Generally favorable reviews - based on 15 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 15
  2. Negative: 1 out of 15
  1. Humor, sentiment and melodrama strike a balance as he brings to life nine major characters and a host of others as well.
  2. 90
    Director George Tillman Jr.'s screenplay covers an array of events in the characters' lives so replete with drama it could easily be too much, but the movie's humor is vibrant, the sorrow unexploitive, the sexuality character enhancing, and the love heartfelt--and Tillman is tremendously skilled at bridging the vast shifts in tone.
  3. 88
    George Tillman says Soul Food is based in part on his own family, and I believe him, because he seems to know the characters so well; by the film's end, so do we.
  4. 80
    But if you go in knowing this, the payoff is considerable - the film delivers on its feel-good promise.
  5. This new menu movie has a soapy plot, appealing stars, family values, down-home atmosphere and a conviction that there's rarely a problem fried chicken can't cure.
  6. Reviewed by: Godfrey Cheshire
    Soul Food serves up family melodrama-cum-comedy that's tasty and satisfying, if not particularly profound or original.
  7. The result is a lovely wash of humanity, served with affection.
  8. 75
    But it's also old-fashioned family drama that invites audience participation ("Don't you go making eyes at your cousin's husband, you little slut!"), and is surprisingly satisfying, in a gooey kind of way -- like macaroni and cheese or peach cobbler, perhaps.
  9. 75
    Nothing too fancy or ambitious. Instead, writer-director George Tillman Jr. serves up down-home fare that enriches the heart and leaves you satisfied if stuffed. [26Sep1997 Pg.06.D]
  10. 75
    Soul Food stays a cut above the average melodrama by keeping the characters grounded and the situations from becoming too ripe.
  11. In the tradition of such food-as-love films as "Eat Drink Man Woman" and "Big Night", kitchen work is idealized as a form of communion in this indulgently nostalgic story -- deep-fried with plot, script, and character cliches but honey glazed with goodwill...
  12. Reviewed by: Staff(not credited)
    Echoes of "Waiting To Exhale" are obvious, but this is a more smiley affair altogether, with perhaps a spoonful too much sugar stirred in at times, and emotional development often mixed from the most basic of recipes.
  13. Reviewed by: Lonnae O'Neal Parker
    While Soul Food aims to be the kind of hearty, satisfying story that sticks to your ribs, it comes across more like an appetizer or a midnight raid on the fridge. Tasty, but easily forgotten.
  14. What Soul Food lacks in narrative originality and flourish it nicely makes up for with wonderful performances by a large ensemble cast.
  15. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    It could be a distillation of some unaired black soap opera, so predictable are the plot contrivances--adultery, pregnancy, illness, missing money--and so cartoonishly are the characters drawn.

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