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Though it's been some twenty years since they have spoken with one another, two estranged soul-singing legends agree to participate in a reunion performance at the Apollo Theater to honor their recently deceased band leader. |
Bernie Mac shines in the last film he made before his premature death. He was once quoted as saying that when he stars in a movie he'll stick to the lines of the screenplay for a few takes and then in most takes he just Bernie Mac's it!.
So in Soul Men, Bernie Mac just Bernie Mac's it in many of the scenes. A lot of this film is about just that -- Bernie Mac trying to do his best to entertain and make the audience laugh. And this reviewer did indeed laugh many times.
If I were a Hollywood marketer I would probably try to sell this film as the 'Black Bucket List'. Two guys who go on a cross country trip to the Apollo so they can perform in front of a large audience for the first time in over 20 years. During their four day road trip they fight, connect, shoot guns, have sex with groupies, meet one of their long lost daughter's, stop musical hacks, break out of jail and fight some more -- sometimes with each other and at other times with others. They get a lot done and during this time there's a whole lot of humor to go with the male bonding.
Full disclosure. I do know director Malcolm D. Lee. I spent almost 5 months with him on the set of his 2001 flop Undercover Brother. I've worked on a lot of film sets in various positions
Malcolm D. Lee had no idea where he was going when he directed Undercover Brother. He was dealing with an Executive Producer who wanted to direct the film himself, plus a lead actor who thought he was a bigger star than he was (this was also the film where I learned what a Entourage was!). He was over his head and perhaps too young to tackle such a large production. That film was a bomb and it practically ruined his career.
In Soul Men, Malcolm D. Lee is working with two big stars in Bernie Mac and Samuel L. Jackson. And it's a road film with a whole lot of of sets and locations with a minimal budget. A tough film to pull off. You must be accountable for Bernie Mac's improvisation while also knowing that Samuel L. Jackson is a perfectionist and demands as many takes as possible before he moves on to the next scene.
Soul Men is not a perfect film but it's a film that I like to call the golden nugget film. A golden nugget film is a movie that has a basic script but because of the onscreen talent involved, they take things to another level. Mac and Jackson have a lot of great chemistry. They probably say Mother F**ker to each other over 100 times, but each time they say it it's funny for some reason. They play two guys who are fighters in life and understand that life really is a road trip. There are some ups and there are some downs. But it's all about having some fun.The bottom line is that Malcolm D. Lee holds Soul Men together and actually tells a solid story about two aging musicians looking for their one last chance. Yes, this story has been done before, but not with Mac and Jackson attached. I hope Bernie Mac was proud of his last role.
After the movie is over please stay in your seat as there is a nice 5 minute documentary while the credits role of Bernie Mac while he was on set making Soul Men. Mac was just a guy who was a tireless worker and had a lot of pride in what he did. A great role model and a nice gesture for the producers to put together this video.
This is also the last role of Isaac Hayes, who plays himself in the film.
3 stars out of 4! center>