Thursday, November 6, 2008

Ending on a High Note

Soul Men
Release: 11.07.08
Rated R
1 hour, 43 minutes

Full-Price ($$$$) <
> Matinee ($$$)

Marcus Hooks and the Real Deal rose to stardom in the sixties. Then Marcus (John Legend) realized his star would rise quicker without his backup duo, Floyd Henderson (Bernie Mac, Guess Who) and Louis Hinds (Samuel L. Jackson, Black Snake Moan). The Real Deal tried to make sweet music without Marcus but eventually parted ways due to some "personal differences."

Floyd ran a successful business and is now living restlessly in a retirement community. Jackson reprised his Coming to America role to portray Hinds's post-musical venture. After all these years, Marcus has died and the Real Deal is asked to reunite for a tribute at the Apollo. With only five days until the show, Floyd and Louis must dust off their polyester suits, vocal chords and retro-choreography while setting aside their issues to pay final respects to their friend.

Soul Men, directed by Malcolm D. Lee (Roll Bounce), is one of the last Bernie Mac films and he steals the spotlight. At the top of his game, Mac acts silly, raunchy and seemingly has a blast with his costars. Seeing Mac shout profanities at Jackson made me momentarily sad at his passing but he was just too damn funny to allow the depression to linger.

oud, tough and obnoxious, Jackson is true to form. Both Jackson and Mac sing the Real Deal's hits, which helps audiences understand why their music careers never survived without Marcus. Instead of crafting "authentic" Real Deal hits, the songs are a selection from the classic Motown catalog.

Also unoriginal is the formulaic road trip romp to reach the Apollo. In dire straits, the duo must visit Mac's ex-wife Odetta only to find her daughter Cleo (Sharon Leal, Dreamgirls). Cleo is living with wannabe thug rapper Lester (Affion Crockett, The Boondocks) who hams it up as badly as Ray Liotta in Wild Hogs. There's even a White Chocolate ultra fan of the Real Deal and VH1 lackey, Phillip (Adam Herschman, Accepted), in charge of getting the duo to the show. Thankfully, Lee keeps the pace quick, not allowing audiences to ponder the goofy clich├ęs and unrealistic events that hinder Soul Men's greatness.

Dirty Undies

Still, Mac and Jackson let both barrels loose with extremely vulgar insults, sexual shenanigans and some low key violence. Busty and booty-ful women parade around, some giving glimpses of nudity. Seeming as how pornstars are the new motion picture mainstay, Vanessa del Rio pops in, or rather, out briefly.

The Money Shot
Soul Men focuses on entertainers trying to reignite the spark in their lives. It's such a shame that Bernie Mac's light was extinguished so suddenly. As the credits roll, Lee honors Bernie Mac showing clips of Bernie discussing his success with humility and humor. Regardless of acclaim, fans will flock to Soul Men for Bernie Mac. As well they should, it's his show.

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  1. Hmmm....Samuel Jackson was in Coming to America? Didn't remember...

    Also, don't remember Vanessa Del Rio....which one was she?

    PS: glad I wasn't the only lonely one that kinda liked it.

  2. Sam was the robber in CtA that Eddie beats down. Sad I remember that.

    Vanessa was the older lady Bernie hooks up with in the retirement community.

    It was hard not to like Soul Men. Bernie really sells it.