Soul Food (1997)

Genres - Comedy Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Domestic Comedy, Ensemble Film, Family Drama  |   Release Date - Sep 26, 1997 (USA)  |   Run Time - 118 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Michael Costello

George Tillman Jr.'s warm domestic comedy took its place as part of a wave of films that began appearing in the 1990s, all of which presented a more typical picture of African-American life than had previously been the norm. Soul Food mixes broad humor with melodrama, sibling rivalry, and a dash of sex, as its extended family of characters comes together every Sunday to chow down at the home of matriarch Mama Joe (Irma Hall). The script, which centers on the lives of the three very different daughters of Mama Joe, is jammed with the many subplots in their lives, but Tillman deftly interweaves their stories, registering the subtle ways in which anger and love intermingle among the sisters. Vanessa Williams and Viveca A. Fox stand out as two of the sisters, as does Brandon Hammond as Ahmad, the film's genial young narrator. The movie was an enormous hit, boosting the career of Tillman, who went on to direct the similarly successful Men of Honor.