Rated R for pervasive language and sexual content including nudity.
Nov. 7, 2008
Samuel L. Jackson, Bernie Mac, Sharon Leal, Affion Crockett, P.J. Byrne
Malcolm D. Lee
MGM Distribution Company
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By Beth Patch
-Ironically, the story line of Soul Men focuses on the death of lead singer, Marcus Hayes (played by soul star John Legend), and two of the stars in the movie, Bernie Mac and Isaac Hayes, died before the movie was released. At the end of the movie, Bernie Mac is highlighted in a few outtakes, speaking candidly about how he’s spent his career giving 150 percent. He said, “I can’t cheat myself. I can’t cheat the audience.” His performance in this movie exemplifies his ability to personify comedy. He was a naturally funny man and he doesn't disappoint his fans with this film, one of his last performances on earth. In an almost eery statement in light of his passing, Mac said, “My task here on earth is that I have to work harder than the average bear.” The movie is “dedicated to Bernie Mac and Isaac Hayes, two real soul men.”
Bernie Mac and Samuel Jackson star in this new comedy-drama about two aging men who were back-up singers in a successful soul music trio in the Motown era. Unfortunately, they were the odd men out when the lead singer Marcus Hayes decided to go solo at the height of their success; and as the film begins we meet them in the lives they’ve led since leaving the stage roughly 20 years earlier. Louis (Jackson) spent time in prison and works as a car mechanic. Floyd (Mac) has retired from a pseudo successful car wash ownership and lives in a retired citizens’ upscale community.
When lead singer Hayes dies, his public relations manager wants to reunite the back-up singers for a big rendezvous with fans to honor his passing with a big concert tribute. Louis is reluctant to join Floyd for the comeback; they have unresolved differences from their days on the stage. But, Floyd entices Louis to take a chance and relive the good times they had.
The chemistry between Bernie Mac and Samuel Jackson works so well it makes you wish they had done something together before now. Watching these two on stage, singing soul tunes, wearing polyester matching suits and performing the choreographed moves typical of the back-up singers of that era was comical in itself – very comical.
There were several slapstick humorous scenes as they travel across country to Tennessee for the big farewell. Floyd had booked them as performers for a variety of low dollar nightclubs along the way to help them get back in the swing of things, including a line-dancing country western club which was side-splitting funny.
Unfortunately, the humor was overshadowed by heavy doses of obscene language, sex scenes, nudity and vulgarities. Had they cleaned up the film, there may have been roughly 20 minutes of good clean humor left, most of which I described in the first few paragraphs above.
The film makes light of casual sex and degradation of women, except for one woman, Cleo (Sharon Leal), the secret illegitimate daughter of Louis who joins the pair on the last leg of the trip. Her value is defended by both men when they happen upon her abusive relationship with her live-in boyfriend at one point along the way when Floyd thought they'd be able to stop by his ex-wife's to borrow some money. Their desires to keep her safe and encouragement for her to sing professionally add a touch of morality to the film.
The most disturbing visual parts of the film were on two different occasions when Floyd enjoys one-night stands with women old enough to be receiving Medicare and ravenous for Floyd. Full frontal nudity and vulgar comments accompany each encounter. These scenes along with the frequent obscenities reduce this film to unsuitable.
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