its producers) that fulfills old-fashioned, entertainment-value requirements, even as it throws off flashes of insight.
  6. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Jul 31, 2014
    88
    Get on Up hits all these high points. But the Butterworths fracture the order, fruitfully. They're more interested in making musical and dramatic connections across time and space — something in the '70s triggering a childhood memory, for example — than in laying them out predictably.
  7. Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    Jul 31, 2014
    88
    One funk-tastic musical biopic.
  8. 88
    Artistically, Get on Up rivals “Walk the Line,” with a lead performance on a par with the career-making turns of Angela Bassett (“What’s Love Got to Do With It?”) and Jamie Foxx (“Ray”). With this wonder of the summer, Boseman and Taylor deliver a piece of American cultural history every bit as important as the Jackie Robinson story, a story told with heart, humor, funk and soul.
  9. Reviewed by: Alonso Duralde
    Jul 28, 2014
    88
    Get on Up belongs, as it must, to Boseman, who delivers the kind of charisma, showmanship, sex appeal, and tireless energy that allows us to believe him as the Hardest Working Man in Show Business.
  10. 80
    Tate Taylor’s film cares less about narrative clarity and more about portraying a life lived between the extremes of sin and grace, between the abject and the sublime. It’s lively, stylized, and genuinely surprising.
  11. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Jul 31, 2014
    80
    All the more remarkably, then, this flawed but startling biopic stars another performer, Chadwick Boseman, who fills Brown's shoes with a dynamism that transcends imitation.
  12. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Jul 31, 2014
    80
    While Brown’s complicated trajectory as a cultural and political figure gets short shrift in Get on Up, his music does not – the sequence depicting his legendary “Fever in the Funkhouse” show in Paris in 1971 is an absolute knockout, worth the price of admission all by itself.
  13. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Jul 30, 2014
    80
    So much of Get on Up is uncannily perfect, from its nightmarish Georgia childhood flashbacks to delirious concert re-creations and the casting of Blues Brother Dan Aykroyd as Brown’s longtime manager.
  14. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Jul 30, 2014
    80
    Like Brown, the movie is dynamic and entertaining as hell.
  15. Reviewed by: Brad Wheeler
    Jul 31, 2014
    75
    Where the film fails is in its fizzled, melodramatic ending. The problem is that Brown the man had no resolution – no third act.
  16. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Jul 31, 2014
    75
    The musical numbers, with Brown's remixed vocals and Boseman re-creating his signature dance moves, are mesmerizing.
  17. Reviewed by: Kevin C. Johnson
    Jul 31, 2014
    75
    Cameos from actors portraying Little Richard, Mick Jagger, Frankie Avalon and Alan Leeds add up to some fun.
  18. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Jul 31, 2014
    75
    A triumph — a messy, qualified triumph that even at 138 minutes makes an incomplete case for Brown’s meaning to American life and culture, but a triumph nevertheless.
  19. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Jul 31, 2014
    75
    When Boseman shows us Brown doing his thing onstage, the movie comes alive.
  20. Reviewed by: Jen Chaney
    Jul 31, 2014
    75
    One could describe Boseman’s performance in Get on Up as electrifying, and that would not be wrong. But it’s more accurate to say that watching Boseman transform into James Brown, who died in 2006 at 73, is like watching a dude invent electricity while the idea for electricity is still occurring to him.
  21. Reviewed by: Richard Roeper
    Jul 31, 2014
    75
    It’s the powerful, raw, energized performance by Chadwick Boseman that makes this film worth seeing.
  22. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Jul 31, 2014
    75
    Taylor's movie is overly episodic, but a number of those episodes are marvelous.
  23. Reviewed by: Kimber Myers
    Jul 30, 2014
    75
    It’s a crowd pleaser of a film, whose powerful musical moments can overshadow any smaller issues within the film.
  24. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Jul 30, 2014
    70
    Get On Up... has some problems in the storytelling department, but Boseman tackles with gusto the unenviable task of capturing Brown.
  25. Reviewed by: Sheri Linden
    Jul 28, 2014
    70
    In Chadwick Boseman, it has a galvanic core, a performance that transcends impersonation and reverberates long after the screen goes dark.
  26. Reviewed by: Scott Foundas
    Jul 28, 2014
    70
    Boseman is an empathic presence, and nothing he does smacks of mimicry. He feels Brown from the inside out, the way Brown felt his own distinctive rhythms, and even when the movie itself seems to be on autopilot, Boseman never leaves the captain’s chair.
  27. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Aug 1, 2014
    67
    Though Get On Up never congeals into a satisfactory whole, its fragmentary portrait of the singer at the height of his fame — intercut with his troubled single-parent childhood — effectively shows his invasive power in popular culture.
  28. Reviewed by: Chris Nashawaty
    Jul 30, 2014
    67
    Get On Up too often plays it safe when it needs to be dangerous.
  29. Reviewed by: Dan DeLuca
    Aug 1, 2014
    63
    As superb as Boseman is - moving with athletic grace, doing splits with hair curled in a sky-high pompadour, approximating Brown's rapid-fire, guttural speaking voice without descending to Eddie Murphy SNL parody - he's never quite good enough to convince you you're watching the Hardest Working Man in Show Business up on screen.
  30. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Jul 31, 2014
    63
    If you're a fan of James Brown's oeuvre, the film will keep you interested. If you're not, Get on Up will quickly become tedious and will wear out its welcome long before the end of its 133-minute run.
  31. Reviewed by: Connie Ogle
    Jul 31, 2014
    63
    The concert scenes in this biographical picture are some of its best moments — you’ll wonder just how long the actor had to practice to perfect all those splits — and Boseman’s charisma is irresistible.
  32. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Aug 1, 2014
    60
    Few of the film's secondary characters feel fully developed, with the possible exception of Nelsan Ellis' portrayal of Brown sidekick Bobby Byrd.
  33. Reviewed by: Keith Phipps
    Jul 30, 2014
    60
    The energy never flags, the film conveys a deep love of Brown’s music (which fills almost every scene), and Boseman remains magnetic whether onstage or in quiet moments.
  34. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Aug 1, 2014
    58
    There is no law requiring a biopic to make “nice” with its subject, but Get On Up, which presents Brown almost entirely unflatteringly except as a performer, makes you wonder why the filmmakers (including Mick Jagger, one of its producers) took the trouble.
  35. Reviewed by: Kate Erbland
    Jul 30, 2014
    56
    Taylor’s film so egregiously picks and chooses from Brown’s life that the result is a holey and unsatisfying document that fails to give due respect to much of the singer’s life (especially the more unsavory stuff).
  36. Reviewed by: Odie Henderson
    Aug 1, 2014
    50
    Truth be told, Get on Up isn’t really interested in exploring how important Brown’s music was to any of the numerous styles it influenced. Instead, it just wants to play some of the big hits you love while ticking off a checklist of standard biopic milestones.
  37. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Jul 31, 2014
    50
    This is all good movie material, so far as it goes ... but Get on Up can't go any further. Sometimes damaged people stay damaged, and sometimes popular artists make their contribution and then stay in one place forever. It's a big letdown for everybody, but in a biopic, it's poison.
  38. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Jul 31, 2014
    50
    Despite the linked advantages of generous helpings of the man's high octane music and a star performance by Chadwick Boseman that's little short of heroic, Get on Up is more frustrating than fulfilling, a disjointed film that suffers from having a more ambitious plan than it's got the ability to execute.
  39. Reviewed by: Stephen Whitty
    Jul 31, 2014
    50
    Get On Up never finds its rhythm. Blame most of that on director Tate Taylor.
  40. Reviewed by: William Goss
    Jul 30, 2014
    50
    For better and worse, the story unfolds as the late Brown himself might have related it, scattered across time, told with more impulse than clarity.
  41. Reviewed by: Eric Henderson
    Jul 29, 2014
    50
    As if taking a cue from its own title, the movie emphatically sets its sights on the upward trajectory of Brown's career.
  42. Reviewed by: Ignatiy Vishnevetsky
    Jul 30, 2014
    33
    Get On Up is the Hollywood biopic at its near-worst — a formless, extravagant assortment of historical incidents and lip-synched musical numbers, which ultimately amount to little more than a 138-minute showcase reel for Chadwick Boseman’s technically impressive and utterly opaque James Brown impression.
User Score
6.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 33 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 15
  2. Negative: 0 out of 15
  1. Aug 2, 2014
    9
    Outstanding performance by Chadwick Boseman. His James Brown is spot on. The movie tells the back story of one of rock n' roll's most defining stars. The plot is a bit jumbled with timelines bouncing back & forth, but Boseman's performance makes the trip more than worth the ride. Full Review »
  2. Aug 2, 2014
    10
    No chance I'm ever going to see a better movie. I loved Get On Up , brilliant movie!!!DO see this! A great movie for the whole family. If you only see one movie this summer see Get On Up !!! Full Review »
  3. Sep 30, 2014
    7
    Very good central performance, but frankly, if you didn't already understand why James Brown was an icon, you wouldn't find out from this movie. Clearly Brown had a number of personal demons. Clearly he was popular amongst African-American communities in America. Clearly he was a driven performer. But ultimately you get left with more questions than answers after watching this paradox of a movie. For one thing, quite a lot gets left out, in much the same way as was done for the Johnny Cash story in Walk the Line. So, overall, less clichéd than Ray, but somehow not nearly as satisfying. But if you love the funk, you shouldn't miss it. And good on Mick Jagger for getting it produced! Full Review »