2.20.2005

"Ray" not so G-ray-te

I saw Ray this past weekend and Jamie Foxx is a force. The movie, however, falls much shorter. Yes, Ray Charles had a hard life. Yes, Ray Charles was an asshole to his family and everyone around him. Yes, Ray Charles had a nasty drug habit. And yes, Ray Charles finds redemption himself at the end. Predictable, predictable, predictable to the end. That's really how most movies are -- however it's the way the story is told that makes the difference between making the Oscar reel and the Razzie reel.

Make no mistake, Jamie Foxx is Ray Charles. He is the embodiment of the tortured entertainer and there are times during the movie when you forget you're watching Foxx as Charles and feel like you're watching Charles himself. Let that be the shining light that blinds you to the mediocrity of Taylor Hackford and James White's simplistic script and story. It seems people need reminding that the project was originally meant to go direct to television until the death of the man himself thrust "Ray" into the spotlight.

Why make a huge deal of Ray's "re-addmitance" to Georgia at the end of the film, while not playing up his distaste for the Jim Crowe south more during the body of the movie? Save for one scene in Georgia (when he refuses to perform) and a conversation with Quincy Jones, an uneducated viewer wouldn't even know he had problems with the state. Why, also, make it seem that his drug problems seemingly went away with just one visit to rehab? He essentially sleeps it off (albeit with a somewhat ridiculous scene in which a sight-ful Charles talks with his dead mother and dead younger brother).

Sometimes reviewers and members of the Academy get swept up in the good vibes that a movie emits, and gloss over some glaring mediocre qualities -- this certainly wasn't the first, nor will it be the last time.

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