This light comedy comes with unfortunate baggage: the recent deaths of Bernie Mac, one of its leads, and Isaac Hayes, who makes a cameo. And though it's bound to be a mere footnote in each performer's distinguished career, Soul Men ain't a bad way for either to go out, fondly satirizing the soul music Hayes embodied with one of Mac's better screen performances. And in Samuel L. Jackson, Mac has a perfectly matched co-star, someone with an equally intense glare, a commanding voice and a gift for delivering profanity as poetry.
As an estranged and embittered R&B duo back on the road for one last hurrah, each performer is allowed to unleash the full power of his comedic fury, and in the flick's funniest moments, director Malcolm D. Lee simply steps back and lets the expletives fly. Unfortunately, just as often, Lee's limp pacing and clumsily deployed supporting cast only get in the way. And when the story comes to an end, with a climactic performance by the reunited group as the cops close in on them, Soul Men seems to be daring you, almost encouraging you, to dismiss it as merely a cheap Blues Brothers knockoff.
Al Shipley writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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