Plot: What’s it about?
Louis Hinds (Samuel L. Jackson) and Floyd Henderson (Bernie Mac) were backup singers to one of 60s soul’s hottest performers, only to embark on a path on their own. The road as a duo came to an end, as happens so often, over a woman. The two spent the next two decades ignoring each other, a once bright friendship snuffed out. When the singer they used to backup passes on, the two agree to appear at a reunion concert in his honor. As Louis is scared to death of airplaces, he and Floyd take off on a cross country trek to the show. The two start off on the wrong foot and debate to no end, over the past, the present, and what will become of their futures. A few warm-up shows help the duo knock off the rust, as does some help from Floyd’s daughter, who provides some fresh new presence on stage. But can Louis and Floyd manage to survive this road trip with each other, while rekindling their friendship and paying tribute to their past?
Soul Men was thrust into the spotlight when two of the film’s stars, Isaac Hayes and Bernie Mac, died just before the film was released. The attention was short lived however, as the movie had a minor run in theaters and now hits home video with little in terms of fanfare. Soul Men is just not a good movie. As is often the case when a star passes on, the role seems more poignant now, but even so, Mac’s talent was wasted here. The blame has to be placed on the writers, who drummed up a wafer thin plot and the director, who can’t keep the movie on the rails. The shifts between raunchy moments and tender moments are bungled, leaving us with more of a mess than a movie. Fans of Mac and Samuel L. Jackson will find some bright spots, but they’re few and far between, thanks to the lackluster script. Soul Men never manages to take a step forward without taking ten back, so even if you’re a fan of the leads, this one is best left alone.
Video: How does it look?
Soul Men is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. I found this to be a solid transfer, with good detail and a clean overall image. You can tell this isn’t a DVD, as depth is beyond what that release offers and some scenes have that crisp, sharp presence we love to see from high definition. Not all scenes possess that kind of depth of course, but most do and even in the less detailed one, the visuals are competent. Colors are bright and bold, contrast is accurate, and flesh tones look natural. Not much else to talk about, this is one fine visual presentation.
Audio: How does it sound?
This Dolby TrueHD 5.1 is solid, but outside of the film’s musical elements, it doesn’t have much to work with. The music, both on the soundtrack and the live performances, sounds excellent. The surrounds open up to let the tunes shine and that adds so much life to the experience. Sadly, that is where the presence ends. The rest of the audio hinges on dialogue, thanks to a lack of general atmosphere or ambiance. Even so, dialogue sounds clear and never suffers, so that is good news. This disc also includes a Dolby Digital 5.1 option, as well as subtitles in English and Spanish.
Supplements: What are the extras?
An audio commentary with the directors and writers proves to be on the dull side, but has some bright spots. This is more of a nostalgic look back on the shoot, working with the stars, as opposed to an insightful nuts & bolts type session. A total of seven featurettes also make the cut here, including tributes to Bernie Mac and Isaac Hayes, as well as footage of Mac at the Apollo Theater. These featurettes are promotional in nature and as such, yield minimal depth. This disc also includes the film’s theatrical trailer.