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Malcolm D. Lee
Samuel L. Jackson, Bernie Mac, Sharon Leal, Adam Herschman, Sean Hayes, Affion Crockett, Fatso-Fasano, Jackie Long, Mike Epps, John Legend, Isaac Hayes
Writing Credits:
Robert Ramsey, Matthew Stone

Out of sync. Never out of style.

Superstars Samuel L. Jackson and Bernie Mac are Soul Men - the hilarious story of Louis (Jackson) and Floyd (Mac), a popular singing duo back in the day, who went their separate ways and never spoke again. When the death of their former group leader (John Legend) reunites them and sends them driving cross country for a tribute concert at the legendary Apollo Theatre, they will have only five days to bury the hatchet on a twenty-year-old grudge.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$5.401 million on 2044 screens.
Domestic Gross
$12.081 million.

Rated R

Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 99 min.
Price: $28.95
Release Date: 2/10/2009

• Audio Commentary with Director Malcolm D. Lee and Writers Matt Stone and Rob Ramsey
• “The Soul Men: Bernie Mac and Samuel L. Jackson” Featurette
• “The Cast of Soul Men” Featurette
• “Director Malcolm Lee” Featurette
• “A Tribute to Bernie Mac” Featurette
• “A Tribute to Isaac Hayes” Featurette
• “Boogie Ain’t Nuttin’: Behind the Scenes” Featurette
• “Bernie Mac at the Apollo” Featurette
• Trailer
• Previews


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Harman/Kardon DPR 2005 7.1 Channel Receiver; Toshiba A-30 HD-DVD/1080p Upconverting DVD Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Soul Men (2008)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 9, 2009)

All around the world, C. Thomas Howell fans were distraught to discover that 2008’s Soul Men wasn’t a sequel to 1986’s bizarre race-based comedy Soul Man. Instead, Men looks at the lives of a veteran musical duo. Louis Hinds (Samuel L. Jackson) and Floyd Henderson (Bernie Mac) performed as “The Real Deal” behind singer Marcus Hooks (John Legend). When Hooks went solo in the 1970s, the Real Deal attempted to branch out on their own, they called in quits in 1979.

After that, their lives took divergent paths. Louis went to prison for attempted robbery, while Floyd opened a successful bikini car wash. Floyd’s nephew (Mike Epps) pushes him to live in a deluxe retirement community, and Louis works as a mechanic.

When Hooks dies suddenly, the son of their former manager (Sean Hayes) tries to get the Real Deal to reunite for a tribute concert. Floyd leaps at this chance to recapture prior glories, but lingering bad blood leads Louis to resist Floyd’s pleas. The promise of a decent payday convinces Louis, though he refuses to fly to NYC for the show.

This means that Floyd and Louis must take a cross-country road trip from LA to NYC so the can make the concert. Along the way, plenty of friction arises as the men get to know each other again. Additional subplots come along for the ride as well.

Soul Men will go down as Mac’s final project; Isaac Hayes does a cameo, and it acts as his last hurrah as well. I’d like to say that those guys went out on top, but I don’t want to lie. While not a disaster, the flick has lots of problems and rarely satisfies.

On the positive side, Mac and Jackson enjoy a good chemistry. I can buy them as longtime collaborators, as they show a nice connection. They seem eminently believable as aging partners and bring a little life and heart to the project.

But just a little, as they can’t overcome the movie’s many flaws. The main issue stems from its lack of consistency. Soul Men wants to be both a broad comedy and a heartfelt drama. Essentially it’s Grumpy Old Men with a gimmick, and that’s not enough to succeed.

The poor way in which it meshes the two sides creates notable problems. There’s no continuity, as the flick butts heads with itself in terms of tone. A better-made film might be able to combine the comedy and drama in a satisfying way, but this isn’t that film.

Even at a relatively brief 99 minutes, Soul Men also feels too long. It throws in some unnecessary subplots, none of which add anything to the movie. This means the movie feels padded as it struggles to fill its running time.

The poor integration of the two genres is really what undoes Soul Men, though. It doesn’t have enough heart to provide a satisfying drama, and it’s not funny enough to be a good comedy. A few decent performances aren’t sufficient to keep this from becoming a tedious disappointment.

The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio B-/ Bonus B-

Soul Men appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The movie came with a reasonably good transfer.

Only mild problems connected to sharpness. Though a lot of the flick seemed accurate and concise, a few shots looked slightly soft and ill-defined. These were minor issues, though, so expect the majority of the film to provide good delineation. I witnessed no jagged edges or shimmering, and I saw no signs of edge enhancement. Source flaws were absent as well.

In terms of colors, Soul Men provided a nice array of hues. The stage segments offered good opportunities for lively tones, and the transfer brought them out in a satisfying way. Blacks appeared dark and tight, but shadows were a bit dense. Some low-light shots seemed a little more opaque than I’d like. Despite a few minor issues, I thought the flick usually looked quite good.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Soul Men seemed fine for the material. Music dominated and showed good stereo presence. Various effects added decent life to the proceedings, especially during the scenes on the road. These didn’t provide great pizzazz, but they contributed a good sense of place. The surrounds kicked in some reinforcement but not much else; I heard a few cars drive to the rear and that was about it.

Audio quality satisfied. Speech sounded natural and concise, and effects followed suit. Those elements didn’t do much to tax my sound system, but they were clear and accurate. Music appeared solid, as the songs provided fine life and vivacity. Overall, this was a low-key but perfectly acceptable soundtrack.

Soul Men comes with a decent complement of extras. We begin with an audio commentary from director Malcolm D. Lee and writers Matt Stone and Rob Ramsey. The sit together for a running, screen-specific chat that looks at the project’s origins and development, script and story notes, cast and performances, locations, music, and other production elements.

Expect an energetic and bawdy commentary. The movie includes a great deal of profanity and the guys here reflect that. They also provide a lot of laughs and facts. The track moves at a good pace, as we get a mix of frank remarks, jokes and info. I don’t think much of Soul Men as a movie, but the commentary does well for itself.

A few featurettes follow. The Soul Men: Bernie Mac and Samuel L. Jackson goes for nine minutes, 30 seconds and includes Lee, producers Charles Castaldi, David T. Friendly, and Steven Greener, and actors Bernie Mac, Samuel L. Jackson, Adam Herschman and Jennifer Coolidge. The show looks at the main cast, their characters, and their performances. Some fluffiness results, but a mix of decent details come along for the ride as well. Don’t expect a lot, but we find some nice notes about the actors’ work.

For the seven-minute and 41-second The Cast of Soul Men, we hear from Jackson, Friendly, Greener, Castaldi, Lee, Coolidge, Herschman, and actors Sharon Leal, Affion Crockett, and John Legend. “Cast” works the same way as “Soul Men”; it just focuses on the rest of the movie’s actors. Actually, it feels a bit less insightful and somewhat fluffier, but it still includes some interesting moments.

More info about the filmmaker arrives with Director Malcolm Lee. It runs two minutes, 50 seconds as it provides notes from Greener, Castaldi, Coolidge, Crockett, Herschman, Leal, and Lee. Mostly the featurette tells us how wonderful Lee is. Expect little else from it.

Two remembrances come next. We find A Tribute to Bernie Mac (7:26) and A Tribute to Isaac Hayes (4:03). Across these, we hear from Jackson, Lee, Mac, Leal, Herschman, Crockett, Castaldi, and Hayes’ son Darius. As tributes, I expected these pieces to be pretty fluffy, and they were. But that’s appropriate, and they offer nice send-offs for the deceased actors.

Boogie Ain’t Nuttin’: Behind the Scenes fills two minutes, 31 seconds. It shows remarks from Lee but mostly offers a look at the elements that went into the musical sequence in question. I especially like the glimpses from the recording studio.

Finally, Bernie Mac at the Apollo goes for four minutes, 17 seconds. It throws in some remarks from Lee and Mac but it mostly lets us see some of the stand-up Mac did between takes at the movie’s “Apollo”. That makes it a fun extra.

Some ads open the disc. We get promos for Fanboys, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, The Longshots, and Zack and Miri Make a Porno. The disc also includes the trailer for Soul Men.

If you hoped that Soul Men would provide a good swansong for Bernie Mac, you’ll be disappointed. He and co-star Samuel L. Jackson do their best to enliven the proceedings, but the messy melange of comedy and drama fails to entertain. The DVD provides satisfying picture and audio along with a smattering of extras highlighted by a very good commentary. I can’t complain about the DVD, but I don’t think much of the movie.

Viewer Film Ratings: 5 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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