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Get on Up | 2014 | PG-13 | - 6.5.5

The story of the turbulent life of the Godfather of Soul, James Brown (Chadwick Boseman), who was abandoned in poverty by his mother (Viola Davis) and later battled financial ruin, drug problems and life in prison. Also with Octavia Spencer, Nelsan Ellis, Lennie James, James Dumont, Dan Aykroyd, Jill Scott, Keith Robinson and Tika Sumter. Directed by Tate Taylor. [2:18]

SEX/NUDITY 6 - A teen girl at a family dinner table smiles seductively at a man seated across from her; a few days later, the girl's brother looks for her upstairs to come to dinner and opening her door sees her standing (clothed) against a bureau and gasping as the man (also clothed) thrusts against her in intercourse; the boy shuts the door and runs downstairs, calling to his mother, "She's coming, Momma, she's coming" and we later hear that the teen girl is pregnant.
 A man and a woman stand on a bed, clothed and they kiss passionately and he takes off his shirt to reveal a sleeveless undershirt, as the scene ends. A husband shouts for his wife to shut her mouth and take off her panties outside their house as he angrily pushes her (please see the Violence/Gore category for more details); she jumps up and wraps her legs around his waist and they kiss as he walks into the house (sex is implied as the scene ends).
 In two scenes, a woman kisses a man on the cheek briefly. A wife and her husband dance in a hotel and she grinds her buttocks slightly against him.
 Standing in an upper story window early one morning and seen waist-up, a nude woman smokes a cigarette (she covers her breasts with her arms). A woman at an airstrip wears a mini dress that bears most of her thighs. Several women in businesses, attending concerts, or dancing onstage wear miniskirts or mini-dresses that bare much of their thighs. A few women and some women wearing formal knee-length party dresses have slightly scooped necklines that reveal cleavage, bare arms and bare shoulders. A few clingy sequined costumes bare the midriffs of two women as they dance. The upper level of a house houses prostitutes seen wearing dresses that bare cleavage and lower legs; a young boy brings soldiers to the house, but we do not see sexual activity. A woman wearing a Mrs. Santa outfit reveals a large amount of cleavage as she bends forward slightly and a man nearby stares at her breasts; the woman's husband tells him to move on. Men in a singing group wear sleeveless jumpsuits revealing some bare chests; as they dance, crowds cheer and some women scream. A flashback shows a dozen shirtless boys aged 6 to 10.
 On a plane, two men stare at a woman's backside and one man asks, "Will he (a third man not present) wear out the plane seat or her seat?"; the woman approaches and tells them that she will take care of her own seat. Song lyrics include the phrase "A man needs a woman" and "I feel like a sex machine."
 A woman smokes in a bathroom stall, seated on a toilet for several seconds; we briefly see her feet under the stall door, with pantyhose around her ankles and the camera cuts to her walking out of the washroom.


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VIOLENCE/GORE 5 - A husband and his wife argue outside their home in the 1940s rural South, pushing and shoving each other (please see the Sex/Nudity category for more details); he chokes her briefly and we see her later as she carries a suitcase outside and stomps off, returns for her little boy, but her husband pushes her away and threatens to kill her before firing a handgun over her head as she walks away alone and the little boy cries.
 We hear that a man continually beat his wife and son and we see a flashback where the man picks the boy up from his chair at the dinner table, slams him onto the table in a sitting position, and then slaps him hard in the face as the scene ends before we see the injury (we see his bloody teeth and lips later). A man dressed as Santa walks into his kitchen off screen and when his wife dressed as Mrs. Claus walks into the kitchen we hear a loud slap; the woman is thrown back into the frame, falling hard onto the dining room table among wrapped gifts and then hard onto the floor, her face hidden. A husband and his wife argue about her not answering the telephone quickly enough; she says there is no phone in the bathroom and jumps back as he pulls the bedroom phone out of the wall and hurls it into the bathroom.
 A flashback shows a dozen shirtless African-American boys aged 6 to 10, a white man blindfolding them and painting numbers on their bare chests with whitewash at a fair attended by whites at night; a white man forces the boys to fight one another in a boxing ring all at once, until only one is left standing and we see the boys punch hard and several fall; the youngest boy falls to the mat and see a close-up of his staring eyes and bloody lips after he removes his blindfold and he watches the nearby band play and rises, punching the last remaining boy extremely hard in the head three times and winning the bout. In a prison during a gospel, a man punches a prisoner in the mouth three times and a fight breaks out; the camera cuts to a prisoner chained to a chair and a man sitting outside the prison infirmary, each with bloody cuts over one eye.
 In a concert, after we hear that Martin Luther King was killed, men jump on stage to dance, but police officers throw them back on to the floor, swinging clubs, but not hitting anyone. Women pull a singer from a stage, but he escapes and climbs back up to sing.
 A man smells a bad odor as he enters a restroom, he shouts about "number two" and carries a shotgun into a meeting occurring in his business hall; men and women gasp and duck to the floor as the man asks who [scatological term deleted] in his bathroom and his shotgun discharges into the ceiling; he calls out "Good God" and a woman begins to cry before he helps her up off the floor and tells her to dry her eyes and that he won't shoot anyone.
 A 17-year-old breaks a car window, steals a suit from the seat and police officers chase him, shooting, but do not hit him; he is arrested and receives a 13 year sentence. Police from two communities chase a man in a pickup truck and surround him after he breaks through a roadblock, where police fire shots into his vehicle; a police officer in a cruiser alongside the truck shoots into the driver's side window, missing him and the man has a vision of his mother sitting in the cruiser's back seat; the camera cuts to the man in a small prison cell, washing his hands and trembling. A boy wears the same filthy long underwear and old shoes every day and in one scene, we see him reach up and pull the shoes off a dead man hanging from a tree (as the boy walks away, we see the rope around the dead man's neck and the top of the man's head).
 A white recording executive denigrates all African-Americans using the N-word, saying that they do not buy albums and have no money. A woman in a hotel complains to a manager about African-Americans as guests until her husband intercedes and the scene ends. A man argues with his mother after not seeing her for many years and she cries and he becomes tearful before a flashback shows that the last time he saw her, he was working at his aunt's juke joint as a little boy and saw his mother and a soldier on a date and when the boy approached her, she denied knowing him. A man and his music partner argue several times and the partner leaves the band. A bandleader argues with his band members, one curses at him and the members all walk out as the leader shouts and throws equipment.
 We hear that a man was born dead and a woman worked on him until he cried -- an unclear suggestion that his mother choked him at birth and she says that she did not want a child. A boy's abusive father drives off the boy's mother (she disappears), leaves to join the US Army, and does not return. A man says that 30 women passed out in the audience during his last gig and tells another man that the devil is a white man in a suit that asks you what you want. We hear that a man's aunt died.
 An older man lies dead on a golf course in close-up with his eyes staring vacantly; we then see the top of his wooden coffin as dirt falls onto it in a grave and a man shovels dirt into the grave, crying as an older man gently takes the shovel from him.
 A boy walks into a Holiness Church and sees people dressed in white, shouting loudly, dancing wildly, and fainting as a band plays and a preacher shouts; a revisit to this scene shows the boy dancing in the middle of the adults and then as an adult, he says that God gave him music for a purpose, to help America and Blacks. In different scenes, either of two older female relatives tell a little boy that the Holy Spirit is in him and will make him great and rich.
 Flying in Vietnam, a band and their leader see bursting bombs near their plane and when they hit turbulence, several men say they fear the prospect of death, but their leader says that God is protecting him and them before an engine catches fire and the plane has a bumpy landing; smoke billows from the engine and after everyone has left the area, the plane explodes into flame.
 A woman smokes in a bathroom stall in a business, seated on a toilet for several seconds; we briefly see her feet under the stall door, with pantyhose around her ankles and the camera cuts to her walking out of the washroom. Several scenes feature male and female dancer-singers dancing and sweating onstage; several faces in close-up drip with sweat as a singer screams lyrics and standing audience members dance and sweat as well. A young boy has a red rash around his mouth, which his mother says is very contagious and his estranged father takes him on a plane trip anyway.


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LANGUAGE 5 - About 2 F-words and a possible third muffled F-word, 10 scatological terms, 5 anatomical terms, 21 mild obscenities, 4 derogatory terms for African-Americans, name-calling (White devil, no-account, Uncle Tom, separatist, Negro, jackass, sucker, Honky), stereotypical references to rural Southerners, African-Americans, Jews, Caucasians, musicians, businessmen, music promoters, men, women, groupies, bigots, police officers, Christians, exclamations (shut your mouth), 9 religious exclamations (e.g. Good God, Oh My God, Lord, My Lord, God Made Your Ears, Let the Holy Ghost Hit You).


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SUBSTANCE USE - We see rolling papers on a table as a man picks up a small plastic packet of white power and adds it to some tobacco in a paper and the camera cuts to him smoking the drugged cigarette, and a woman on the second floor sits on a couch and smokes what may be a marijuana cigarette. A young boy tells busloads of soldiers about the whiskey and pretty girls available at his aunt's place and we see soldiers and women drinking cans and bottles of beer and glasses of hard alcohol as other men play cards, men and women dance as they drink alcohol in several club scenes, and men and women drink champagne after a show and an older woman sits and drinks a glass of champagne. A man smokes a cigarette in his business, men and women smoke in a house and in small clubs, men smoke cigarettes during a recording session, a man and a woman share a cigarette in a restaurant, a woman smokes a cigarette in a house, a man smokes a cigarette in an upper story window of a house, a man smokes a cigarette in bed, several men smoke cigarettes in offices, a man smokes outside his home because his wife does not want smoking inside and wants him to quit smoking completely, and a rolling paper is shown on a table and it is filled with tobacco beside an ashtray full of cigarette butts.


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DISCUSSION TOPICS - Wife and child abuse, abusive relationships, southern poverty, child abandonment, recreational drugs, crime, prison, music as a profession, groupies, multiple marriages and divorce, friendship, loyalty, determination to succeed, money, bigotry, racism, segregation, redemption, success.

MESSAGE - An abandoned child struggled to succeed and became one of the most influential 20th century musicians in the world.

CAVEATS

Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.

We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.

Our ratings and reviews are based on the theatrically-released versions of films; on video there are often Unrated, Special, Director's Cut or Extended versions, (usually accurately labelled but sometimes mislabeled) released that contain additional content, which we did not review.


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