Blues Brothers, The (1980)

Blues Brothers, The (1980)

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

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, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Comedy
  • Dan Aykroyd Films
  • Ex-Cons
  • John Belushi Films
  • John Landis Films
  • Let’s-Put-On-a-Show!
  • Musicians

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.

Note: 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
  • Belushi[‘s double] doing a series of excited flips down the aisle of Brown’s church
  • Aretha Franklin’s sassy waitress singing a song while dissing her husband
  • The Blues Brothers performing at a country-and-western club behind a protective fence

Must See?
No, but it’s worth a one-time look simply for its status as a cult favorite.


One thought on “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)

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