Picks and Pans Review: Soul Food

updated 10/06/1997 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/06/1997 01:00AM

Vanessa L. Williams, Vivica A. Fox

Soul Food is not a movie to see on an empty stomach. If you haven't eaten before showtime, the numerous, mouthwatering close-ups of fried chicken, black-eyed peas, macaroni and cheese, sweet potato pie and corn-bread will have you groaning, and you'll already be doing enough groaning at the complete predictability of this comedy-drama. That said, one can't help but feel essentially friendly toward this well-intentioned little movie about a close-knit black family that gathers every Sunday in Chicago for a mammoth meal at the home of the family matriarch (Irma P. Hall)—meals at which the three adult daughters (Williams, Fox and Nia Long) snipe at each other and at their spouses. Good humor and good intentions abound, and the talented ensemble cast works well together, with a flinty Williams, in particular, coming on strong. More to eat, anyone? (R)

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