Film Review – “Respect”

  • Starring: Jennifer Hudson, Forest Whitaker
  • Directed by: Liesl Tommy
  • Rated: R
  • Running Time: 2 hrs 25 mins
  • Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin was one of the most gifted singers the 20th century produced. As such, she deserved a biopic of the same high caliber that has been made for the likes of Johnny Cash (“Walk the Line”), Ray Charles (“Ray”) and Freddy Mercury (“Bohemian Rhapsody”). Unfortunately, her life story in the August 2021 film “Respect” is told in an underwhelming, sluggish manner that leaves much to be desired. However, while it is more akin to a lump of coal than a glass of sparkling champagne, “Respect” does contain a couple of noteworthy performances that give it a little dignity at least.
The story begins in the 1952 Detroit home of Baptist pastor C.L. Franklin (Forest Whitaker) who proudly puts his 10-year-old daughter, Aretha (Skye Dakota Turner) on display to sing for a celebrity-filled party he is hosting. Of course, her father’s guests are amazed by her talent, but it almost never bears fruit when her mother, who is estranged from C.L., later dies unexpectedly. It is only through being forced to sing at C.L.’s church that she even speaks again.
Seven years later, 17-year-old mother of two Aretha (Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson, who would have been about 39 at the time of filming), meets local producer, Ted White (Marlon Wayans) at one of C.L.’s parties. Aretha’s often controlling father wants her to have nothing to do with the charming Ted, but nine unsuccessful albums later Aretha essentially dumps C.L. as her manager and pairs up with Ted instead.
Aretha’s career starts to take off with hits like “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” yet her life is put in the headlines for the wrong reasons when a “Time” magazine story depicts for all the world to see how physically abusive Ted is towards her. She goes on to experience several ups and downs, both career and relationship wise, over the next several years until she has an epiphany to record what would become a double platinum gospel album.
Hudson does a solid job at presenting what turns out to be a thoroughly cursory depiction of Aretha. It’s not the former “American Idol” contestant’s fault as she has proven in the past that she can delve much deeper into a character’s soul. The criticism must lay at the feet of her director, Liesl Tommy (“Jessica Jones”). Too much of Aretha’s life is glossed over, minimized, or simply swept under the rug, which prohibits us from getting a true grasp of who she was. Tommy’s pacing is also sluggish as molasses on a below zero day and the film should have been trimmed by as least 20 minutes. At points it becomes boring for lack of a better word.
Whitaker is a powerful force when he is on the screen. He dominates every moment he is in the camera’s frame as he skillfully fleshes out the emotions of a flawed man who manages to command the admiration of thousands of followers. Wayans is a revelation in a role that requires him to display charm on the surface while also letting loose the anger, jealously, insecurity, and controlling nature of a man who desires all the credit and adoration that Aretha’s receives.
Overall, while the late Aretha Franklin deserves all the respect in the world, her biopic does not.

Win a Blu-ray/DVD copy of “RESPECT”


Media Mikes is giving one luck reader the chance to win a Blu-ray/DVD copy of the bio-pic about the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin,, RESPECT, starring Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson.

All you have to do is let us know in the comments below which person you would like to see a movie about?  Lots of great choices and, I’m sure, there will be lots of great suggestions.

This giveaway ends on Monday, November 15th at 4:00 pm EST.  At that time a winner will be chosen from all of the entries.  Winner will be notified by email.  GOOD LUCK!

Blu-ray Review “Respect”

Director: Liesl Tommy
Release date:‎ November 9, 2021
Actors: ‎Jennifer Hudson, Forest Whitaker, Marlon Wayans, Tituss Burgess, Audra McDonald
MPAA rating: ‎PG-13
Running Time: 2h 25m

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

Who doesn’t love the beautiful voice of the Queen of Music, Aretha Franklin?! The film stars Oscar® and Grammy® Award winner and vocal powerhouse Jennifer Hudson (Dreamgirls) as legendary singer. I didn’t know this when watching but Hudson was actually hand selected by Aretha herself for the role. It was a role that Hudson was born to play. She hits every note with love and respect (See what I did there 😉 ) for the late singer.

Official Premise: Following the rise of Aretha Franklin’s career — from a child singing in her father’s church choir to her international superstardom — it’s the remarkable true story of the music icon’s journey to find her voice.

Besides the lovely Hudson, the all-star ensemble cast includes Academy Award® winner Forest Whitaker (Black Panther, The Butler), Marlon Wayans (Sextuplets, Fifty Shades of Black), six-time Tony Award® winner Audra McDonald (Beauty and The Beast, “Private Practice”), Marc Maron (Joker, “Glow”), five-time Emmy Award® nominee Tituss Burgess (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”), and Grammy® Award winner and Academy Award® nominee Mary J. Blige (Mudbound, Rock of Ages) along with Tony Award® nominees Saycon Sengbloh (“The Wonder Years”, “Delilah”) and Haley Kilgore (“Amazing Stories”). There is no shortage of talent in this film.

As you can image the soundtrack for this film would be very important. Well, this Blu-ray includes a solid Dolby Atmos 7.1 audio track, which perfectly features Jennifer Hudson’s uplifting vocal performances of 17 Aretha Franklin classic songs along with the original song “Here I Am (Singing My Way Home)”. The song sound amazing on this track and deliver the spirit of Franklin perfectly.

The special features include all-new exclusive bonus content including behind-the-scenes featurettes about Jennifer Hudson’s transformation into the Queen of Soul, director Liesl Tommy’s filmmaking process, the creation of the beautiful sets and custom wardrobes, Aretha’s experience at Muscle Shoals, and more taking audiences deeper into the empowering story and world-renowned chart-topping music that has become a global anthem for strength, independence and positivity. If you are a fan of the movie these extras are a solid addition to this release.