Monday, December 15, 2008

An open apology to the great Mr. Bernie Mac

Actually, the - potentially - greatest news I could find out there this morning is that Warner Bros. has finally given a release date, Oct. 16, 2009, to Spike Jonze's "Where the Wild Things Are." Of course, that says nothing about what the final movie will look like and doesn't mean Warner just won't move it back again, but there's still hope that my favorite story of childhood will make it to the big screen while I'm still drawing breath.

But the main subject here today is an apology to Bernie Mac, whose last movie, "Soul Men," I had snubbed until last weekend. As I'll explain, though, I don't really think it's entirely my fault.

This summer and into the fall has really been pretty solid for comedies, but I had avoided Mac, Samuel L. Jackson and director Malcolm Lee's "Soul Men" because of what has to be just about the worst marketing campaign of all time. Can you remember it? It pretty much scarred my brain for the rest of the year with two of the most tired jokes I've ever heard, one about what happens when poor Jennifer Coolidge removes her dentures (man, does she deserve better) and the other about what happens when Mr. Mac accidentally takes a viagra and gets into bed with Mr. Jackson.

So, you can understand why I've just said no since the movie opened in the first week of November, but this weekend was finally weak enough to make me just give in. I just couldn't bring myself to watch any remake of "The Day the Earth Stood Still," and even with five of my very favorite actors (Luis Guzman, Elizabeth Pena, Alfred Molina, Melonie Diaz and Freddy Rodriguez) in "Nothing Like the Holidays," I also couldn't see taking in what looked like just the most predictable kind of holiday fare. However, neither could I see a fall weekend with no movies.

What it came down to was a choice between "Role Models" and "Soul Men," and my love for Bernie Mac swung me to the latter (how in the world either one is still in theaters remains a mystery, however) and I found there's a lot of good things just under the crude surface in the other Mr. Lee's flick.

If they had just told me (and perhaps I should have been able to figure it out on my own) that this was mostly a sweet buddy road movie in which Mr. Mac and Mr. Jackson drive cross country to reunite at the Apollo Theater as soul duo the Real Deal (and, even better, you get John Legend in a coffin, to boot), I would have been in from the start. Those two dudes are clearly friends and enjoy ribbing each other, and the road leads to very funny scenes like them performing in a country and western bar (complete with Mr. Jackson line dancing.) As a much less funny Adam Herschman says at one point, "They say motherf***er a lot, but they're real nice guys," and that - and support from the always welcome Sharon Leal - is where the flick gets most of its appeal.

Now, don't get me wrong. This is BY NO MEANS a great movie, but it is a really fun one, and well worth a rental when it hits that point (even if this is somehow still playing in a theater near you, too, I'd still wait for DVD.) And a further apology from me to Malcolm Lee, who is, yes, Spike Lee's cousin. He's certainly not making movies that look anything like Spike's, but he's still managed to make three flicks - "Soul Men," "Roll Bounce" and the silly but satisfying "Undercover Brother" - that I really like, so huzzah to that.

Like most of the world, I first found the late, great Bernie Mac in Spike's "Kings of Comedy," and to this day I still can't believe that it was this hilarious but very blue routine that really set up the premise for and landed him his mostly funny sitcom. After a tired couple of minutes of black-white comedy, in this clip he really launches into "his sister's kids" (the 2-year-old is "a shepherd of the devil"), so if you've never seen this watch it with your headphones on if at work and enjoy. And please accept my apology for snubbing your last movie so long, Mr. Mac. Rest in peace.


soxfan said...

Just as you gave "Soul Men" a chance, I highly suggest you do the same for Nothing Like the Holidays. It is by no means a standard "holiday" movie. I truly enjoyed the ensemble cast of talented actors who each brought their best to the character they portrayed. The film is, I believe, being lumped into and compared with "Four Christmases" and they are NOTHING alike. NLTH is a heartwarming drama with some comic relief. It tells a story (it actually tells several different stories)about a family who, even though each member has his or her own issues, comes together to celebrate each other (it just happens to be that they come together at Christmas). Give it a chance, I think you'll find that you like it...and who knows maybe the title to your next blog will be, "An open apology to the great Freddy Rodriguez, Alfred Molina, Elizabeth Pena, and Melonie Diaz"! :)

Reel Fanatic said...

On your hearty recommendation, I think I will indeed give it a chance on this coming weekend, and if you are indeed right it will erode my faith even further in the majority of film critics who led me to believe that this was one to skip .. and I will indeed apologize to all those fantastic actors once I'm proven wrong again once again!

Mercurie said...

You definitely made the right choice, RF. I haven't seen Soul Men or The Day the Earth Stood Still remake, but a friend of my saw The Day the Earth Stood Still remake and thought it absolutely wretched. Given our tastes in movies are pretty close, I trust his judgement!

Anyway, good to hear that Where the Wild Things Are finally got a release date!

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