'This is the Cosby decade!'
TODAY'S RETRO-REVIEW: In honor of C. Thomas Howell's 41st birthday, it's 1986's "Soul Man," sadly one of the least-remembered comedies of the 80s. Also starring Rae Dawn Chong and Arye Gross. Directed by Steve Miner, who is also remembered for his work on the "Friday the 13th" series.
THE PLOT: An over-privileged college graduate (Howell), just accepted to Harvard Law School, discovers that his parents have revoked the money set aside for grad school. So he overdoses on tanning pills and poses as a black student in order to win a full scholarship.
MAYBE YOU REMEMBER: Rae Dawn Chong and Howell were romantic interests in the film -- and in real life (eventually getting married, then divorced in 1990.)
SURELY YOU CAN'T FORGET: The movie is full of great supporting roles, including primo performances by James Earl Jones as the tough law professor and Leslie Nielsen as the discriminating landlord.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID: "This is a genuinely interesting idea, filled with dramatic possibilities, but the movie approaches it on the level of a dim-witted sit-com." -- Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times.
WHY WE LOVE IT ANYWAY: Dim-witted, Roger? That hurts. Along with "Airplane" and "Ferris Bueller," it's one of few 80s movies that has your attention from start to finish. And Arye Gross might have the single, best supporting role of the decade here. ("Wow... Mark... a black Negro!")
TOP 5 LINES FROM SOUL MAN:
5. "Mom! Dad! There's something I have to tell you... I'm black."
4. "What's happening, brother? Get down, get down. Looking good, mamma, looking good. Well, I gots to be going now!"
3. "She told me they have support for people whose parents are poor, but not for those whose parents are a--holes."
2. "This is the Cosby decade. America loves black people."
1. "A black Negro? He never told me he was a black Negro."