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Soul Men – Movie Review

March 22, 2009 Written by JP    [Font too small?]

It’s a story as old as time. Three friends from humble beginnings rise up from poverty to form an influential soul band. Their music shines and all the trappings of success come with it. All seems well until the charismatic lead singer decides to splinter off and plot a career path of his own. The two remaining friends try their darnedest to make it without the third wheel, but it’s just not meant to be. One of the two falls on hard times and ends up in prison. The other somehow finds his way into a career as a sleazy car wash magnate. Wait a second. Maybe this story isn’t as old as time after all. But it is the backstory and beginning of the plot of the film Soul Men.

The soul men in the title are played by Bernie Mac and Samuel L. Jackson. They haven’t spoken to each other in decades and they’re both happier for it. The break up of their musical partnership was an ugly affair that neither wants to revisit. But fate has other plans. The lead singer who went on to mega-stardom without them has just died, and a star-studded memorial service is in the works. The promoters of the memorial service want the two remaining soul men to re-unite and perform together for the first time in over 20 years.

What ensues is a cross country trek to the Apollo Theater in Memphis where the memorial will be held. At least that’s the plan. But when you put two over-the-hill, male divas in the same car with a loaded gun and hardly any money between them … all bets are off. At this point I’d usually include a quote or two from the film I’m reviewing. I’d like to do that but, it’s nearly impossible to find something “clean” enough to post. Soul Men gives Scarface a run for its money in the cursing department.

I went into Soul Men with a strong disposition towards liking it. This is one of the last films in which the talented comedian Bernie Mac appeared. I’ve been a fan of his ever since laughing myself dizzy watching his work in Bad Santa. He was a very talented performer who often didn’t find material that matched his gifts. Samuel L. Jackson is also an actor I look forward to on the silver screen. I especially like him in smaller independent pictures such as Hard Eight. The trouble here is that the script just isn’t that funny. It’s as if the filmmakers mistook a relentlessly raunchy screenplay for genuine laughs.

It’s evident that the leads in this film tried very hard to make the most of a rather slim script. On occasion, they were able to eek out a laugh or smile from me. But mostly, I just felt disturbed by a lot of the crude attempts at humor that fell completely flat. The performers and the audience deserve better than this.

The only people that I can genuinely recommend this film to are die hard Bernie Mac fans. If that’s you, you’re going to want to see this. As bad as it is, you still get a glimmer of his comedic magic that even the worst film couldn’t completely squander.

Soul Men is Rated R for virtually non-stop profanity, sexual content, nudity and some violence. This is a hard R-Rating. You’ve been warned!

Be well!


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