Blues Brothers, The

Reviewed By PyThomas
Posted 11/04/98 03:00:37

"We're on a mission from God."
5 stars (Awesome)

"It's 106 miles to Chicago, we've got a full tank of gas, it's dark and we're wearing sunglasses." "Hit it."

The Blues Brothers is one of those one-of-a-kind films that just can't be duplicated. (John Landis and Dan Aykroyd pretty much proved it in 1998 with their disappointing sequel.) The writers came up with a perfect melding of screwball comedy, spontaneous dancing and blues-rock showcase.

The story begins with Jake (John Belushi in one of his last grea... ah, fuck it... in his LAST great performance indeed) getting out of prison and shuttled off by his brother Elwood (Aykroyd). They pay a visit to the orphanage they grew up in and the "penguin" who looked after them (Kathleen Freeman). They learn from her and their blues mentor Curtis (Cab Calloway) that the orphanage owes $5,000 in property taxes and unless it shows up at the tax office in 11 days, the orphanage will be forced to close.

A subsequent revival service at a nearby Baptist church (led by His Funkiness James Brown) inspires Jake to come up with a plan: Get the old Blues Brothers Band back together and put on a fund-raising show. It won't be easy, though... most of the old band members have more sensible jobs now, and it doesn't help to have Aretha Franklin for a wife, either.

Along the way to the concert, they encounter a gang of neo-Nazi white supremacists, a vengeful honky-tonk band, an even more vengeful pyromaniac of a woman (Carrie Fisher), and lots and lots of law-enforcement folk. Among these Illinois' Finest, for no particular reason, is John Candy as a criminal investigator. Other cameos include Ray Charles, John Lee Hooker, Chaka Khan and Steven Spielberg (as the tax assessor who takes the Blues' money at the end).

Sure, a few parts of it are pretty crazy (You can make a car backflip over another by just slamming on the brakes? Yeah, right. And what's with casting Laugh-In's poet laureate Henry Gibson as a neo-Hitler?), but the whole effort is such a zany, madcap comedy rush that the illogical parts of it don't subtract much from the film.

And the action... well, it's a demolition derby enthusiast's dream: tons of police cars are wrecked and piled up; one of them rips into an 18-wheeler; a shopping mall gets gutted; Chicago's city hall gets some of its doors chopped up and blown away; and Princess Leia blows up a run-down hotel and a propane tank. All in the name of comedy and entertainment.

The Blues Brothers is a classic in its own league. Although it wasn't a blockbuster at the box office or a winner at the Oscars, it's on its way to being a cult-fave legend (if it hasn't achieved that already).

© Copyright HBS Entertainment, Inc.