The Blues Brothers

February 23, 2010
"It's 106 miles to Chicago. We've got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark, and we're wearing sunglasses." "Hit it." What started as a popular Saturday Night Live skit, with characters portrayed by Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi, wound up becoming an actual blues band, with their first album - Briefcase Full of Blues - being released in November of 1978. It wouldn't stop there, though, as the idea for a Blues Brothers film would come up as their popularity grew, and John Landis was eventually selected as the director for the film. The decision makes sense, as John Landis was known as an over-the-top director, therefore he'd be great with over-the-top characters, right? However, as enjoyable as the Blues Brothers are, this film can sometimes be too over-the-top for its own good.

The plot, absurd yet simple, starts when Jake and Elwood - the Blues Brothers - are reunited after the former is released from prison. The duo then take on a "mission from God" after they learn that the orphanage they grew up in is going to face foreclosure. Having to rely on honest methods, the two try to raise the $5,000 needed by re-forming their group, The Blues Brothers Band. Hilarity and chaos ensues, of course.

I'm a huge fan of The Blues Brothers, so it's hard to remain unbiased about the characters in this film. Jake and Elwood are great and hilarious characters, so it's virtually impossible to not like the brothers. I'll admit, a few of their quips are more hit-and-miss, but the amount of good lines in The Blues Brothers outweighs any bad ones.

The music numbers are all really enjoyable as well, and some of the Brothers' best covers can be found in this film. Somebody To Love, the Rawhide theme, the Peter Gunn theme, Gimme Some Lovin', and Sweet Home Chicago - I could go on. The Brothers are also able to pair up with big names like Cab Calloway, Aretha Franklin, and Ray Charles, which should be enjoyable for anybody who loves jazz. These music numbers are fun, light-hearted, and perhaps some of the most enjoyable scenes of The Blues Brothers.

As fun and musical as this film is, it takes the whole over-the-top aspect way too far at points. I'm not referring to Jake or Elwood, as they're supposed to be that way, but the rest of the supporting characters is a mixed bag. Some people, like the neo-Nazis or the Mystery Woman, can be pretty good, while others just try WAY too hard, the cop characters being the first that come to mind. These people behave so absurdly, to the point where it takes some of the humor out of the Blues Brothers' performances. If you have absurd characters in a normal world, it's funny. If you have absurd characters in an absurd world, the absurdists' humor becomes "normal". This really harms the film in a bad way, because it just nullifies some of the absurd comments made by Jake or Elwood.

The Blues Brothers isn't necessarily a 'great film' or a great comedy. It is, however, a fun movie. Though some of the humor is taken away by how serious and stark the supporting characters are, Jake and Elwood Blues remain two great characters that this reviewer is extremely fond of. It's over-the-top, it's chaotic, it's absurd - but it's still quite funny.

7/10 - Good

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