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Overall Rating
3.98

Awesome: 26.62%
Worth A Look53.96%
Average: 12.23%
Pretty Bad: 5.04%
Total Crap: 2.16%

10 reviews, 79 user ratings


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Ray
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by David Cornelius

"As sweet and as solid as a Ray Charles performance itself."
4 stars

The biggest concern about “Ray” is that while Jaime Foxx would do an exceptional impersonation of Ray Charles, he would, as sadly often happens in biographies of highly recognizable celebrities, not offer much of an actual performance beyond that. Fortunately, this concern is wholly unfounded, as Foxx disappears so effortlessly into his recreation of the jazz great that his performance here never becomes one of mere mimicry. Foxx plays it for keeps, and he turns out an acting job far beyond expectations; if his turn in “Collateral” sold him as a truly great actor, his turn in “Ray” suggests that he was only getting warmed up.

Of course, Foxx’s performance has already been guaranteed Oscar status. Discussing it further would by now only be redundant - just know, if you for whatever reason do not already, that Foxx is nothing short of masterful. So the question then is, how’s the rest of the film? Well, it has its limitations, and yet the limitations do not matter. Despite its being nothing more than a straightforward biopic, with nothing fancy or overreaching, “Ray” is still quite marvelous. It may be Hollywood fluff, but it’s enormously entertaining Hollywood fluff.

The film is directed by Taylor Hackford, who has long made Hollywood fluff yet never fully achieved anything spectacular - his best known films include “An Officer and a Gentleman,” “White Nights,” and “The Devil’s Advocate,” while his closest brush with greatness came at the helm of the concert documentary “Chuck Berry: Hail! Hail! Rock n’ Roll.” Hackford has made a career of being dependable but not memorable. Here, however, he aims to change that. Demanding sharp turns from every one of his cast members (and, wisely, filling his cast with character actors who are recognizable but not distractingly so, allowing a feel of familiarity without the too-common sense of fakiness), pushing to faithfully recreate the look and feel of every era of Charles’ life, finding just the right mix of intimacy and grandness, Hackford has finally managed to craft a picture worth excitement.

The sizzling cast and finely tuned direction help cover for the screenplay (from Hackford and newcomer James L. White), which carries a bit of ordinariness to it. We follow Charles’ rise to fame intercut with flashbacks of his troubled childhood, and we realize that the energy crackling on the screen comes little from the written word. The script is standard biopic fare, nothing truly memorable, and yet when put in the hands of Foxx and his costars - not to mention the spot-on editing of Paul Hirsch, who keeps everything jumping at a rate bouncy enough for us to ignore the film’s two-and-a-half hour running time - things really start to pick up. The script merely states the facts. It’s everyone else who brings it to glorious life.

In fact, even with an average screenplay, the film has only two true distractions. First, the flashbacks are too uneven; the children playing young Ray and his brother stumble through their lines (no fault of theirs, considering their age), and it’s up to the magnificent Sharon Warren (in her film debut), as Ray’s mother, to pick up the slack (which she does effortlessly). Second, the film’s ending is as clunky as there’s ever been for a biopic. Here we are, chugging along through Charles’ stint in rehab, and then, well, boom. A few titles cards and a tacked-on epilogue jump in to wrap up the next thirty-plus years of Charles’ life. It comes out of nowhere, as if the filmmakers just figured there wasn’t much else to tell.

But these are minor quibbles when compared to the sheer enjoyment there is to be had from this film. We get to watch a master performer play a master performer, all the while some of the best music to ever hit human ears gets to come along for the ride. “Ray” may be light and Hollywoodish, but it is so in such a good way. This is a great time at the movies, an unforgettable story about a true legend.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=10361&reviewer=392
originally posted: 02/02/05 07:59:47
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Starz Denver Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Starz Denver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Toronto Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

8/29/09 Jeff Wilder Foxx's performance alone makes it worth viewing. 4 stars
9/28/08 Shaun Wallner Boring!! 1 stars
2/04/08 Pamela White Nice to see that celebritys whole life 5 stars
4/30/07 MP Bartley Foxx is excellent but it's no Walk the Line 3 stars
2/22/07 R.W.Welch Overlong biopic is carried by class A acting across the board. 4 stars
7/05/06 bonnie mckeithren It's obvious,that though you rate many movies you know nothing...about life. 5 stars
4/25/06 Frankie Its not everything i imagined but it was iight 3 stars
4/03/06 JRE great acting, but average movie 4 stars
9/09/05 ralph a true movie expert 32 yrs old jamie foxx really won me over with this performance.if you dont like this film your weird. 4 stars
8/03/05 ALDO Overactors' showcase, Ray's mom was pitiful, script sucked, lighting sucked, Foxx was good 2 stars
7/25/05 Eric Rollins You have to be blind and deaf to enjoy this, retched. 1 stars
7/08/05 ELI AAAAAAARG!!! People didn't like it that much??? screw 'em! 5 stars
6/28/05 JFK good movie, too long i think. Jamie foxx best job 4 stars
5/22/05 Cham A big letdown after all the hype. Jamie Foxx is good though. 3 stars
5/19/05 wendy rogers I liked this movie ok...did not know much about Ray before seeing it 4 stars
5/07/05 edsandiego2 I love the movie. Just listening to the music is well worth it. 4 stars
5/06/05 Michelle Lofton inspirational! 4 stars
5/06/05 Mind Junkie Awesome 5 stars
5/04/05 Kyle Kapetanakis Only watch it to see a great performance from Jamie Foxx, like Charlize Theron in Monster 4 stars
5/02/05 dwarzel Academy awards for doing impressions? 1 stars
4/25/05 OverTheRainbow one of the best in a long time- a must see! 5 stars
4/19/05 Maril Smith Excellent acting by all and very in-depth look at Ray Charles' life 5 stars
4/16/05 Carol Conway Great acting and soundtrack 4 stars
4/15/05 Jeff Gilliland Wow, I didn't know Ray was such a jerk. Good flick, but perhaps overated. 4 stars
4/12/05 Carolyn Rathburn Very well done, good movie. 5 stars
4/09/05 Dan AWESOME. 5 stars
4/09/05 Tanya Grays regina king was great 5 stars
3/26/05 Denise moving 4 stars
3/24/05 dana Gordon A rate of awesome for Jamie Foxx's performance alone 5 stars
3/19/05 Green Grenlim Jamie Foxx is the best thing about this movie !!! 4 stars
3/08/05 Taylor Fladgate Eric Childress, once again, nails a review...Jamie Foxx was incredible. 4 stars
3/07/05 Daveman Cracking performance from Foxx is done no justice by this altogether ordinary biopic. 3 stars
3/02/05 David Tsung jamie deserved the oscar 4 stars
2/24/05 Mary JD Wonderful... I cried... felt such emotions from Jamie Foxx's acting 5 stars
2/23/05 KR Best Picture? No. But Foxx better get that Oscar, damnit! 5 stars
2/22/05 George "The Duke" Feist Amazing Jamie Foxx...3 movies (on TV) up for awards 5 stars
2/19/05 Captain Craig Talent production from start to finish. 5 stars
2/19/05 april gupton good, but a little too long 4 stars
2/16/05 Miranda Lahr Great movie, Rest well ray 5 stars
2/14/05 Jeanine Price Loved Jamie Foxx 4 stars
2/12/05 Sylvia Belle Very interesting biographical information 4 stars
2/12/05 Aimee Shelton Jamie Foxx delivers an amazing performance! 4 stars
2/09/05 Lisa Jochelson I loved this movie. They left a ton out, but I guess they had to. 5 stars
2/09/05 Al Guy A great movie, especially for music lovers. 5 stars
2/07/05 Jim Interesting. Learned a lot of stuff, for instance, "Booger' has gotten bald. 4 stars
2/06/05 Cassandra Farrar AWESOME!!! 5 stars
2/04/05 Tanya Grays Excellent film, Jamie Foxx has proven himself in this movie to be a great actor. 5 stars
2/03/05 Kent B. Jamie Fox did an excellent job in this movie. 4 stars
2/02/05 Rodney Stephens REALLY ENJOYED IT 4 stars
2/01/05 Danita Berg Go get your Oscar, Jamie! I really thought this movie was well done, and Jaime suprised me 5 stars
2/01/05 Lynda Eby Was interesting 4 stars
2/01/05 Andrea Haresign Loved It!! 5 stars
2/01/05 Alison this movie has not gotten near the attention it deserves 5 stars
1/30/05 Gretchen Lowe very good, I was expecting a comedy though 3 stars
1/29/05 Richard Brandt Like many biopics, ends by trying to wrap things up rather than come to a conclusion 4 stars
1/21/05 Uncle Phucker Don't respect the director but he pulled off a pretty damn good movie. Acting is great! 5 stars
12/28/04 efrain Not spectacular, but really worth seeing. Foxx is awesome. 4 stars
12/01/04 malcolm that was 2.5 hours? never felt like it. Foxx's Ray a million times better than Smith's Ali! 4 stars
11/13/04 ownerofdajoint foxx is brilliant;BRILLIANT i tell you;this has best actor for foxx all over it! 5 stars
11/09/04 psycho black dwarf sweet sounds, well delivered dialogue, visually stimulating flashbacks 4 stars
11/08/04 Eric This is definitely the best film of the year! Jamie Foxx was incredible! 5 stars
11/07/04 Suzz great performances; good film making; a bit long 5 stars
11/06/04 Jonetta It was great 5 stars
11/04/04 Arlene mesmerizing performances, fantastic movie! 5 stars
11/04/04 John phenomenal performances - well done and very entertaining 5 stars
11/04/04 vagile Surprisingly good. 4 stars
11/03/04 Kris Jamie will get a nod but the academy wont give him his due...watch 4 stars
11/02/04 Jay It was great, JF should get a nod and the music was wonderful, I agree it was a long movie 5 stars
11/02/04 Shay Knowles I thought the movie was good, a bit long but it kept my interest. Jamie Foxx was excellen! 4 stars
11/02/04 Llorie I thought the movie was amazing and anyone who love music should go see it 5 stars
11/02/04 lulu jamie foxx rocks! 5 stars
11/02/04 Jack Paris Best bio flick that I have ever seen 5 stars
11/01/04 Paul E-motive! Wonderful performance by JF & cast. 5 stars
11/01/04 Naka Somebody should delete that previous comment. Jackass. 5 stars
10/31/04 ajay certainly worth a look. 4 stars
10/30/04 Kimberly Phenomenal 5 stars
10/29/04 Mix Master Mason Foxx rocks, but this is generic bio-pic stuff... like a VH1 behind the scenes kind of thing 4 stars
9/27/04 Dawn Danowski I loved it. The music was great, Jamie Foxx was great! 5 stars
9/15/04 MM Some problems, but Jamie Foxx is amazing 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  29-Oct-2004 (PG-13)
  DVD: 01-Feb-2005

UK
  N/A

Australia
  26-Jan-2005




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