Friday, March 11, 2011

Soul Men

Director: Malcolm D. Lee.
2008. Rated R, 98 minutes.
Samuel L. Jackson
Bernie Mac
Sharon Leal
Adam Herschman

Plot: Floyd (Mac) and Louis (Jackson) were once superstars as part of a Motown style 1960s group called "The Real Deal," along with lead singer Marcus Hooks (real R&B star John Legend) who went on to a legendary career as a soloist. After Hooks' death, the two reunite for a tribute show to Marcus, despite years away from the stage and lots of unresolved issues between them. Hijinks and shenanigans on their way to New York ensues.

The Good: At it's core, its about two older gentlemen with larger-than-life personalities talking a lot of smack to one another and anyone who crosses their path. Both Mac and Jackson excel at saying outlandish things that make you laugh even though you know you probably shouldn't think they're funny. The two also forge a very believable chemistry, allowing them to seemingly ad-lib their way through much of the movie. And for those of us who saw their first "adult" movie back in the late 1970s or early 1980s, there's a Vanessa Del Rio sighting.

The Bad: The plot unfolds in a completely unsurprising manner. It's so paint-by-the-numbers it simply relies on the mouths of the two stars to keep it interesting. This is problematic because on those rare occasions when only one or neither of them are on the screen the movie can no longer mask it's weaknesses. Even when they are both on the screen, it just trudges through things we already knew would happen.

The Ugly: Bernie Mac literally hits below the belt. Ouch.

Recommendation: Fans of the two stars should really like this movie. It showcases their personas and lets them have fun. Since they seem to be having so much fun its easy to let implausibilities and cliches slide. For people who aren't big fans, particularly of Mac, then it'll be an easily forgotten road movie that breaks no new ground. RIP to both Bernie Mac and Isaac Hayes, who also appears in the movie. Warning: Extremely potty-mouthed, our heroes use the various conjugations of mf as a noun, verb and adjective and most places a comma, period or exclamation point should go.

MY SCORE: 7/10

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