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Matriarch Mama Joe has held her family together for 40 years around a Sunday dinner of soul food. When diabetes hospitalizes her, the dinners stop and tensions among her three daughters start to break the family apart. Two of the sisters feud continuously: Teri is jealous of Maxine's marriage and irritated that everyone assumes her corporate salary is open to the rest of the family's uses. Maxine resents Teri's bossiness and insensitivity to family tradition. Bird, the youngest, newly married to an ex-con, accepts a favor from an old lover that leads to her husband's arrest. Mama Joe's grandson Ahmad cooks up a scheme to bring the family together, back to the table. Written by
SOUL FOOD is an entertaining and, at times moving film that chronicles the lives of a tight-knit African American family. Big Mama (Irma P. Hall) is the widowed patriarch and referee who always knows exactly what to say to her children in any situation. Vanessa Williams is Terri, the oldest daughter, a no-nonsense attorney who spends a lot of time bailing family members out of tight spots and never lets them forget it. Terri's husband Miles (Michael Beach) is also an attorney who really wants to be a musician and is fighting an attraction to Terri's flaky cousin Faith (Gina Ravera). Viveca A. Fox is Maxine, the middle daughter who is married to Kenny (Jeffrey D. Sams), who we learn she stole from Terri when they were teenagers and has a son Ahmad (Brandon Hammond)who assists Big Mama in her job as family referee. The story opens at the wedding of youngest daughter Bird (Nia Long)whose new husband (Mikhi Phifer)is having trouble securing employment because of his stint in prison. The family manages to handle their differences until Big Mama is incapacitated by illness and can no longer be peacekeeper, but young Ahmad, seeing his family crumble, steps up to take up the slack. This entertaining comedy-drama has a surprisingly smart screenplay and first-rate performances, with young Hammond a standout. Lovely family drama that affectionately embraces the experience of a loving African American family. And the food looks delicious!
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