Movie Reviews: Soul Food




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     20th Century Fox (2 hrs.)
     The lives of an African-American family unravel when their matriarch, known for dishing up delectable Sunday dinners, as well as platitudes, fall sick.
     Vanessa Williams, Vivica Fox, Nia Long, Irma P. Hall
Bottom Line:


     There is no family problem or crisis that hungry-man portions of fried chicken, corn bread, black-eyed peas, and fried catfish can't solve over Sunday dinner. That's the message in Soul Food-- a happy, sappy, soapy, feel good, down to Earth flick about the pains, joys and struggles of a close knit African-American family living in Chicago who are trying to stay together after the loss of the family matriarch to diabetes.
And there's nothing wrong with a soapy flick that allows you to have a good cry and a good laugh. The characters in the film are more believable and tangible than Waiting To Exhale. And most people with large families will identify with many of the film's characters and the big family dinners. It's a close a examination of African- American family values; something too often neglected by Hollywood.
     Soul Food is told through the eyes of Mother Joe's (Irma P. Hall) bright-eyed grand son Ahmad (Brandon Hammond). The story follows three sisters Teri, the oldest and most abrasive (Vanessa Williams), Maxine (Vivica A. Fox), the middle sister, who is pregnant and happily married to Kenny (Jeffrey D. Sams), and Bird (Nia Long), a young beautician whose former boyfriend is trying to win her affections again and make her dump her new husband (Mekhi Phifer) who has a criminal record.
     Once Mother Joe takes ill, the family starts unraveling at the seams. It falls upon Ahmad to come up with a way to bring the family back together.
     In the final analysis, Soul Food  is a heart-warming film, and I'd like to see more of this genre. However, there is a disturbing factor in the film. Food shares equal billing with the actors. In fact, don't see this movie if you haven't eaten. You'll go crazy and popcorn won't cut it. But Mother Joe does lose her life to diabetes, and it's hinted in the movie that her eating habits of fatty soul foods are the culprit. This fact is quickly passed over, as people keep loading up their plates, but I guess if they didn't have the food, there wouldn't have been a movie. I mean, how many tickets could you sell to a film called, Salad?



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