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Cadillac Records

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Held together by an awkward voiceover by Willie Dixon (Cedric the Entertainer), this chronicle of the history of Chess Records comes off as a made-for-TV movie, despite good intentions. Emphasizing the topsy-turvy relationships between rivals Howlin’ Wolf (Eamonn Walker), Little Walter (Columbus Short) and Muddy Waters (Jeffrey Wright), Cadillac Records is too concerned with drama to appeal to true music buffs. Not helping matters is the unrequited love between singer Etta James (Beyoncé Knowles) and label owner Leonard Chess (Adrien Brody), which plays out like a bad soap opera. A brief appearance by Chuck Berry (Mos Def) comes off as an afterthought in a film that simply tries to cover too much ground in too little time. HH

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