Blues Brothers, The (1980)

“I say we give the Blues Brothers one more chance.”

Synopsis:
While gathering their old band members together for a fundraising concert, ex-con Jake Blues (John Belushi) and his brother Elwood (Dan Aykroyd) must dodge the police, an angry country-and-western band, and Jake’s jilted fiancee (Carrie Fisher).

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary notes, this popular “Saturday Night Live” spinoff suffers from a “slim” storyline, one-dimensional lead characters (“their dress is more interesting than their personalities”), and a lack of “good verbal wit”. Indeed, as a comedy, it falls flat nine out of ten times: even supposedly hilarious sequences — such as the Blues Brothers’ former Catholic schoolteacher (Kathleen Freeman) giving the grown siblings grief for their foul language — come across as cheap and unoriginal. As a musical, however, the movie benefits enormously from the talents of renowned blues artists James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, and others; their appearances mark the indisputable highlights of the film. Cameos by Carrie Fisher, John Candy, and others are wasted in this inexplicable cult favorite.

P.S. The Blues Brothers was renowned as the most vehicularly destructive film made to date — but a little of this goes a long way.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • James Brown leading his active congregation in a rip-roaring hymn
    Church
  • Belushi[‘s double] doing a series of excited flips down the aisle of Brown’s church
    Flips
  • Aretha Franklin’s sassy waitress singing a song while dissing her husband
    Aretha
  • The Blues Brothers performing at a country-and-western club behind a protective fence
    Fence

Must See?
Not, but it’s worth a one-time look simply for its status as a cult favorite.

Links:

One Response to “Blues Brothers, The (1980)”

  1. Not a must.

    “Inexplicable cult favorite” is right! Yet, this extended SNL skit is the kind of one-note dunderheadedness that was destined to be a crowd pleaser! Here is a prime example of the kind of movie you can pretty much see the finish of in the first 10-15 minutes (in which the thin plot is revealed; tho it’s not really a plot – it’s a gameboard goal).

    There’s the argument that this is more of a ‘guy movie’ – the finish bears that out; guys do love to see things smashing together – but, generally speaking, if you have to be a guy to get it…this is your encouragement to meet other guys.

    Though there are several music legends on board here, the o-n-l-y time one of them makes this film come alive – as a film – is when Aretha sings ‘Think’. It’s basically the only electric 5 minutes the movie has going for it. (Fast-forward about an hour in.)

    Much of the film is so self-important, and the pacing is often so off, that one is fighting tedium.

    Note two of the rich ‘gay’ moments, though: when Belushi and Aykroyd sing lead vocals for ‘Stand By Your Man’; and, late in the film, when a Nazi reveals to his Nazi superior, “I’ve always loved you.” (~a rare moment of real wit)

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.