Soul Food

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +2

Content: -2 1/2

Sunday evenings are very special at the home of Mother Joe. The matriarch of a large, often embattled clan, Mother Joe presides over a 40-year tradition of sumptuous Sunday family dinners. Fried chicken, sweet cornbread, smoke-cooked ham, and deep dish cobbler are only a few of the dishes she serves up with the help of her three daughters, Teri, Maxine, and Bird. But family dinners is about the only thing the girls seem to have in common. Teri (Vanessa Williams) is the family success story, an attorney with beauty, brains, and money. Maxine (Vivica A. Fox) plays the full-time homemaker raising her son with her loving husband. And Bird (Nia Long) has just married an ex-convict and opened a beauty salon. The plot stews to a boil as Mother Joe falls into a diabetic coma, Teri's husband forsakes wealth for his music, and Bird's husband returns to crime after he loses his job. As a result, the whole family begins falling apart. Only Ahmad, Maxine's ten-year-old son, remembers the secret of family success. SOUL FOOD will see mild returns at the box-office as a result of its fully-developed characters and strong cast.

What a shame. This movie has a powerful, positive message for the African-American community. The centrality of the family unit is extolled, and loyalty to kin over selfish desires is proclaimed. Why is this movie a shame, then? It is simply chock-full and filled to the brim with foul language and sex. The opening scene, Bird's wedding reception, finds her bridegroom doing the "bump 'n grind" -- a sexually explicit form of dance -- with a female wedding guest. Later, viewers watch Bird and her husband have passionate sex in her mother's bathroom. Eventually, Teri's husband commits adultery with his wife's wayward, yet artistically inclined, sister. In all these scenes, the only nudity comes in the form of a glimpse of a man's rear. But the sexually explicit material takes its toll. In addition, 19 crude words and 42 obscenities pollute the dialogue. The Lord's name is taken in vain nine times. Much like the cholesterol-rich cuisine Mother Joe serves up, SOUL FOOD will clog the moral arteries of its viewers.

Preview Reviewer: Jason Shepherd
Twentieth Century Fox, 10201 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles,CA 90035

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Many (19) times - Mild 9, Moderate 10

Obscene Language: Many (42) times - s-word 12, f-word 26, other 4

Profanity: Several (9) times - Regular 7 (J 3, Lord 2, GD 2), Exclamatory 2 (Oh my God)

Violence: Few times - Moderate (man gets roughed up by gang members, man uses gun threat on others)

Sex: Twice (married couple makes love in bathroom; man has sex with wife's sister)

Nudity: Once (male rear nudity in adultery scene)

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Many times (sexually suggestive dancing by woman in revealing dress, woman uses slang term for her sexual organ, obscene lyrics in rap song, man places dollar bill in woman's bra)

Drugs: Several times (social beer and wine drinking, smoking)


Running Time: 100 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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