Whatever you do, DO NOT MISS THIS MOVIE!
The Temptations, Why Do Fool's Fall in Love, The Five Heartbeats, Dreamgirls, Ray...basically, if it's even semi-historical, good acting and Black folks are singing...I'm in!
I knew a bit of the history of Chess Records what the heck happened to Chuck Berry but this really makes it plain and entertaining. This cast had real actors. They REALLY sang most of their own songs.
Jeffrey Wright should be on the Will Smith/Denzel Washington pay grade. He has been everybody from King, to a psycho drug lord, to Muddy Waters and never drops character. Wright does not disappoint in this. He carried the dramatic aspects and the comedic aspects of this great script.
Gabrielle Union is so underrated as an actress. She totally delivered in this.
Cedric the Entertainer was also good in this film. (Watch out for his 180 degree moment. The script given to his character allowed him to redeem himself from his disparaging Rosa Parks comments made in Barber Shop.)
STOP HERE --THE FOLLOWING HAS SPOILERS
Bey did OK as Etta James. The problem though is her singing. She goes from 0-60 and sometimes would have done a better job at 35 if you get what I'm saying. I also didn't like her big dramatic scene. I'm OK on the overdose, but I don't like "Monster's Ball-ish" type of love scene. I'm not referring to graphic sex, because she barely kissed the dude. But I don't like how sisters are portrayed getting drunk and high and needy acting and falling helplessly yet hopefully into the arms people who they had distrust for.
What was a bit disturbing too was the fact that she was executive producer of this. I "believe" (and this is an independent and unfounded theory) she did that so she could make sure her best scenes stayed in so she wouldn't get beat out by another cast member at Oscar time like in Dreamgirls. I think she and Gabby would both be considered supporting actresses and it'd be a toss up to me.
Can I just say I LOVED the Howlin' Wolf character in this movie. He was a M-A-N when he showed his big black self up and took his guitar player back from Muddy I said hot damn! Then when he threw the money at Muddy for the funeral I thought they did a great job of using that character to show where Muddy had gone as a man.
I want to interview Mos Def about his character. Seeing his "too Black and too strong" self in the back seat of cars with naked white women was funny. That was some acting there. But it was good casting because he was believable just like Jamie in Ray.