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Movie Review: Ray

Alternate Title: Ray Charles for Dummies

Story: It's all about the music. Try not to pay too much attention to this simplistic, episodic, almost old fashioned paean to the genius of Ray Charles by director Hackford Taylor and just sit back and listen to the music and watch Jamie Foxx' performance. That alone is worth your time and money.

There are some wonderful scenes and performances (see below) but the structure of this film is overly sluggish and elemental.

We watch the early years of Ray Charles' struggle with poverty, racism, blindness, heroin addiction, womanizing and eventual super stardom through vignettes that all seem to end with one of his great songs. At times I thought each vignette would have been a good hour's TV episode.

The most powerful part of the film was his childhood and, if true, his incredible strong mother.

All that said - check it out for the music and pay tribute to the man,

Acting: Jamie Foxx IS Ray Charles. Within seconds, his performance (or impression) seamlessly melted into the singer's persona (other than a sappy scene near the end where he takes off his dark glasses and sees, and once again becomes Jamie Foxx). Other than that scene I never for a second thought of anyone but Ray Charles. Charles not only approved of Foxx for the role he also helped coached him before his death. Jamie Foxx was wonderful. Sharon Warren, as his mother, was the second best character on the screen. Kudos to this new talent.

Predilection: I am a big fan of Ray Charles. I saw him for the first time when I was in HS and had seen him several times in person over the years. He never disappointed.

Critters: A hummingbird.

Visual Art: Lots of appropriate period art from bad portraits to abstract paintings.

Soundtrack: What can I say? I was toe tapping and head bobbing a lot.

Theater Audience: A small mixed group.

Sappy Factor: 4

Quirky Meter: 0

Drift Range: I admit to looking at my watch many, many times in the last hour. I asked my movie buddy if she thought the film would ever end. She said no...the music would go on and on.

Squirm Scale: My blister hurt from the previous days' NYC Marathon so I squirmed from that pain -- not the film.

Tissue Usage: My buddy was a sobster throughout but I only welled at the end when they played Georgia.

Oscar Worthy: Jamie Foxx is guaranteed to get an Oscar nomination.

Nit Picking: 30 minutes too long.

Big Screen or Rental: Big screen for the music, For some of Taylor Hackford's other films (by the way, did you know he was married to Helen Mirraen)? Proof of Life, The Devil's Advocate, Deloris Claiborne, White Knights, Against All Odds, An Officer and a Gentleman, The Idolmaker.

Length: Two hours and 30 minutes.