Soul Food (film)

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For the television series based upon this film, see Soul Food (TV series).
Soul Food
Soul-food-1997.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by George Tillman Jr.
Produced by Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds
Tracey E. Edmonds
Michael McQuarn
Robert Teitel
Llewellyn Wells
Written by George Tillman, Jr.
Narrated by Brandon Hammond
Starring Vanessa Williams
Vivica A. Fox
Nia Long
Brandon Hammond
Irma P. Hall
Music by Lisa Coleman
Wendy Melvoin
Cinematography Paul Elliott
Editing by John Carter
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates September 26, 1997 (1997-09-26)
Running time 115 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $7.5 million[1]
Box office $43,700,855

Soul Food is a 1997 American comedy-drama film, produced by Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, Tracey Edmonds, and Robert Teitel, and released by Fox 2000 Pictures. Featuring an ensemble cast, the film stars Vanessa Williams, Vivica A. Fox, Nia Long, Michael Beach, Mekhi Phifer, Jeffrey D. Sams, Irma P. Hall, Gina Ravera, and Brandon Hammond. Written and directed by George Tillman, Jr. (in his major studio debut), the film centers on the trials of an extended African-American family, held together by longstanding family traditions which begin to fade as serious problems take center stage. Tillman based the family in the film on his own, and Soul Food was widely acclaimed for presenting a more positive image of African-Americans than is typically seen in Hollywood films.

In 2000, Showtime premiered a one-hour television series based upon the film.

Plot[edit]

Soul Food is told through the eyes of 11-year-old Ahmad (Hammond), follows the trials of the Joseph family, a close-knit Chicago family that gets together to have Sunday dinner every week, with plenty of soul food to go around. As Mother (Big Mama) Joe (Hall) has three daughters, who each have had varying success in life: oldest daughter Teri (Williams) has become a successful lawyer but has also suffered relationship problems ever since her younger sister Maxine (Fox) stole and married Teri's former boyfriend, Kenny (Sams). Teri's current husband, Miles (Beach), also a lawyer, desires to follow his dreams of being an R&B musician, which Teri doesn't seem to support. Youngest Joseph daughter Robin (Long)—nicknamed "Bird"—has just opened a barbershop/beauty parlor, and most of the family is uneasy about her marriage to Lem (Phifer), an ex-convict.

These problems are complicated when Mother Joe, the diabetic but wise and caring matriarch of the family and the glue that holds it together, suffers a debilitating stroke during an operation to amputate her leg and slips into a coma. Without her guidance, the family begins to fall apart. Teri takes in her troubled cousin Faith (Ravera), who grows close to, and eventually gets caught fornicating with Miles in his home studio by Teri. As an ex-con, Lem cannot find a job, so Bird makes an uneasy deal with her former boyfriend Simuel St. James (Mel Jackson) to get Lem a job, but this leads to a series of events that eventually cause him to be arrested again. Kenny and Maxine are reasonably stable, but refuse to pay back continual debt owed to Teri. Teri and Maxine's constant feuding—stemmed from Maxine stealing her sister's boyfriend. Maxine and Kenny are happy, but refuse to live within their means. They constantly use Teri for money and berate her for getting her law degree instead of focusing on her MRS. degree. Teri's inability to respect her husband pushes him away. Teri emasculates her husband and belittles his dream of becoming a musician. Faith sees Miles's desire to be a musician as an opportunity to seduce him from Teri. Teri is pushed to the brink after a second relative betrays her by taking her money and her man. Ahmad, (Kenny and Maxine's oldest child), is worried about the state of his extended family, and conspires to find a way to bring them all back together.

Ahmad tells everyone about a stash of money that Big Mama had hidden away some time ago though everyone believes that this is simply a myth. However, Ahmad manages to get everyone together for Sunday dinner. Things go a bit uneasy at first but everyone is upset that there was no money at all; Maxine chastises her son for lying about the money but Ahmad says tearfully that it was the only way to get everyone back together again. As Maxine is comforting her son, the kitchen accidentally catches on fire, they all work together to try and to put it out. When they put the fire out, Uncle Pete, Big Mama's brother, comes down with his television and drops it to reveal the money that Big Mama had hidden away.

Things start to go well for the family, despite Miles and Teri's divorce, he still comes by for Sunday dinner, Lem and Bird are expecting their first child, Faith is finally becoming part of the family again and Uncle Pete who never came out of his room, starts to join the family.

Main cast[edit]

Halle Berry and Whitney Houston were both considered for the role of Teri. Regina King, Kenya Moore and Jada Pinkett-Smith were all considered for the role of Bird. Vivica A. Fox auditioned for the role of Teri, but landed the role of Maxine instead.

The character Miles (Michael Beach) plays keyboards in an R&B group called "Milestone"; the vocalists of the group are portrayed by two sibling teams of professional R&B performers: brothers K-Ci Hailey and Jo-Jo Hailey (of Jodeci and K-Ci & JoJo); and Babyface and his brothers Kevon Edmonds and Melvin Edmonds (both of After 7).[3] Malik Yoba makes a brief cameo as their studio engineer.

Production[edit]

Soul Food was shot primarily on location in the Chicago area. A later Tillman-produced film, Barbershop, would also take place in and be shot on location in Chicago.

Soundtrack[edit]

A soundtrack containing R&B and hip-hop was released on August 19, 1997 by LaFace Records. It peaked at #4 on the Billboard 200 and was eventually certified 2x Multi-Platinum for over 2 million copies sold.

Reception[edit]

The film earned $43,700,855 during its original theatrical run.[4] The film opened at #3 in its opening weekend at $11,197,897 behind The Peacemaker's opening weekend and In & Out's second.[5]

Williams won an Image Award for "Outstanding Lead Actress in a Motion Picture"; Fox was also nominated for the award. Hammond won an Image Award for "Outstanding Youth Actor/Actress", and Irma P. Hall won for "Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture". Mekhi Phifer and Irma P. Hall both appeared in HBO's 1999 adaptation of A Lesson Before Dying, the 1993 novel by Ernest J. Gaines.

Soul Food spawned a follow-up cable television show on the Showtime network. Soul Food: The Series aired from 2000 through 2004 on Showtime, and currently airs in reruns on TV One.

Awards and nominations[edit]

  • Acapulco Black Film Festival (1998)
    • Best Film - Winner
    • Best Actor (Michael Beach) - Nomination
    • Best Actress (Vivica A. Fox) - Winner
    • Best Actress (Vanessa L. Williams) - Nomination
    • Best Soundtrack (Various Artists) - Nomination
    • Best Director (George Tillman, Jr.) - Nomination
  • Grammy Awards (1998)
    • Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or for a Television Series ("A Song for Mama", music & lyrics by Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds) - Nomination
  • MTV Movie Awards (1998)
    • Best Female Performance (Vivica A. Fox) - Nomination
    • Best Song ("A Song for Mama", music & lyrics by Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds) - Nomination
  • NAACP Image Awards (1998)
    • Outstanding Motion Picture - Winner
    • Outstanding Lead Actress in a Motion Picture (Vivica. A Fox) - Nomination
    • Outstanding Lead Actress in a Motion Picture (Vanessa L. Williams) - Winner
    • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture (Irma P. Hall) - Winner
    • Outstanding Youth Actor/Actress (Brandon Hammond) - Winner
  • Satellite Awards (1998)
    • Best Song ("A Song for Mama", music & lyrics by Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds) - Nomination

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Soul Food (1997)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved October 18, 2008. 
  2. ^ Vanessa L. Williams, who portrays Teri, is not to be confused with Vanessa A. Williams, who portrays Maxine in the television series based upon the film.
  3. ^ "K-Ci and JoJo Hailey enjoy success as duo with new image, new album 'Love Always.'". Jet. 1997-11-24. Retrieved 2008-11-28. "Recently, they appeared in the movie, Soul Food, as a part of the group Milestone, which consists of hit-maker Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds and his brothers, After 7 group members Kevon and Melvin Edmonds. Milestone performed its love ballad I Care 'Bout You in the movie, and the song is on the platinum soundtrack for the flick." 
  4. ^ http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=soulfood.htm
  5. ^ http://www.boxofficemojo.com/weekend/chart/?yr=1997&wknd=39&p=.htm

External links[edit]