Soul Men: Moving On Without Isaac Hayes And Bernie Mac

It’s been a depressing weekend for great black artists. In the span of 48 hours the entertainment industry has lost a legendary music icon in the form of Isaac Hayes, and a still rising, yet already legendary star in comedian Bernie Mac. It’s bad news for one movie in particular, a soon to be released film called Soul Men.

In one weekend, a significant portion of the movie’s primary cast has been wiped out. The film stars Samuel L. Jackson, Bernie Mac, and yes, the recently late, great Isaac Hayes in the story of two estranged soul legends (played by Jackson and Mac) who reunite at the Apollo Theater to honor their recently deceased band leader. Principle photography was already finished, so there should be no problem with getting it ready for release, but you have to wonder now whether or not Dimension Films will want to release it.

Death is a big subject in the film. The entire plot of the movie revolves around Mac and Jackson eulogizing the death of their friend with music, only now two members of the film’s actual cast really are dead. Three days ago it sounded like a fantastic idea for a film, especially in light of the way Sam Jackson belted out blues tunes in Black Snake Moan. Now, it seems almost too sad to watch. Buying a ticket to Soul Men could end up feeling like you’re purchasing a seat at someone’s funeral.

The movie doesn’t open until November 14th, so that does give the world a little time to grieve for its tragically departed stars. Still, don’t be surprised if Dimension Films decides to delay it a little more, maybe even until next year. November 14th may be too soon, particularly in light of the subject matter. Granted, after Heath Ledger’s death Warner Brothers found it prudent to let their film continue onward as planned after the death of its star, Heath Ledger. But The Dark Knight, for all it’s subtlety and complexity, was a summer superhero movie, and a hotly anticipated one, which only became more high profile after Ledger’s demise. Soul Men is something else entirely, a smaller movie, one that seems to be at least in part, specifically about grieving and death. Dimension studios may be left with no choice but to alter their plans for Soul Men, though we’re almost certain to see the film eventually.

Expect some official word from Dimension later this week, as they return to work on Monday and try to figure this depressing thing out. If there's a silver lining in this anywhere for them, it's that they cast Sam Jackson and not Morgan Freeman.

Josh Tyler