Soul Men

What a quandary! First of all, I've been a fan of Samuel L. Jackson ever since "Long Kiss Goodnight," "Star Wars," "Snakes on a Plane" and up through "Extras, Season 1" and "Lakeview Terrace." Bernie Mac has been around through thick and thin, e.g., ("Pride," the "Ocean's" series, lots of TV, and voice work in "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa.") They both turn in commendable depictions of has-been soul-singing legends who are asked to appear at the Apollo Theatre to commemorate the death of the former lead singer of their defunct trio, played by John Legend who has done a little acting but who is better known for his stellar composing and recording career.

Our two heroes have been estranged for decades: Mac's character went into the automobile business, where he prospered but is now semi-retired, and bored stiff. Jackson's character is out of prison (armed robbery), is on parole, and works as an auto mechanic. Mac wants to use this occasion to re-launch their singing careers; Jackson wants to be left alone. Much of the humor centers around the various ploys each uses to achieve his own ends.

Eventually they set out on a road trip from California to New York City for the event. Mac has booked some intermediate stops where they can perform and regain their "chops." Their relationship is contentious: they are still angry about their final fight, which was over the woman who became Mac's first wife (out of four!). They sing, do modest choreography and deliver effective dramatic moments...but the LANGUAGE! It is just exactly what you would expect from these two notorious potty mouths. Without the language, the film wouldn't have felt authentic; but with it... I guess all I can do is warn you... We saw lots of Viagra jokes, smarmy sex, and audience-pleasing vulgarity. I think you had to be there.

Even though Bernie Mac has three more projects yet to be released, this movie concluded with a fitting tribute to both him and Isaac Hayes, who died on August 10th, a day after Mr. Mac (August 9, 2008).