Cadillac Records

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +2

Content: -4

Adrien Brody, Jeffrey Wright, Beyonc Knowles, Gabrielle Union, Columbus Short. Drama/Biopic. Written & directed by Darnell Martin.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Leonard Chess scoured the South, checking out the various blues scenes and selling records from the back of his Cadillac as he began to formulate Chess Records. This is the fictionalized account of the rise and fall of his label, which launched the careers of Muddy Waters, Etta James and Chuck Berry.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Solid performances, good soundtrack, and an interesting screen account of the actual events. Those are the pros. And the cons? Well, besides the pervasive language and the several depictions of adultery and fornication, theres the actual singing. Except for a snippet of an Elvis performance, the other songs are reenacted by the films stars. The problem with this decision is that an artist, whether its Frank Sinatra or Etta James, has left an indelible mark on the psyche of Americas music because of something almost indefinable. In the case of Ms. James, her interpretation of At Last is one of the greats. While it is romantic and perhaps even a powerful aphrodisiac, it is also intoned with all the pain and uniqueness of this particular artist. And while Ms. Knowles, one of the films producers, has the volume and control, she is unable to color a note quite like Ms. James. Oh, she does a good job with the song and Im sure there will be many astonished by her ability to channel Etta James, but she isnt Etta James. With all the magic available at a filmmakers editing soundboard, it would have been impressive to hear the incorporation of the actual voices during the songs that made them famous. Perhaps Im being picayune, but Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, and especially the incredible Etta James each had a sound and a charisma not captured in the films musical moments. Was this choice done out of ego? Did Ms. Knowles just want to be heard interpreting an Etta James classic? Did the producers think we would rather hear todays artists than the ghost of race music? Or was there some other more mundane reason? Whatever the reason, I felt the audience was cheated. Oh, it was a good cinematic meal, but we were given hamburger rather than steak.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Sony Pictures

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: None

Obscene Language: The script is loaded with offensive and profane language, including at least 69 uses of the f-word.

Profanity: Around 8 profane uses of Gods name

Violence: There area a couple of beatings, and several threats with a gun; a lead character shoots a man at point blank range the visual is jolting. Blood: Some blood when a man is beaten.

Sex: Several sexual situations and implications, usually not overtly graphic.

Nudity: Brief nudity in one scene.

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: Smoking and drinking throughout; Ms. James was a drug addict, in one scene nearly overdosing on heroine.

Other: None

Running Time: 137 minutes
Intended Audience: Older teens and Adults

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