Bernie Mac’s last film before his untimely death is a let-it-rip, irreverent comedy invested with the comedian’s trademark brand of earthy humor. Floyd Henderson (Bernie Mac) and Louis Hinds (Samuel L. Jackson) haven’t spoken since their days singing together as a duo ended 20 years ago after the departure of their R&B group’s leader John Legend (Marcus Hooks). Legend’s recent passing presents an opportunity for Floyd and Louis to reunite for a memorial concert at the Apollo Theater if only they can make amends and survive a cross-country drive together. There’s a vibe of historic musical authenticity as the knockabout guys take Floyd’s convertible green Cadillac through Memphis while working out a contentious question about who fathered a now-grown singer named Cleo (well played by Sharon Leal).
Soul Men is an accidental love letter to the comic genius of Bernie Mac. It’s full of joy and even a surprising amount of clear-eyed innocence. It doesn’t hurt that Mac and Jackson perform their own song-and-dance numbers, or that the late Isaac Hayes lends his sly presence to the piece.