Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.

Soul Men


Review by Patrick Hodges

We were all saddened and shocked by the sudden and premature death of comic legend Bernie Mac in late 2008.  It was even more surprising when music legend Isaac Hayes passed the very next day.  How interesting is it, then, that a movie came out featuring both men not long after their deaths?

Well, to be exact, Hayes was not “featured”, but rather, had a cameo appearance as himself.  Soul Men belonged to Mac, and that’s how it should be.  The relentless back-and-forth that went on between himself and co-star Samuel L. Jackson was hilarious despite the nearly incessant profanity.  That’s right, be forewarned:  this movie was rated R for a reason.  There is crude behavior, some brief nudity, and a nearly unending sting of f-bombs.

However, it was also hysterically funny.  Mac and Jackson play Floyd Henderson and Louis Hinds, who thirty years before were the backup singers in a popular R&B group called “Marcus Hooks and the Real Deal”.  However, when Hooks’ popularity grew to such an extent that he decided to go solo, the fortunes of The Real Deal took a turn for the worse.

Upon hearing of the untimely passing of Hooks, Henderson is invited to reunite with Hinds at Hooks’ funeral.  The trouble is, their relationship fell apart over a woman in the late 70’s and they haven’t spoken since.  And despite the rather squalid conditions Hinds is currently living in, it takes some convincing to join Henderson on a road trip from Los Angeles to Memphis so they can play at the Apollo one last time.

This is, first and foremost, a buddy comedy.  As you can imagine, they use their time together to hash out their differences (again, hilariously), playing a few tiny gigs on the way.  It’s interesting to note that several original songs were written specifically for Mac and Jackson to sing in this movie, and honestly, they’re not bad.

It is rather a surreal experience watching a film whose star has just passed away, and I’m sorry to say it took Bernie Mac’s passing to realize just how funny he is.  Sure, in films like Guess Who or the Ocean’s Eleven series, not to mention his eponymous television show, he often came across as rather gruff and intimidating, but his comic timing is impeccable.  He infused Henderson with a lot of soul (no pun intended) and emotion.  I really got the sense that his character wanted this reunion so badly, to recapture just a smidgen of his glory days, having been relegated to a boring and unfulfilling retirement by his own family.

I would strongly suggest you watch this movie.  As long as you brace yourself for the large volume of swearing, you’ll find it as raucously funny as I did.  There is also a terrific tribute to Bernie and Isaac during the closing credits that will probably bring a tear to your eye, so don’t miss that either.

4 / 5 stars

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