Review: Soul Men
Plot: Two over the hill former soul backup singers (Samuel L. Jackson & Bernie Mac), hit the road in hope of making a comeback at the funeral of their former lead singer. Unfortunately, neither has performed in thirty years, and to make matters worse- they canít stand each other.
The film could have been really funny, as itís a distinctly adult, hard R comedy. Mac never really seemed comfortable in PG-13 fare like MR. 3000, and itís nice to see him cut loose- and there are actually quite a few funny gags in the film. The big problem is that the movie very poorly constructed. Comedy is all about timing, but in this, the timing is way off, and bad scenes that should have been cut in the editing room are not only present- but go on forever. The finished film runs about 105 minutes- but this could have easily been cut down to 90 or less, and it probably would have been a much more satisfying flick.
I really canít blame Jackson or Mac, as they both bring their A-game to the film. Itís pretty obvious the two relished working together- as they seem to be having a blast onscreen. The problems with SOUL MEN lay in the rather uninspired work done behind the camera. I hate to blast director Malcolm D. Lee, as Iím a huge fan of his film UNDERCOVER BROTHER- but he really seems to just phone this one in. Itís very flatly directed, and at times it seems like a TV, or direct to DVD film that doesnít belong on the big screen.
I also have a sneaking suspicion that this film was rushed through the post-production process. This is a trend Iíve been spotting in a lot of Weinstein Co., films lately (particularly in their recent film, THE PROMOTION- which seemed to have the guts cut out of it) - and itís possible that the company, feeling that this was a minor effort- did not put the care into this film that it does in some of their more major releases (although this is just speculation on my part). I should also mention that, in addition to Mac, SOUL MEN also marked Isaac Hayesí final onscreen appearance (as himself in what basically amounts to an extended cameo). Both performers get a nice tribute during the end credits that seems to have been more thoughtfully constructed than the film itself.
Itís really too bad that SOUL MEN is not a better movie, as both Mac & Hayes deserved to go out on a higher note. Despite its flaws, if youíre a major Bernie Mac fan, you should probably check it out- as he does have a few funny bits that will no doubt remind you how talented the man truly was.