Soul Men [DVD]


By Clint Morris

When someone in a funky suit guts a pumpkin on Halloween you’re generally left with a rather hollow shell with only a trickle of tasty stuff still left inside.

In this case, the dude in the funky suit would be The Weinstein Company, and the trickle of tasty stuff they’ve left inside the rather bare cadaver of “Soul Men” can merely be attributed to its entertaining leads.

Ladies and gents, not much here to see at all – – which is sad, considering it’s the last major film for both Bernie Mac and Isaac Hayes.

Mac and Samuel L.Jackson play, well, the African American equivalents of Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon’s “Grumpy Old Men” – only these two can hold a tune.

Ya see, they’re former members of a Motown-style group that are forced to reunite for a one-off reunion show to salute it’s fallen member (who they weren’t too fond of, considering he quit the band to become a solo artist of the height of their fame). Cue the clichéd stop-off’s (to meet estranged daughters), recurring villains (a wannabe musician who wants revenge on the boys for breaking some of his bones), and the always-necessary trip to prison.

“Soul Men” is fun enough, and the boys bounce well off each other, but there’s just nothing in this thinly-written road-trip comedy. The set-up is quite good, and you suspect there’s going to be some fun times ahead, but they just never come – it just plods along to the finish line.

I still remember Jackson telling me at the Snakes on a Plane junket at Comic Con a few years back that he chose to do that film based solely on the title (“when I read that title, I knew I wanted to do it! “Snake on a Plane!? – that’s all I needed!”), not the script. After seeing some of the crap he’s been in lately, I believe it. The man obviously doesn’t pick his projects based on how solid their storyline is, or who else is involved, but instead whether they’ve got an interesting title (and, assumingly, whether or not they pay well) or mock teaser-poster.
“Soul Men” mightn’t be the flashiest of titles (in fact, one might mistake it for the long-awaited sequel to the C.Thomas Howell comedy of the late 80s) but it does have a reasonably intriguing premise – – maybe that’s what snagged Sam’s interest this time ‘round? Or maybe he simply assumed, from the title, that it’d be his big chance to sing? Whatever the case, the man needs someone to get his career back on track – he’s picking duds like a tight-ass hubby at a thrift store…. Sloppily, rushed, and with the bottom-dollar firmly in mind the whole time.


A so-so commentary, a tribute to both Hayes & Mac, several behind-the-scenes featurettes, and Bernie Mac- doing what he does best – at The Apollo.