5/10 If you’ve seen the trailer for “Respect”, the latest music biopic (this time on Aretha Franklin), you know exactly what you’re in for; a standard biopic that does nothing to subvert expectations. Following last year’s “The United States Vs. Billie Holiday”, this movie follows the same, generic formula that almost all of these musical biopics follow. “Respect” gets some things right but the overwhelming feeling of familiarity provides nothing we haven’t already seen before a dozen times in other biopics. We get the childhood flashbacks, the rise to fame, the substance abuse, the divorces, abusive relationships and eventual redemption. We just saw all of this with the recent Billie Holiday movie but even that movie had the added aspect of the corrupt FBI’s involvement for an additional layer of plot. There isn’t one plot point in this movie that you won’t see coming and movies like this have made the biopic genre extremely worn out and tired. If you are a huge Franklin fan, I’m sure you won’t mind (I for example, enjoyed “Bohemian Rhapsody” more than I should have) but otherwise, you won’t be blown away. As someone who respects Franklin’s body of work but doesn’t consider myself to be a big fan, I do have to say that at least I learned a lot about her life that I didn’t know. She had a tragic childhood with her mother passing, her controlling father and worst of all, being raped for years while underage. I had no idea about her tragic upbringing and it makes it easy to see why she had substance abuse issues later in life to cope with these traumatic childhood events. Luckily she always had religion and one thing I enjoyed about the movie was that they treated the religious aspects with dignity and…respect. Godless Hollywood often looks down on and mocks religious people as believing in nonsense fairy tales so to see a Hollywood studio allow their movie to have a lot of religious elements in it was surprisingly refreshing. Jennifer Hudson is terrific as the Queen of Soul and brought me back to her Oscar winning performance in “Dreamgirls”. The rest of the cast is strong (Marlon Wayans is a solid dramatic actor but his voice/accent seemed to be a little inconsistent here) but this is Hudson’s movie from start to finish. The musical choices were strong and it was smart to end the movie at the point in her life where they did. Despite the strong music, terrific production and costume design and some inspiring performances, this two-and-a-half-hour long biopic goes on a bit too long and follows the exact same story beats as every other major biopic in the last 20 years. Fine for die hard Franklin fans but for the casual movie goer, this is a story we have already seen multiple times before.

#TedWhitesGreatestHits / #DayDrinking / #AKeyChangeIsGonnaCome / #FranklinMyDearIDontGiveADamn / #OnTheRocksSteady / #WhosGroominWho

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s