Samuel L. Jackson and Bernie Mac are estranged soul singers Louis and Floyd in this hilarious road-trip comedy. Out of shape and out of practice, the duo sets off on a cross country journey to perform a tribute concert at the legendary Apollo Theater - settling their 25-year-old grudge along the way.
Incidentally, one of our favourite musical movies is Dreamgirls (2006), an extravanganza about a promising trio and their plight to gain international stardom, not forgetting the price they have to pay for it. The glitz and glamour in the Bill Condon directed movie was a guilty pleasure, and what’s more, it made Jennifer Hudson an Academy Award winner. So when we received this DVD about two black singers coming together to sing, we thought we’d be in for a treat of glitz and glamour, the only difference being two guys instead of three girls in the spotlight.
Malcolm D. Lee (Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins) directs the late Bernie Mac (Transformers, Ocean’s Thirteen) and the always reliable Samuel L. Jackson (The Spirit, Lakeview Terrace) in a fictionalized story about two backup singers, Floyd Henderson and Louis Hinds, who are reunited when R & B legend Marcus Hooks suddenly dies. VH-1 invites the two estranged soul singers to perform at a memorial tribute. With bad blood and contradicting world views between the two men, they must first survive a road trip together to the performance theatre. So many things to do, so little time: The two singers must get their vocals back in shape, get their friendship back in order, and a whole load of other mess to sort out.
One thing you can always rely on despite the drab writing and tired storyline are the two men’s superb performances. There are quite a lot of vulgarities spouted in this 100 minute movie (earning it a M18 rating from our friends at the censorship board, together with some sensual sexual scenes thrown in), and somehow with the two leading men, the “f” words are all hilariously put across with some very good comedic effect. While many may regard Mac as another supporting actor who has appeared in a tad too many movies starring African American actors, he earns his own right in this one, playing a bored and retired singer who wants to make a big comeback. With Jackson’s grumpy ex convict complementing him, the duo’s chemistry is spot on. They are joined by other dependable actors like Sean Hayes and Sharon Leal, and a special appearance by musician John Legend to put up this enjoyable showcase of songs and drama.
However, if you look at this movie as a whole, it does not break much new ground. The tried and tested road trip genre does not provide too many surprises in this picture. Sentimentality and a sappy happy ending will not raise any eyebrows too. Maybe it’s in their blood, we are as usual, impressed by the blacks’ singing (remember how Eddie Murphy sang his out in Dreamgirls?). While we can find no fault with Mac and Jackson’s singing, they are however, not Beyonce Knowles or Jennifer Hudson, so we are somewhat lacking that spark.
This Code 3 DVD contains a whole load of special features, something you’d enjoy if you loved the movie. The Feature Commentary By Director Malcom D. Lee And Writers Matt Stone And Rob Ramsey has the trio talking in a very engaging manner, posing questions like the inspiration for the movie and casting choices to each other. The Soul Men: Bernice Mac & Samuel L. Jackson is a nine minute clip where the two actors talk about how they were approached for the movie, and how they created that great chemistry. In the eight minute The Cast of Soul Men, the cast and crew talk about how actors like Sharon Leal and Affion Crockett were cast for the musical movie.
Director Malcom D. Lee is a three minute clip where the cast and crew praise the director for his talents, while the seven minute A Tribute To Bernice Mac and the four minute A Tribute To Issac Hayes see the cast and crew remembering the two dead artistes, and how they contributed to the industry in their own rights. Boogie Ain’t Nuttin: Behind the Scenes is a two minute clip where you see the actors performing songs in the recording studio. The four minute Bernice Mac At The Apollo has the actor performing and entertaining for extras on set. The palette of extras is rounded up with a Theatrical Trailer.
There is nothing to complain about the disc’s visual transfer, and the movie is its original English audio track.
Review by John Li
Posted on 2 August 2009