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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Movie Review - The Blues Brothers

The Blues Brothers







" There's 106 miles to Chicago, we've got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark out, and we're wearing sunglasses."

What more can be said about The Blues Brothers? Joliet Jake and Elwood Blues are on a mission from God to save their orphanage from being shut down by the government for back taxes owed. So they do what any other  blue blooded American would do. They gather up their old band, hit the road and find a way to make the money needed to save the penguin and their old home.

Along the way there are some run ins with the law, an outlaw country band and of course the goddamn Illinois Nazis. But if that wasn't enough, the Blues Brothers also get to sing and dance with such luminaries as Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, and Cab Calloway. Musicals like this don't come along very often and when they do, they are fantastic. Magical, even.

John Landis is a brilliant director. The ability to put together such a huge cast of talented actors, throw in unbelievably funny (and unrealistic) scenes that doesn't ruin the flow of the movie and give us a soundtrack that resurrected several careers.

What's great about this movie, is that it flows. The music doesn't get in the way of the comedy and the comedy doesn't get in the way of the story. The characters are the important part of the movie and how they react to their situations, moving from scene to scene effortlessly to pull us into the the film.

The chemistry between Belushi and Akroyd is lightning in a bottle. The Blues Brothers idea came from a Saturday Night Live sketch, where Akroyd and Belushi, dressed as "killer bees" joined Howard Shore and his All-Bee Band and did the song "King Bee", from there it snowballed. Akroyd had rented a bar and he and Belushi filled the jukebox with all sorts of old blues and their favorite bands. From Rock to Funk and even some Punk. They even had instruments set up for anyone that wanted to play, and boy did they attract a crowd.

It was at the bar that Akroyd wrote the "tome" the first draft of the Blues Brothers and what we got was cinematic greatness. How great can a movie be, when you have an absolutely chaotic environment, as the Jake and Elwood Blues rush in to the Cook County clerk's office, all the while blocking the entrances with all sorts of furniture and trash cans, then when they get on the elevator, they become calm and collected. As if this were an expected thing.

The same thing happens when they get to the clerks office. There's a sign on the door, the clerk will be back soon and they have to wait. With all the patience of a doctor performing surgery, Jake and Elwood stand at the door of the Cook County clerk's office, waiting for someone to open the door and let them in. This is comedy gold.

This movie seems to have these moments, all the time. The Blues Brothers are never really in a rush. They seem calm and collected (most of the time), while their entire world around them is going to hell. I would be a complete douche if I didn't mention Carrie Fisher and her role in the film. Trying to kill Jake every chance she gets, only to be sucked in by his charming demeanor at the end of the movie. Even though he's not serious about it and she can't help but be taken in by his character.

This movie was an instant classic. The soundtrack, the acting, the fun that everyone seemed to be having, this is what the magic of cinema is all about. It's a shame that we didn't get another film out of this series, but we do get to watch this one as much as we want.

God bless John Belushi and his impact on comedy and movies. His body of work may be limited, but we are still able to enjoy what he gave us.

8.5 out of 10

The Blues Brothers (1980)
R | 2h 13min | Action, Comedy, Crime | 20 June 1980 (USA)

Jake Blues, just out from prison, puts together his old band to save the Catholic home where he and brother Elwood were raised.
Director: John Landis
Writers: Dan Aykroyd, John Landis
Stars: John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Cab Calloway

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