The Bobby DeBarge Story (Review)

In TV One’s original film The Bobby DeBarge Story produced by Swirl Films, the 90-minute biopic which expands from the networks series UNSUNG, chronicles the life of falsetto master, the oldest sibling and founder of the talented group DeBarge.

Written by Norman Vance, Jr., directed by Russ Parr, the focus is on the downfall of a conflicted DeBarge, who despite having good looks, “light bright, damn near white skin” which arguably was looked at in the music industry as being more marketable, couldn’t seem to conquer his inner demons.

Ironically, DeBarge who had what some would consider as having the looks and talent, was abused as a child which brought out his insecurities cutting his promising career short way too soon. He died at just 39 years old.

In the role of Bobby DeBarge, played by Roshon Fegan (Greenleaf), filmmakers managed to create a film that at times causes uncomfortable laughter, mostly at the wigs worn by the actors and quirky lines. To the contrary, watching the decline of the singer was heartbreaking. 

Cast members of The Bobby DeBarge Story taking a fun photo

DeBarge definitely had a tumultuous life. He was sexually abused by his own father as a child, battled a drug addiction, rocky relationships with his siblings and women, including a brief relationship with LaToya Jackson of the famous Jackson family, all of which played a apart in his struggling musical career.

In an interview with The Chocolate Voice at the LA Premier and screening at Harmony Gold on Sunset Blvd., Fegan shared that his familiarity with DeBarge came from listening to the Motown signed group as a child with his parents, and as a sample on the the hit record “Throw Some D’s by rapper Rich Boy featuring Polow Dad Don (2006).

Fegan’s outstanding portrayal as a tormented DeBarge, more notably in heated scenes with his mother Etterlene DeBarge, played by Tyra Ferrell (Boyz in the Hood) and younger brother James, portrayed by R&B singer Adrian Marcel, who certainly has the vocals to meet the high standards of the legendary DeBarge family. Prior to the screening Marcel hit the stage and belted out impromptu the DeBarge hit “I like it.”

Another R&B talent starring in the film is R&B singer Lloyd (Lloyd) Polite, who stars at Gregory Williams, founder of the group “Switch,” who throughout the film was at odds with DeBarge. Tommy DeBarge played by actor Blue Kimble, was also a member of the group “Switch.”

The story’s focus was more on DeBarge’s inner struggles versus his brilliant music making. With that in mind, if you’re hoping to sing-along to the sounds of  Bobby DeBarge’s high falsetto in the 70’s Group Switch, you’ll hear minimal.  In a few scenes the group DeBarge performs, and the audience will get to see Bobby’s reaction to his siblings success.

However, at the end of the film, the audience will enjoy the sounds of  Bobby’s son, Bobby DeBarge, III,  who’s voice, which includes a familiar falsetto that is most likely genetics. After all, the entire DeBarge family can saaang!

The Bobby DeBarge Story executive produced by Teri DeBarge and Eric Tomosunas  airs on TVONE, Saturday, June 29, 8/7 central time.

Review overview
8 COMMENTS
  • Lina July 3, 2019

    Two hours of my life that I won’t get back. Rashon was amazing but the movie was clumsy and not well written.

  • Ash July 3, 2019

    so, you’e not going to acknowledge that the movie was convoluted, weirdly paced and left you with far more questions than you had answers?
    the unsung was done far better than this movie. often times, you didn’t know who was talking – because they never really introduced any characters. you never knew how much time past and, there were situations that directly contradicted that Unsung that was done. It felt like they kept the movie playing during the commercial break. smh, there were no answers or insights to his life. and MANY things were glossed over.

    • Dorothy Jackson July 8, 2019

      We all know that Bobby Debarge had a bright future, also that he had personal issues to work out. Those were the issues we wanted to see played out in the movie. Good or bad , happy and sad…we wanted to see this. In the future go ahead let the fans know the truth , if you don’t want the truth told…keep it to yourselves. Too many things were skipped over and just left us guessing and going “Dang , what did I miss?” Get it together people, truth sells.

  • Dorothy Jackson July 8, 2019

    movie missed a lot of high points…was not thought out ..just told us things we already knew. did not touch on the trips ,hanging with gay guys in Hollywood. Almost seemed as though the writer/producers were trying to protect his sexuality…come on tell the truth, it was his life…it would had better reviews. I heard no raving…missed their mark on this one.

  • d. brown August 15, 2019

    Personally, I ended up enjoying the movie. I think all cast members did beautiful portrayals of the family………..even down to the wretched father.
    When I was a teenager, believe me, I sat in my room many a night listening to WWRL radio station……..(.that used to be 16 on the A.M. dial), and I would wait patiently for a few tunes that would come on practically the same time every day back in the day. One of the songs was Phyllis Hyman’s ‘You Know How To Love Me,’ Angela Bofill’s ‘She’s An Angel,’ Bobby Womack’s ‘If You Think You’re Lonely Now,’ and Switch’s ‘There’ll Never Be.’
    ‘I Call Your Name’ came along for me a bit later. I would sit in my room and stare at my Switch album and just be in euphoria………….I never saw 6 more gorgeous men in my life……of course Bobby reigned supreme, but Jody was not too far behind either. The harmony, the musical arrangements were just superb. Phenomenal for the time. Bands like that are not around anymore…………neither are the men, (as far as I’m concerned), but I must say growing up in the 60’s, 70’s…..they were the best times in our music history, and in our world. I was blessed to see and hear groups like Switch. Bobby was unique and I don’t care that he had demons to battle. With abuse, you either win or lose. I don’t see that he lost. He had a very unfortunate sad beginning. (Many of us do). He shined briefly, but he shined. He was a beautiful man who looked out for his family, while unfortunately damaging himself. Back in those days that kind of talk was not run of the mill conversation at the dinner table, and many have always been in denial. I thank them for being brave enough to tell the story at all. Many will be helped because of it. God bless the Debarge Family. …………all of them……….. and Teri, I would have been your competition at the time. HAHA

  • d. brown August 15, 2019

    Personally, I ended up enjoying the movie. I think all cast members did beautiful portrayals of the family………..even down to the wretched father.
    When I was a teenager, believe me, I sat in my room many a night listening to WWRL radio station……..(.that used to be 16 on the A.M. dial), and I would wait patiently for a few tunes that would come on practically the same time every day back in the day. One of the songs was Phyllis Hyman’s ‘You Know How To Love Me,’ Angela Bofill’s ‘She’s An Angel,’ Bobby Womack’s ‘If You Think You’re Lonely Now,’ and Switch’s ‘There’ll Never Be.’
    ‘I Call Your Name’ came along for me a bit later. I would sit in my room and stare at my Switch album and just be in euphoria………….I never saw 6 more gorgeous men in my life……of course Bobby reigned supreme, but Jody was not too far behind either. The harmony, the musical arrangements were just superb. Phenomenal for the time. Bands like that are not around anymore…………neither are the men, (as far as I’m concerned), but I must say growing up in the 60’s, 70’s…..they were the best times in our music history, and in our world. I was blessed to see and hear groups like Switch. Bobby was unique and I don’t care that he had demons to battle. With abuse, you either win or lose. I don’t see that he lost. He had a very unfortunate sad beginning. (Many of us do). He shined briefly, but he shined. He was a beautiful man who looked out for his family, while unfortunately damaging himself. Back in those days that kind of talk was not run of the mill conversation at the dinner table, and many have always been in denial over the subject matter, which is rearing its ugly head more and more in our society lately.. I thank them for being brave enough to tell the story at all. Many will be helped because of it. God bless the Debarge Family. …………all of them……….. and Teri, I would have been your competition at the time. HAHA

  • Betty September 28, 2019

    The also didn’t mention how bobby would rape his brother tommy for years.

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