June 16th, 2009

THE BLUES BROTHERS (1980) ****

My wife had never seen The Blues Brothers before, which is kinda odd when you think about it; seeing how she loves musicals and old school Saturday Night Live.  Last night I basically made her watch it and I think she liked it, even though she fell asleep before the monumental 28 car pile-up in the end.

 

I’ve seen The Blues Brothers dozens of times and it still makes me laugh like crazy.  To me, this is the best musical ever made (and yes, it is a musical because the musical numbers help to advance the story), the funniest Saturday Night Live movie, AND the best car chase flick of all time.  (Anyone who tells you Vanishing Point is the best car chase movie is higher than a hippie in a helicopter.)  It’s also the best non-American Werewolf in London movie John Landis ever directed.

 

The plot is simple.  Jake Blues (John Belushi) gets out of jail and he and his brother Elwood (Dan Aykroyd) set out to put the old band back together in order to raise enough dough to save their old orphanage.  The plot is more or less just window dressing to hang a bunch of thoroughly wonderful R & B musical numbers on.  Besides belting out a couple of wonderful tunes themselves, The Blues Brothers also share the spotlight with James Brown, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, John Lee Hooker, and best of all; Cab Calloway, who does a smashing rendition of Minnie the Moocher.

 

If the movie was nothing but musical numbers, it would’ve been great, but Landis also delivers some of the most eye-popping car stunts ever witnessed.  The Bluesmobile (an old Dodge police car) is one of the baddest cars ever to grace the silver screen.  The stunts that this baby does are downright jaw-dropping.  Nearly three decades later, there hasn’t been a car that can top that one for sheer awesomeness.  

 

At the center of the flick though are two great performances by Belushi and Aykroyd.  They’ve never been better and their on screen chemistry and comedic timing is impeccable.  Their musical numbers are simply amazing (my favorite is “Chicago”) and will leave you wanting more.  (My only complaint is that they didn’t sing “Rubber Biscuit”, but oh well.)

 

Aykroyd and Landis re-teamed 18 years later for the much-hated sequel, Blues Brothers 2000.  (It still had some good musical numbers in it though.)

 

The Blues Brothers is Number 4 on The Video Vacuum Top Ten Films of 1980, just ahead of The Fog and right below Airplane!