Flicking through the OnDemand film channels of my cable box and coming across Soul Men, a film I am sure one of my friends mentioned bizarrely on Farcebook the other day, seemed perfect as I know the basic outline, like the people involved, enjoy the music and I have never seen it before, except, essentially I have.
What I mean is that, pick a buddy comedy film about old grumpy friends with a grudge, a road movie or a movie about the music industry, especially one featuring African American 70s soul and RnB music and you've seen Soul Men. Everything from The Blues Brothers and Planes Trains and Automobiles to Grumpy Old Men have travelled this well worn road before and in one way Soul Men brings nothing new to this tattered freeway, except it does in the casting of Samuel L Jackson and Bernie Mac who are both terrifically watchable in this film.
It was really an enormous shame that Bernie Mac died so tragically after this movie was made because, sure the gross out sex comedy bits were woefully misjudged, the story about a long lost daughter, who just happens to be a world class singer, re-uniting with her reprobate and absent father never really got the emotional airing it deserved and yes the supporting characters were either bumbling stereotypes or cardboard caricatures but I could watch a buddy comedy film with these two guys in it, no matter how many cliches there were in it (and there were a ton, like the script was manufactured using a computer screenwriting program), once every 3 years and always enjoy them.
It's a weird thing, the first Blues Brothers is the classic film with quotable dialogue and fantastic set pieces but, by now, we've all seen it so much we could recite it in our sleep whereas the sequel, however ill advised, is the guilty pleasure, the no brainer, Saturday morning flick that you can pop to the kitchen during to make toast and not worry about. Well, Soul Men is that film and all things, except remakes of 70s horror films and anything involving Michael Bay or Shia LaBeouf, have their place it seems.
Considering the rest of the writing I can't really believe that all the dialogue the leading pair spewed out at a breathless pace, was actually ever written down. It felt like the general idea was sketched out and then these two pros just had at it and styled it specifically for them, with all the cursing and slang they wanted and the film is so much better for it, especially in the driving scenes.
The music in the film is good, with leads Jackson and Mac singing all their own stuff surprisingly well and performing a few nifty dance moves to boot! None of the songs is quite as catchy as it needs to be to make the soundtrack album worth a purchase but again, like the two actors, it's good enough to elevate the movie just one little step higher out of the bargain bin of comedy death.
So, by no means a classic then but not offensively bad either, more one of those that, if it was on TV, you could enjoyably dip in and out of and laugh along with without ever needing to fully care or invest in anything.
The viewing was made all the more poignant though by Bernie Mac's passing, as it was obvious he and Jackson had a great time making it and could have made a good screen double act.
6.5 out of 10 roadside diner hamburgers and cold fries