Soul Men (2008)

Genre(s): Comedy / Drama / Music
Weinstein Company || R - 100 minutes - $28.95 || February 10, 2009
Reviewer: Morgan Wilson || Posted On: 2009-02-04


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Malcolm D. Lee
Writer(s): Robert Ramsey & Matthew Stone (written by)
Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Bernie Mac


Theatrical Release Date: November 7, 2008


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Audio Commentary
  • 6 Featurettes
  • Theatrical Trailer


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

“Soul Men” is not necessarily a good film, but it's not bad either. The film is about a soul duo who went their separate ways back in the 1970s, only to be called back into action 30 years later to perform at a televised memorial for the duo's old lead singer, who made them a duo when he left for a successful solo career.

“Soul Men” is directed by Malcolm D. Lee, who directed such films as “Undercover Brother” and “Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins.” You'd think that he would pick better movies to work on, especially considering his cousin Spike hasn't been doing much of anything but TV movies recently. Even with his less than stellar track record, he did a fine job given the material he had to work with.

As far as Malcolm Lee getting good performances from his actors, he seems to do this quite well in “Soul Men.” Bernie Mac definitely had some acting chops before he passed. Samuel L. Jackson doesn't give us another “Pulp Fiction” level performance, but he gets the job done well enough. Bernie Mac and Sam Jackson had great on screen chemistry, and even with Sam not trying his best on “Soul Men”, I'm saddened that this was the last time for the two to have the opportunity to work together. The supporting actors, namely Adam Herschman, seem to try their best but don't necessarily succeed at giving the audience performances near the caliber of the two main characters.

I found that the script could have used a little bit more work. The writing is uneven, going straight from being a raucous road trip comedy, to a drama, and all the way to a musical in a matter of minutes. It seems as if the writers couldn't agree on what genre they were going for, so they decided to lump all three into one 98 minute film, which doesn't quite cut it.

The score is somewhat of a problem as well, comprising mostly of music from the “Stax” label. But that's not the problem, the problem is that in what would otherwise be emotionally charged parts of the film, they decide to use funk music. Why? I think they were being a little lazy and didn't want to write new music. If they did write new music, then why in the world would they want funk in a scene where one of the main characters is crying.

Complete with gross-out humor and a smattering of throwaway side characters, “Soul Men” definitely wasn't trying to be anything for the intellectual crowd, but I'm sure that anybody can find something to like in this film. I found several things, and I stand by them. I couldn't help but (try to) sing along to some of the film's original songs, and there are parts where I have to admit I chuckled. It's an OK film overall, and if only the people involved had put a little more time and effort into the film, it could have been great.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

For all of the fans of this film (if there are any), you'll be disappointed.

Commentary by Director Malcolm Lee and writers Matt Stone and Rob Ramsey: I found this to be an entertaining, informative track. There's rarely a few seconds of silence, which makes this a well-done audio commentary, although nowhere near as fun as some of the audio commentaries that are being released nowadays (Judd Apatow and Kevin Smith, I'm looking at you!).

Next are several basic/pointless featurettes:
The Soul Men: Bernie Mac And Samuel L. Jackson The Cast Of Soul Men, Director Malcolm D. Lee, A Tribute To Bernie Mac, A Tribute To Isaac Hayes, Boogie Ain't Nothin', and Bernie Mac At The Apollo.

Also included is the theatrical trailer.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

“Soul Men” looks pretty good on DVD, with all of the colors having a certain pop to them, and the video having an overall “shiny” look to it. But, I did notice some minor artifacts in certain darker scenes. The film is presented in anamorphic widescreen and in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1.

“Soul Men” is a very music-oriented film and the 5.1 track takes great care in making use of the surround channels. It really is quite a bit of fun to listen to all of the music in surround sound, which makes me wonder why DVD-As didn't take off.



.::OVERALL::.

I enjoyed Soul Men even though I don't necessarily want to watch it again. It's something you should definitely rent, if only to see the chemistry between Sam Jackson and Bernie Mac. The DVD adds insult to injury, with only one of the nine special features being anything interesting.