Soul Men

2009-04-06 14:20

What it's about:

Back-up soul singers and long time rivals, Louis Hinds (Samuel L. Jackson) and Floyd Henderson (Bernie Mac), are forced into reviving their 60s soul act The Real Deal and travel across the country to perform a tribute show at the Apollo Theatre in New York City when a former bandmate dies.

What it's about:

It wouldn’t be far-fetched to say that the first thing you notice about Soul Men is the cast. Not only is it studded by Hollywood heavyweights such as Samuel L. Jackson and John Legend, but it also features the recently deceased legends – and soul men in their own right – Bernie Mac and Isaac Hayes. The director, Malcolm D. Lee, may be remembered for his work on Undercover Brother, a film that makes a much better case for itself than his latest release.

Yes, Soul Men is a whole lot of awfulness interspersed with the odd gag here and there to nudge out the occasional grin from anyone old enough to find slapstick humour cheap and exhaustive; a funny thing, considering that the film’s language and nudity are the only things which bring it up and confine it to ‘mature’ viewing.

The first obstacle the movie has is the generic odd-couple-goes-across-the-country plot, with Floyd (Bernie Mac) playing the loud caricature of a Viagra-popping burnout and Louis (Samuel L. Jackson) standing in as the morose, caustic ‘Straight Man’ that berates him for his charming idiocy.

This wouldn’t be a bad thing in itself, were the plot not so excruciatingly predictable and the scenes set up to bring out that familiarly exaggerated side-show clown Hollywood loves as its black funny man (a disservice to Bernie Mac, whose stand–up comedy was actually acclaimed for wit and nuance).

As the story unrolls we meet a host of characters and themes you might recognise from other avenues of black comedy: domestic violence, ignorant thugs, white women, a trusty Cadillac, and an absent father. The movie has its highs and lows the way you’d expect it to: with tears and laughter, deception and confession, redemption and reconciliation. It’s the same ol’ heart-warming moral rediscovery stuff that fails to engage the viewer in an imaginative way or takes stock of their (emotional) intelligence.

That said, Soul Men isn’t all bad. Yes, it's terribly written, the direction is mediocre, but it's well-acted. True, the talent is wasted on the material, but the performers are engaging, and the chemistry between Jackson and Mac is undeniable.
If only it had been put to better use.

And by that I don’t mean another barbershop, wedding retreat, family reunion, vacation, or backyard barbeque farce – I mean a black comedy with at least some semblance of originality.

Raunchy and predictable, Soul Men is an exercise in awfulness. This is not the way we’d like to remember Bernie Mac and Isaac Hayes.

Bra G 2009/04/07 8:39 AM
Two "giants" in the world of entertainment served the world with love and excellence Issac Hayes as a musician/actor and Bernie Mac as a comedian/actor.They brought abundant happiness and joy to us and they have left a legacy and template for those coming up to reach and aspire too. We will miss them but they will never be forgotten.
MV 2009/04/07 2:51 PM
Bernie Mac, the funniest mutha**** ever!!! Check out his stand up comedy!! Theres only 1 MAC, can never be replicated!!!
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