A friend saw Leisl Tommy and Jennifer Hudson‘s Respect (UA Releasing, 8.13) last summer, and his basic assessment was “mildly okay Aretha Franklin biopic but with an excellent lead performance from Hudson, or at least excellent singing.”
Jam Report‘s Doug Jamieson: “A paint-by-the-numbers biography…saved by the magnificent performance of Jennifer Hudson, impeccable production values, and the jukebox soundtrack.” Variety‘s Peter Debruge: “Flattering but flat, this overly respectful biopic steers clear of revealing the traumas that shaped the soul legend.”
A gifted young girl, loved and nurtured, has a singing destiny, and damned if she doesn’t fulfill it. Early childhood in Memphis and Chicago, the usual hurdles and hardships, and then wrapping it all up with the January 1972 Amazing Grace concert inside L.A.’s New Temple Missionary Baptist Church.
A friend saw Respect months ago, and I must have asked three or four times if that Muscle Shoals recording studio episode (i.e., the recording of “I Never Loved A Man”) is part of Respect or not. He never quite gave me a clean answer, but I’m getting a feeling that it might not be, possibly because the savior of that session wasn’t Aretha but the great Spooner Oldham, who came up with the Wurlitzer riff that made that song work from the get-go.