Soul Men Review: Farewell, Bernie and Isaac

If there can be any unwilling yet appropriate tribute to the comedic genius of Bernie Mac and the soulful talent of Isaac Hayes, then Soul Men is it.

Director Malcolm D. Lees characters Louis Hinds (Samuel L. Jackson) and Floyd Henderson (Bernie Mac), who once sang together, are reluctantly paired backed together after leaving their friendship some twenty odd years ago in order to perform at the Apollo in a tribute to their late friend and lead singer from their former band. What ensues is cross country road trip with musical interludes, which as always in comedy, sets the stage for a string of situational comedy.

Though Jackson and Mac do much of their own clumsy and comedic performing during the musical numbers, one can’t have a movie about Soul without a master of the trade like Isaac Hayes, playing as himself. Though Hayes sparingly makes his appearances, he does so with smooth precision and soulful nostalgia. Also, lending their musical talent is Sharon Leal from Dream Girls who plays Cleo Whitfield. Her character packs a wallup of a punch but leaves audiences wanting more when she sheds her true spunky colors early on in the face of her abusive boy friend.

Bernie Mac and Samuel L. Jackson, without a doubt, deliver some hilarious and record breaking F-bomb dropping banter and their on-screen chemistry is brilliantly paired. Unfortunately, some of the musical numbers and a lot of the situational humor fall flat but where some of the delivery misses the mark, some of it succeeds with absolute hilarity — especially some key scenes with Adam Herschman who plays Henderson and Hinds unyielding fan, Phillip Newman.

Disappointingly some of the character development was spared as well. Sharon Leal’s character has a great introduction where she shows she can really stand up for herself. Afterwards that tends to fizzle out and is sidelined for other content that eclipses the potential for her role’s reprisal. Also, it would have been great to see more of Isaac Hayes.

Soul Men pulls through as a fairly entertaining comedy about the best and worst of times between old friends in a way that pays homage to the history of the blues and soul scene while at the same time entices the viewer with colorful modern renditions and mixtures of musical style. Bernie Mac and Isaac Hayes will be sorely missed and audiences will enjoy the manner in which the movie fulfills its tribute towards these two men who had so much to add to the entertainment industry. Where there is hint of sorrow, a sense of celebration for life will be the curtain’s last call.

– Chris Walsh

TheHDRoom may be paid a small commission for any services or products ordered through select links on this page.