Follow TV Tropes


Film / Soul Man

Go To

A 1986 teen comedy film directed by Steve Miner, starring C. Thomas Howell, Rae Dawn Chong, Arye Gross, James B. Sikking, Leslie Nielsen and James Earl Jones.

Mark Watson (Howell) is a spoiled rich kid, ready to coast by on daddy's dime to Harvard law school. But his father's psychiatrist has talked his father into having fun with his money instead of spending it on Mark.

Facing the prospect of having to pay his own way through law school, Mark stumbles upon a plan to ensure he doesn't spend a cent for his education: Take experimental "Tanning pills" to make himself appear black, and apply for a minority scholarship.

We're not making this premise up.

Even for 1986, Soul Man garnered no small share of controversy for its premise, receiving critical panning from reviewers, protests from the NAACP, and a general negative reception. None of which stopped it from being a box office hit, making its budget back by over 20 million dollars and opening up at #3 in the country.

This film features examples of:

  • Blackface: In 1986 no less.
  • Black Like Me: The general premise.
  • Ivy League for Everyone: Harvard, to be specific.
  • Karma Houdini: Mark essentially committed financial aid fraud to get that scholarship, a federal penalty punishable by up to five years in jail. His professor decides not to press charges in the end. Albeit only after agreeing to several conditions from volunteer work to donations as well as paying back the scholarship money.