Since my parent had all of her records, I was born loving Aretha Franklin. One of my earliest memories is my capri clad Mama and her best friends having afternoon cocktails and laughing and singing along to “Dr Feelgood,” while exchanging knowing looks. I was lucky to have parents that adored all types of music from Motown to classical to jazz to R&B. I stole all my parents records and Aretha’s “I Say A Little Prayer”, “Daydreaming” and “Spanish Harlem” were on constant loop on my first little record player. In recent years, I discovered the album linked below that I listen to all the time of her blues songs. (“I Wonder” is one of my favorite Aretha songs ever.)
My love for Jennifer Hudson began in 2004 when she auditioned for “American Idol” and I feel such an all-out love for her that she feels like family. I was so thrilled when Aretha chose Jennifer to portray her and I have been eagerly waiting the release of this film for years now.
Inspirational biopic and a tribute concert all rolled into one, RESPECT is the best movie of the summer. I cried, I was inspired, and I rejoiced at this amazing portrayal by Jennifer Hudson, who is the only singer on Earth with the Aretha-like chops to take on the role. Both Audra MacDonald and Forest Whitaker elevates anything they are in. He is Oscar-worthy as Reverend CL Franklin. My old friend, Broadway star Saycon Sengbloh and Hailey Kilgore shine as Aretha’s sisters Erma Franklin and Carolyn Franklin, respectively. The only casting misstep was Marlon Wayans, as Aretha’s abusive husband, Ted White. I found him too goofy and unbelievable in the role and the pairing of Wayans and Hudson lacked chemistry. The debut feature of Liesl Tommy known for his stage direction with a screenplay by dramatist and screenwriter Tracey Scott Wilson the film covers Aretha’s life from childhood to the recording of her greatest selling and legendary gospel album “Amazing Grace”. Aretha’s life was unfairly hard. Her father was an autocrat, her mother died when she was just 10, she was molested as a child, she had her first child at just 14, her first husband was abusive and she became an alcoholic.
While the film covers Aretha’s many hardships it never veers into gloom. I do wish that the film had covered more ground though. It ends too soon when Aretha is just 29. Since this film only covered less than half of her lifetime is a sequel called MORE RESPECT in the works? I also wish the film had been a louder, bigger Hollywood-style biopic, like “Ray”. It was dimly lit throughout which made it less glossy and created more of an indie vibe. Aretha was a superstar, I needed glam!