Tate Taylor’s Get on Up starts off with a literal bang. We first meet James Brown (as portrayed by Chadwick Boseman) while he is wielding a shotgun and preaching about the best practices for using someone else’s bathroom. An idiosyncratic start to a film about the Godfather of Soul, sure, but it works to show how the mighty may have (temporarily) fallen. Brown is clearly a charming and charismatic man (two traits that are played to the hilt by Boseman), but after a rough childhood in the rural outskirts of Georgia and a meteoric rise to fame, it is clear Mr. Brown is struggling with some very real demons. Get on Up aims to show us why, but falters along the way. Growing up in a broken home where love and violence were often one and the same, Brown’s father (Lennie James) runs off his mother (Viola Davis) and then gives Brown to the town’s madam Aunt Honey (Octavia Spencer). Brown learns crowd-pleasing showmanship bringing in business to Aunt Honey’s, but thanks to an eye for the finer things (and no way to afford them), Brown eventually finds himself locked up in jail with no hope for parole. Brown may get frustrated when things do not go his way, but he never gets down on himself, and even in jail finds himself drawn to what makes him feel good: music.