Foxx shines in ‘Ray’ biopic

“I’mma make it do what it do, baby!” Ray Charles spoke his promise to innovate music and bring in hit after hit, regardless of who questioned, criticized or chastised him in typical Ray manner- groovy, baby.

The beloved legendary combined country, gospel, R&B and rock and roll to make the soundtrack of America’s most happening decades.

And despite being blind and having been born to a sharecropping, single mother, he did it all.

“Ray” tells this incredible musician’s story with impeccable charm, honesty and passion.

It leaves no tormented moment, no high or low out of the nearly 50 years of life that the film spans. After taking 15 years to finally get a green light, the film received a blessing from Ray Charles himself.

Taylor Hackford, the movie’s director, thought he may have found the best actor for the role of Ray in Jamie Foxx, but he had to be certain by having the character and actor meet.

After sitting down to play piano with each other, Charles declared Foxx the right man for the job and, in doing so, paved the way for movie magic to occur.

Foxx’s portrayal of Charles was astounding. Touching, heartfelt and inspired, his skills as an actor have somehow been carefully honed between his stints as a stand-up comedian and roles on various television shows.

Prior to this movie, his most memorable roles were in the movies, “Any Given Sunday,” “Ali” and most recently, “Collateral.” Although his work on those films was impressive, it was merely practice for the turn he would take in “Ray.”

Other notably powerful portrayals of the film were Ray’s mother and wife, played respectively by Sharon Warren, a newcomer, and Kerry Washington of “Save the Last Dance.”

Regina King played Margie Hendricks, a Raelette and one of Charles’ numerous mistresses, with startling emotional pitch.

The heat between Foxx and King set the last half of the movie on fire, the way his rising musical career lit up the first half of the film.

From his sad beginnings in rural Georgia and Florida, to his impressive millionaire trappings in Los Angeles, “Ray” runs the gamut of Charles’ complex rise to fame and everything in between.

Twelve children, two wives, a heroin addiction, a conviction of drug possession, participation in the South’s civil rights movement and as many Grammys as he had children: Ray Charles Robinson was one of the most amazing and conflicted artists of that time.

If you never knew, appreciated or understood that before, this dead-on movie will make certain you do before leaving the theater.

It must be seen by anyone who ever loved music, loved Ray Charles or loved movies.

It is worth every penny, and I ain’t jiving you baby!

Grade: A

Contact Tara-Lynne Pixley at