Soul Man | Chicago Reader

Soul Man

The first affirmative-action backlash film, with C. Thomas Howell playing a college student who wins a minority scholarship to Harvard Law School after dyeing his skin black (1986). Despite the regressive signaling of the theme, director Steve Miner (House) wants everyone to know that, yes, racial discrimination is a very bad thing and that no Caucasian hominid, not even an impeccably credentialed right-thinker such as himself, can ever understand the pain of being black, etc, etc. The result is a treacly bit of sermonizing and social-worker cliche that doesn't even have the courage of its own ostensibly coarse intentions. But anxious white audiences will be gratified to learn that overprivileged honkies make the best brothers of all. With Rae Dawn Chong, Arye Gross, Leslie Nielsen, and a droning, one-note performance from James Earl Jones as a John Houseman-ish law prof.

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