By T. A. Moreland
A group reaches stardom. The lead singer decides to go it alone. We’ve seen it all before. And we see it again in Soul Men. Louis Hinds (Samuel L. Jackson) and Floyd Henderson (Bernie Mac) sing back up to Marcus Hooks (John Legend) in a group called, the Real Deal.
Hooks leaves the group for a solo career. Hinds and Henderson do one album without him and things go down hill after that. While Henderson becomes a relatively successful businessman, Hinds hits rock bottom and serves time in jail. Despite his achievements in the commerce, Henderson misses the limelight. And misfortune gives him a chance to perform again: Marcus Hooks dies. VH-1 wants Hinds and Henderson to revive the Real Deal in a tribute to Hooks. It takes some convincing, but Henderson gets Hinds to agree to perform at the event. But they can’t just do a show before a national audience without some practice. So they hit road. Singing at a several dumps and dives. During those travels they talk, sing, and visit the home of the woman they both loved and find she had a daughter (Sharon Leal) that belongs to one of them.
Soul Men has a special significance because it features Bernie Mac and Isaac Hayes (who plays himself). Both are now deceased. At the end of the film are outtakes and scenes from interviews with Mac.
Unfortunately, Soul Men follows the pattern of too many black comedies, characters that shout, argue, threaten and hit each other. And then there’s the cursing. This movie must set a record for the use of M.F. At least every third or fourth sentence. Every character, young, old, male, or female uses it. And of course the N word is sprinkled in for good measure.
The music scores. It’s definitely a major highlight of the film. Jackson and Mac insisted on doing their own singing. And it’s very clear that it’s Jackson’s voice doing his singing. And he’s good. But with Mac, I suspect he got some voice over and technical assistance.
Soul Men is directed by Malcolm Lee who wrote and directed 1998 hit The Best Man, starring, Taye Diggs, Morris Chestnut and Saana Latham.
Despite its stereotypical elements, there is enough to Soul Men to make it work seeing. It’s entertaining and it’s good to see Mac and Hayes alive again, even if it’s only on the screen.
Soul Men is 103 minutes in length and is rated R for sexual scenes and language.