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The Independent Critic

Samuel L. Jackson, Bernie Mac, Affion Crockett, Sean Hayes
Malcolm Lee
Robert Ramsey & Matthew Stone
Rated R
103 Mins.

 "Soul Men" Review 
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It's weird, really.

Kinda sad.

Think about it...the same year we're talking a potential posthumous Oscar nomination for Heath Ledger's brilliant work in "The Dark Knight," we have Bernie Mac also pass away far too young.

Mac's final live action performance (he also did voice work in "Madagascar 2") is, on a certain level, a dream pairing with Samuel L. Jackson in "Soul Men," the story of Louis (Samuel L. Jackson) and Floyd (Bernie Mac). The two were back-up singers for Marcus Hooks and the Real Deal, a wildly popular 60's and 70's R&B/Soul band. When Marcus (real life crooner John Legend) goes solo, the two back-up singers tried to keep going but faded into oblivion rather quickly. When Marcus dies, the two are asked to sing at a memorial concert at the legendary Apollo theatre...ya' get where this is going?

Yep. You DO get where this is going. There's not an iota of originality in "Soul Men," a film that gets by almost exclusively on the loud personalities and obvious chemistry between Jackson and Mac. The film is brash, raw, funny and energized...all words that one could easily associate with either Mac or Jackson.

"Soul Men" is part buddy flick, part music flick, part comedy and seldom do the stylings intertwine. The film's first half is by far the funniest, but one hardly notices because the film's latter half is filled with kickin' music.

While there's no danger of Mac getting a posthumous Oscar nomination for "Soul Men," neither is "Soul Men" anywhere near the travesty of John Candy's godawful "Wagons East," a film that still makes me cringe by mere mention of the title. In fact, it's hard not to watch "Soul Men" without feeling a twinge of sadness knowing that Mac is gone, as is supporting player Isaac Hayes.

Occasionally funny, frequently toe tappin' and sporadically a jumbled mess, "Soul Men" is worth seeing as a tribute to Bernie Mac and for fans of both Mac and Jackson. While the film may not always work, just watching Mac and Jackson together can be quite the delight.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic

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