Monday, May 21, 2012

Movie Review: "Soul Men"

   I am an ardent fan of the cinematic arts. Although I have certain genre preferences, I don’t let that stifle my curiosity and close myself to different flavors of entertainment. That said...I am a huge fan of science fiction, super hero and action movies! Please visit my other blog The Boxed Office for reviews, exclusively, on these types of movies.
The Cast: 
   Samuel L. Jackson has made 143 films (at the time of this post). Let that number sink in as you’ll find very few actors in the history of movies that have made more...and only one of them is still working. Jackson is one of those actors that always has a hint of himself, a familiarity if you will, with every role he plays. Having said that, he is an excellent talent that always works hard in every role he plays. Bernie Mac (RIP) was one of the funniest comedians to grace a stage and brought that talent to the big screen on many occasions. I’ve always maintained a theory that comedians excel in dramatic roles if they commit their all to the task (Will Smith, Robin Williams)...and Mac was no exception. Sharon Leal is best known (to me) for her roles in the “Why Did I Get Married” films, and she brings that talent to this film as well.
The Plot: 
   After the death of an R&B legend, his back-up singers are invited to sing at his memorial tribute. Enter Louis Hinds (Jackson) and Floyd Henderson (Mac), better known as “The Real Deal.” They haven’t seen each other in years, haven’t sang in even longer...and have nothing for disdain for each other, but both have fallen on hard times and could use the cash influx from a special appearance. 
   With five days to get from Los Angeles to New York, they must drive across the country without killing each other, and finding their vocal legs by performing small venues along the way. Along the way, they stop to see an old flame (of both of them) only to discover Cleo (Leal) instead...a daughter one of them never knew they had...and the other did! 
   As the trip progresses, they must learn to get along, and find acceptance of the past while seeking forgiveness to push forward. The soul searching and mayhem that becomes the staple of their trip just might spell the end of their dreams...or be the beginning of something big.
The Verdict: 
   I had very high hopes for this film, just on the strength of the acting talent that was in it. I like both Jackson and Mac and was anxious to see how they would balance the comedic approach Mac brings with the dramatic flare Jackson is known for. Unfortunately, the direction of the film never quite married these two together in a presentation that met my hopes.
   The film seemed like it couldn’t make up it’s mind to be a comedy or drama. The comedy never was funny enough, probably due to poor writing, while the drama came off as too heavy handed for the effort the film invested to be funny. It probably would have been much better if it simply abandoned the comedic aspect of it altogether...and tried to be a serious film about these two men reconciling. With that approach, some simple situational comedic injections would have gone over much better than the “forced funny” feel of the film.
   Essentially, this film had every right to be everything it could have been, had it been allowed to be what it should have been. Instead it was a film that was almost funny, but not quite serious...that just wasted the time and talent of two great entertainers. I came away from this viewing with my hopes dashed and a feeling that I was almost entertained, but instead couldn’t produce a sound accounting of the two hours lost in the attempt. This is probably why there was only one cinnamon stick, out of five, in my cold cup of tea.

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