Mac & Jackson are The Real Deal
Back in the 60s Marcus Hooks (John Legend) and the Real Deal, Louis Hinds (Samuel L. Jackson) and Floyd Henderson (Bernie Mac), were frequent chart toppers with their slick moves and sweet soul sound. But as the decades passed and Marcus deciding to go their own way things didn't go so well for the Real Deal as they failed to have the same success, eventually going their own ways with Floyd becoming a businessman whilst Louis ended up inside for a bank job. Now having not seen each other or spoken in many years they find themselves both contacted by producer Danny Epstein (Sean Hayes) to do a special for VH-1 following the recent death of Marcus. With Floyd bored in retirement he wants to do it but Louis is less keen although eventually agrees on the proviso they drive across country to the Apollo rather than fly. So now these former friends are going to have to go on a road trip together without killing each other whilst also relearning the old songs and moves.
As soon as "Soul Men" started it had me hooked with the footage of Mac, Jackson and Legend as a 60s soul act as Mac and Jackson had the look and the moves to make it amusing but believable. And if that wasn't enough we then get footage of what Marcus did next and there is a hilarious scene of him wearing the leather suit and bright red cod piece which some will remember Larry Blackmon of Cameo wearing especially in the music video for "Word Up!".
Anyway after this fun opening "Soul Men" continues to entertain but it is at this point I have to say it shows it self as being derivative from the old band getting back together storyline to the humour of the animosity between old friends causing an eventful road trip. The derivative nature extends to many of the jokes and when we see Louis and Floyd show up at a small diner to do their first gig and Louis' outfit now a little too snug it is far too obvious, as obvious as when they have car trouble. In truth when it comes to the humour "Soul Men" is hit and miss with far too many obvious jokes weakening things.
But "Soul Men" is not just some tired old comedy as we have a lot more modern risque humour in it, yes I mean nudity, sex scenes and swearing which in truth is what you expect from a comedy headlined by Samuel L. Jackson and Bernie Mac. It is this side of the movie where it is at its best with humour which puts many a teen sex comedy in its place. Plus watching Mac and Jackson perform as an old R&B act is a joy with the sort of chemistry which Belushi and Aykroyd shared in "The Blues Brothers". It is though not just Mac and Jackson who make the movie and Jennifer Coolidge delivers one of the movies more memorable scenes.
What this all boils down to is that "Soul Men" is a lot of fun and actually shows you can take some old ideas and still make them work. But most of why it works is thanks to the brilliant performances from Samuel L. Jackson and Bernie Mac.