"Soul Men," a 2008 release, is a musical comedy road picture, with a template of sadness behind it. It stars more frequent action hero, Samuel L. Jackson, and the late Bernie Mac. It was written by Robert Ramsey and Matthew Stone, and directed by Malcolm Lee, noted American filmmaker Spike Lee's kid brother. Jackson plays Louis Hinds; Mac, Floyd Henderson. Together, they were once "The Real Deal," popular soul singers, and released a single record album. But it's been decades since they were together. Then the death of the supposedly legendary Marcus Hooks (John Legend), once their lead singer, gives them a very good reason to reunite: there's to be a memorial concert at New York's famous Apollo Theater, at which they've been invited to sing. It might just jump start their fallow singing careers.
So, quick as you can say Jackie Robinson, it becomes a road picture, as the quarreling ex-colleagues jump into a Cadillac in California, with four days to reach New York. There is lots of grumbling and fighting, and, be warned if it bothers you, a great deal of obscene language: with m-----f----- in almost every scene. Along the road, they will bump up against Rosalee, played by Jennifer Coolidge, in a distasteful sexist interlude that I could have done without. Also Cleo (Sharon Leal, Dreamgirls ), who is supposedly the daughter of one of the leads; they're initially not sure which; Lester (Affion Crockett), Cleo's none too bright, abusive boyfriend; Danny Epstein (Sean Hayes), their new manager, and Philip, (Adam Herschman), Epstein's gofer. Towards the end of the picture we meet the late great funk/soul musician Isaac Hayes, playing himself.
Hayes is very visibly ill and weak - he is used to do little more than walk across the screen. And I wish the producers had spent more money on the actors playing Philip (Herschman) and Cleo (Leal): they appear in many scenes, and granted, Leal is certainly pretty enough and sings very well; but they don't bring much to the screen.
However, the charismatic leads do bring a lot to their parts. Their comic timing is spot-on; Jackson's a good straight man, yet he can both pitch and catch: go know. The singing is fine, and the movie boasts a nice sound track of 1970's funk/soul hits. All in all, it's an enjoyable film. And, while it is the last film appearance of Mac and Hayes, I can recommend it as worth seeing for more than curiosity. Nevertheless, at film's post script, as the final credits roll, the interviews with Mac and Hayes are likely to bring tears to your eyes: they did to mine.