Inside a Legend
Review by Ross Anthony

I was looking forward to this film. I'm a fan of Ray and his music, and have heard some recent interviews with him on the radio. So, like you perhaps, I was expecting to see a film about a resilient talented fellow overcoming many obstacles to success. And, in part, this is in the film. But, the film is also honest enough to follow Ray through some much less flattering times: his heroine addiction, his affairs, his egocentricity. Yes, it's real, but you may find it rather off-putting to witness a hero knocked down a notch or two.

Additionally, in an effort to tell a great deal of story in a short amount of time, the punctuation of events at times becomes so tight it's almost comical. That said, the choice to tell the childhood story in flashbacks works very well to round out the picture and give it momentum.

While Jamie Foxx does a smashing Charles impersonation, I think Sharon Warren as his young mother Aretha steals the show. In her limited screen moments -- she absolutely radiates emotion. My throat tightened with empathy just to look in her eyes. So often characters like this (i.e.: Russell Crow's wife and child in Gladiator) are paper-thin, so flat you have no care at all for them. Here, Warren fills out her character with vibrant life. Kudos too to Regina King for her work as Margie.

Ray Charles Robinson's story is a great one to start with, and the film does a lot of things right. But with over an hour and a half of screen time on his drug-ridden, wife-disrespecting rise to fame -- that's just not how I'd normally choose to spend my evening.

Impressively, (and this may be a spoiler), Ray eventually comes clean with the drugs, but that is precisely where the movie ends. Also, be forewarned, the film is two and a half hours in duration.

Director Taylor Hackford talks about casting Jamie, "Jamie came over and immediately started playing the piano and Ray could hear at least that he could play. So they started playing and Jamie is playing a little funk and Gospel, but then Ray goes into some Jazz, some Thelonious Monk. And I'm thinking, "Oh, no, Jamie doesn't know it.' Ray was saying, 'Come on, man, it's this,' and he keeps playing this Monk Phrase, only Jamie is not getting it. Then Ray gets even tougher, saying, 'Come on, man, it's right under your fingers.' And I'm thinking, 'This could really blow up in my face.' But when Jamie finally got it, Ray, who had been pretty tough on him, said, 'This is it. This kid can do it, see? He's the one.'"

(This film viewed at a Laemmle Theatre.)

  • Ray. Copyright © 2004. 152 minutes. PG-13.
  • Starring Sharon Warren, Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington, Regina King, Clifton Powell, Harry Lennix, Bokeem Woodbine, Aunjanue Ellis, C.J. Sanders, Curtis Armstrong.
  • Directed by Taylor Hackford.
  • Screenplay by James L. White.
  • Produced by Taylor Hackford, Stuart Benjamin, Howard Baldwin, Karen Baldwin at Universal/Bristol Bay/Anvil/Baldwin

Grade..........................B (2/4)

Copyright © 1998-2019 Ross Anthony, Author - Speaker - Solo World Circumnavigator In addition to reviewing films and interviewing celebs at, traveling the world, composing great music, motivational speaking, Mr. Anthony also runs his own publishing company in the Los Angeles area. While traversing the circumference of the planet writing books and shooting documentaries, Mr. Anthony has taught, presented for, worked &/or played with locals in over 30 countries & 100 cities (Nairobi to Nagasaki). He's bungee-jumped from a bridge near Victoria Falls, wrestled with lions in Zimbabwe, crashed a Vespa off a high mountain road in Taiwan, and ridden a dirt bike across the States (Washington State to Washington DC). To get signed books ("Rodney Appleseed" to "Jinshirou") or schedule Ross to speak check out: or call 1-800-767-7186. Go into the world and inspire the people you meet with your love, kindness, and whatever it is you're really good at. Check out books by Ross Anthony. Rand() functions, Pho chicken soup, rollerblading, and frozen yogurt (w/ blueberries) also rock! (Btw, rand is short for random. It can also stand for "Really Awkward Nutty Dinosaurs" -- which is quite rand, isn't it?) Being alive is the miracle. Special thanks to Ken Kocanda, HAL, Jodie Keszek, Don Haderlein, Mom and Pops, my family, R. Foss, and many others by Ross Anthony. Galati-FE also deserves a shout out. And thanks to all of you for your interest and optimism. Enjoy great films, read stirring novels, grow.

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 07:55:25 PDT