Even director Steve Miner and star C. Thomas Howell start off their excellent commentary track with the question, 'Was this a good idea at the time?' Though both are quite proud of the film, they readily acknowledge "Soul Man" is a concept that probably wouldn't see the light of day today. Written by the future co-creator of television's "Growing Pains" and "The Wonder Years" (the latter of which director Miner would become actively involved), "Soul Man" remains at its core a college comedy, though with more obvious attempts to make a few statements about race relations.
Though the film divided audiences in 1986 (which resulted in protests in front of theatres), the real attraction of this DVD is the commentary track, which is more that two old friends reminiscing about scenes, bloopers, and romances during production (though they do). Director Miner started out as an editor, and his skill often served him well in his tv and feature work, and he makes some frank observations on the changes in filmmaking since the 80s, with a bit more wistfulness from star Howell. There's a lot of candor, plenty of joking, and both star and director paint a vivid portrait of the actors and production team that produced not only a controversial film, but a movie, as Howell states several times, that saved studio New World Pictures from bankruptcy.
Anchor Bay's transfer is very good, benefiting from a clean print with balanced colours, and an effective Dolby 2.0 stereo mix with the usual collection of songs that were clearly used to sell a soundtrack album.
The other extras are a teaser and the film's theatrical trailer, and both are in relatively decent shape.
© 2002 Mark R. Hasan
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