‘Soul Men’ lacks the jazz to impress or entertain

By by Noah Levinson

‘ ‘ ‘ ‘Soul Men’ is like the essay you had to write for your English teacher 40 minutes before… ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘Soul Men’ is like the essay you had to write for your English teacher 40 minutes before class started. It’s made up of just enough bull to persuade your teacher into giving you a fat, fresh D-. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘Soul Men’ seems like it was whipped up 40 minutes before it premiered. It starts off with a premise that would have to catch the audience on an extremely boring day to interest it. ‘ ‘ ‘ Floyd Henderson (Bernie Mac) and Louis Hinds (Samuel L. Jackson) are the backup soul singers of Marcus Hook (a John Legend cameo) and must travel cross-country to play at Hook’s funeral. Neither have performed or spoken to each other in more than 20 years. ‘ ‘ ‘ With episode after episode of repetitive, simplistic humor, the cliches start to rip at the soul. It really becomes work staying seated comfortably in the theater. Almost every comedic technique and strategy is as predictable as the ending of a Dora the Explorer episode. ‘ ‘ ‘ Racial humor is thrown everywhere in ‘Soul Men,’ and the characters are nowhere near believable or complex.’ ‘ ‘ ‘ Perhaps Samuel L. Jackson plays a ‘deep’ character by being mysterious and playing that tough-guy role that he’s known for. But why sit and watch ‘Soul Men’ when you could just turn on ‘Pulp Fiction’ and see Jackson play the role that you want him to play? ‘ ‘ ‘ It is unfair to put blame on the actors, though. Jackson and Mac play their characters to the best of their abilities with the utmost energy. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to hold this film above the murky waters of failure. ‘ ‘ ‘ Bernie Mac is fun in this movie. It is one of the only films he’s been in the past few years where the sole emotion the audience should have for him isn’t pity. It’s not only evident that he is having fun making this movie, but also that everyone working directly with him is enjoying himself, too. ‘ ‘ ‘ It would be extremely intriguing to pair Mac and Jackson together again in another film because their relationship in ‘Soul Men’ would have been absolutely entertaining to watch if the writing wasn’t so awful. It is a shame that this pairing can never happen again, because Mac passed away of sarcoidosis in August. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘Soul Men’ should have stayed in the oven for an extra month or two. Why doesn’t the comedy go further? Why does the writing have to be so shallow and oversimplified? ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘Soul Men’ doesn’t have any substance to it. It’s a 90-minute shame of ‘what could’ve been.’ This film is hard to talk about because there isn’t anything deep to think about afterwards, and it doesn’t provide much short-term entertainment while watching. ‘ ‘ ‘ Perhaps the only thing worth watching in ‘Soul Men’ is during the credits when the five-minute ‘in memoriam’ to Bernie Mac and Isaac Hayes appears. This is possibly the most respectful and worthwhile part of the entire film.