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Title: Soul Man
Year Of Release: 1986
Review Date: August 3, 2021
Rating: PG-13
Running time: 99 minutes
Box Office Gross: $35,000,000
Site Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

NOTE: film review contains spoilers

"Soul Man" is the 1986 comedy starring C. Thomas Howell and Rae Dawn Chong. "Soul Man" is about a young white man, Mark, who wants to be a lawyer, and pretends to be black to get a scholarship to Harvard University, after his dad financially cuts him off.

He submits an application to Harvard law school, uses tanning pills in large quantities to darken his skin (which is medically inadvisable) and wears an afro wig, in order to pull off the scam. He is awarded a full scholarship that was designated for a black man.

While pretending to be black he is racially abused at Harvard by rich white students. He falls in love with black student, Sarah, played by Rae Dawn Chong. She has a young son, George, and Mark becomes a part of their lives.

However, when his scam of pretending to be black unravels, he realizes his misconduct has hurt people who considered him a friend, such as Sarah and her young son, George, as well as Mark's African-American professor, Mr. Banks, played by veteran actor, James Earl Jones.

"Soul Man" is an interesting film. It has teachable moments. It made some good points that should not be ignored, as it showed the racism black people face in society.

I read there was some controversy at the time over Howell wearing blackface in the film. While I do not agree with blackface, there really was no way of getting this film done correctly without artificially darkening Howell's skin for the role. So for that reason, I do not object to it in this particular instance.


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