Movie Review: ‘Soul Men’

November 7, 2008 Updated: November 7, 2008

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Louis Hinds (Samuel L. Jackson) and Floyd Henderson (Bernie Mac) were The Real Deal, a washed up musical group who haven’t been on stage together in over three decades. Louis ends up doing alright after his musical career, owning a healthy car wash business. Floyd goes the opposite way and lands himself a long-term prison sentence. Fate should reunite them when VH1 comes calling for them to perform at a tribute concert for their former front man Marcus Hooks (John Legend).

The late Bernie Mac gives a performance that transcends all of his previous work. He continued to have the entire theater laughing line after line. Be forewarned that Mac’s flavor doesn’t play well to the ears of those who disdain profanity. His comedy leaves you gasping for air otherwise.

Samuel L. Jackson does well in stepping out into a comedic character, while maintaining that hard edge that’s defined his characters from his break out role as a gangster who finds God in “Pulp Fiction,” Jedi Master Mace Windu from the “Star Wars” prequels, and his recent menacing cop portrayal in “Lakeview Terrace.”    

The on-screen charisma between Mac and Jackson seems as though they’ve been doing this since childhood. I would credit this chemistry to their raw talent and their off screen friendship.

The comedy throughout maintains an unabashed vulgarity, making this one movie event that should remain for adults only. Despite pushing the envelope, the film has an endearing quality and you continue to find yourself laughing out the words, “what’s next?”

While no one comes out for this film expecting art-house camera angles, the filming and cinematography could have used some improvement. Understandably it is a comedy, but some detail should be made to making the scenes seem realistic. For example, in one scene where Louis and Floyd ride in a 1971 lime green Cadillac El Dorado, the shot provides an obvious green screen background.

Looking past this one minor criticism, one great feature is the music and dancing performed by Bernie Mac and Samuel L. Jackson. They actually recorded their own voices to create the music, and they don’t employ any stand in camera doubles for the dance moves, which provides a real authenticity to their performances.

Another element that lends credibility is having two generations of real deal soul men appear in the film. Isaac Hayes, an Oscar winner for creating the music to the timeless 1971 film “Shaft” provides a cameo, and current chart topper John Legend is the plot device that reunites Mac and Jackson.

Soul Men is one of the funniest and most memorable comedies of the year. Bernie Mac gives his all in this performance that truly showcases his comedic virtuosity.

The precious timing of the film’s production represents a bitter-sweet serendipity. Two true soul men saw their lives come to an abrupt end shortly after the filming wrapped. “Soul Men” is dedicated to the memory of Bernie Mac and Issac Hayes.