The Blues Brothers [retro review]

“I hate Illinois Nazis.”

The Scoop: 1980 R, directed by John Landis and starring John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, James Brown

Tagline: They’ll never get caught. They’re on a mission from God.

Summary Capsule: Two blues musicians run from the law, rednecks, the army, and Illinois Nazis in an effort to save an orphanage.

Justin’s Rating: I wear my sunglasses at night

Justin’s Review: In any college dorm room (male) there will be at least one of the two following items: A poster of John Belushi from Animal House, or a poster of John Belushi from Blues Brothers. Correct me if I’m wrong! And as women tell me, I’m always wrong. That’s why I ditched the last girlfriend who pulled a gun on me and said…

Whoops! Back to the review. I guess my caffeine-addled brain was trying to make a statement such as “Blues Brothers is very college”, or “Kill Barney” or something like that.

This is just a terrific, terrific, terrific, terrific movie that needs no exaggeration but probably a heavy dose of explanation. Based off of a Saturday Night Live skit, Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi bring their comedic-musical duo Blues Brothers to the screen in a rousing bit of cinematic excess. When Jake (Belushi) is released from prison, he teams back up with brother Elwood (Aykroyd) for the following three activities. To always wear their sunglasses, even at night. To get into toe-tappin’ musical numbers at the drop of a black felt hat. And to save an orphanage from financial ruin. Along the way they tick off the law, an ex-girlfriend, and (of course) the Illinois Nazis.

But don’t worry. They’re on a mission from God.

Why The Blues Brothers works on a plane higher than we mere mortals dare to dream is that Aykroyd and Belushi mostly play their characters with a complete deadpan earnestness. The contrast to the wanton destruction that their escapades cause is stark and hilarious — not to mention all of the old school soul and funk brought to you in cameo form by Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Cab Calloway and Ray Charles. The brothers get an almost completely unfair heaping of smashing dialogue that has since been immortalized in the hearts of geeks everywhere. It’s just a gold record of a film, if that makes sense.

Much better than the sequel that came out in 1997. Forget the sequel. The sequel did not happen. Get the shades, get the car, get the Blues Brothers.

Princess Leia is sick of stormtroopers standing her up on dates

Intermission!

  • Graffiti on the bridge the Blues Brothers hide their car under during the show reads “John *heart* Debbie.” This is a reference to director John Landis and his wife Deborah.
  • The scene in which the band appears in a sauna, clad only in towels, is an allusion to the cover photo on the 1973 Blood Sweat & Tears music album “No Sweat”, in which the BST band appears in a sauna in identical pose.
  • Every time we see the window in Elwood’s apartment a train goes past.
  • When Jake is released from prison, his watch is returned to him, broken. When the police car flips over in the mall, the police officer says “Hey, they broke my watch!” This line is repeated after every major car crash.
  • Elwood removes his hat three times in the film: when going to sleep in his room, to break the window to get into the Palace Hotel, and towards the end of the movie when the Bluesmobile falls apart. His sunglasses are never removed. Jake removes his sunglasses once, when he is talking to Carrie Fisher, but never removes his hat. In the DVD and cable versions, Elwood doesn’t wear sunglasses when he quits his job.
  • Elwood’s fake address at Wrigley Field (1060 West Addison) is used on the receipt they get for paying the $5000
  • Elwood’s Drivers license number is #B263-1655-2187 Elwood had 116 outstanding warrants for parking and 56 for moving violations. This can be seen when Trooper Mount and Trooper Daniel ran his D/L history when he was first pulled over.
  • Before the falling-Pinto scene could be filmed, the filmmakers had to get an “Air UN-worthyness certificate” from the Federal Aviation Administration for the Pinto. This was done by conducting preliminary drop tests to ensure that it would not behave as an airfoil and drift from its target line, but would drop “like a brick” when dropped from a great height.
  • This film held the world record for the number of cars crashed.
  • The infamous “Bluesmobile” is a 1974 Dodge Monaco. The vehicles used in the film were actual used police cars, and featured the “cop tires, cop suspension and cop motor – a 440 cubic-inch plant” mentioned by Elwood in the film.
  • Carrie Fisher guest-hosted the SNL episode the Blues Brothers debuted in.
  • The scene where the bluesmobile is driving at 115 MPH on Wells and Wacker Drive is real. The film crew received permission to clear the street for two 100 MPH+ passes. Stunt pedestrians were added after the first pass to add realism.
  • Is It Worth Staying Through End Credits? Definitely — the band plays Jailhouse Rock for your entertainment

Groovy Quotes

Jake Blues: How much for the little girl? Your women, how much for the women?

Jake Blues: I ran out of gas! I got a flat tire! I didn’t have change for cab fare! I lost my tux at the cleaners! I locked my keys in the car! An old friend came in from out of town! Someone stole my car! There was an earthquake! A terrible flood! Locusts! IT WASN’T MY FAULT, I SWEAR TO GOD!

Elwood Blues: Our Lady of Blessed Acceleration, don’t fail us now!

Elwood Blues: They’re not gonna catch us. We’re on a mission from God.

Elwood Blues: 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.
Jake Blues: Hit it!

Elwood: Illinois Nazis.
Jake: I hate Illinois Nazis.

Police officer: Use of unnecessary violence in the apprehension of the Blues Brothers has been approved.

If you liked this movie, try these:

  • Blues Brothers 2000
  • Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
  • The Chase
Advertisements

2 Comments

  1. It was just on VH1, with the uncut opening scene of the passes over the industrial smokestakes belching flames, no music.

    Then the first cut for TV: “(1) USED condom” held up with a pencil by Frank Oz, prison employee.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s