Late to the mission from God! A review of Blues Brothers

Prologue by Ryan Stites:

Mrs. Tarantino: “Are you the police?”

Elwood: “No, ma’am. We’re musicians. “

This blog is all about Laura and her quest to right the cinematic wrongs in her life, but let’s talk about me first real quick. The Blues Brothers is probably my favorite movie of all time (Jaws being #1a, thankfully, she’s seen that one). I only bring this up because I wonder how this movie comes across to someone that has never seen it and only knows the movie/characters post-John Belushi. Bless Dan Aykroyd for his work on SNL and writing this movie, but the man has done everything but dig up Belushi’s corpse and have it hock House of Blues merchandise (he also should be deported back to Canada for allowing Jim Belushi to appear as a Blues brother). I’m a little worried that Laura’s frame of reference will be clouded by what has happened since the movie*, but a lot of that is probably my own baggage. The Blues Brothers themselves have aged poorly as a property, but the movie is timeless.

The movie hits a lot of personal wheelhouses; growing up Catholic, a giant SNL dork, Chicago (fun fact no one cares about: Car 55 flying into a truck was filmed in my hometown!), car chases, fantastic music. Hell, even Steven Spielberg is in it. Personal business aside, I think Laura will discover multiple things she missed pop culturally, love that lit-rally everyone is in it and like this movie a lot for similar reasons…maybe not so much the Catholic stuff, but just go with it. If she doesn’t our friendship is probably over.

*A quick note on the sequel that never, never, ever should have happened: If you fast forward to the music numbers, it becomes tolerable. Even then, you feel bad for everyone involved and it is best to pretend it didn’t happen.

On a “WHAT? You haven’t seen _____?!?” scale of 1-10 (10 being the highest level of shock, disappointment and sad) I’m going to assign an 7.5 to this just because there was a period of time between roughly 1993-1997 where this movie was on TBS roughly three times a day and I’m not sure how Laura didn’t at least come across it in passing. Also, it is pretty much a musical and she loves musicals.

LTTM Review:

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

Soooooo, I never saw The Blues Brothers on SNL. Is that bad? I’m definitely curious to go through and watch some reruns to see how this worked as a sketch.

Blues Brothers movie poster

Blues Brothers (1980)

Like Ryan mentioned this movie is pretty much a musical. But not just any musical! A musical where Aretha Franklin makes an appearance teaching her man a thing or two (unsuccessfully), Ray Charles shoots a gun, James Brown sweats a lot, Chaka Khan is a BACKGROUND singer. [And all of the cameos are not just singers. Twiggy makes a small appearance, Carrie Fisher shows up several times with several different incendiary devices, and Steven Spielberg has an incredible performance as the tax man towards the end of the movie.] It’s the only “musical” that Kevin will ever enjoy, so Blues Brothers gets major kudos for that.

Another item of note: while living in Chicago I never once had the chance to drive on Lower Wacker. Based on the Blues Brothers and Batman scenes that take place on Lower Wacker, I assume there is a car chase down there every hour during the day.

While I enjoyed this movie a ton, I don’t think it hits anywhere near my top list of movies I’ve ever seen, or even seen as a part of this project. It’s funny and I really had a good time watching it, don’t get me wrong. But I think Ryan’s Chicago homerism might be getting the best of him (Jaws is INFINITELY better, plus there are sharks). This isn’t even my favorite Dan Aykroyd movie (Ghostbusters II) or my favorite John Belushi movie (Animal House). It’s also not my favorite SNL sketch-turned-movie (Wayne’s World or *cough* Coneheads). That said, Angels in the Outfield is one of my favorite movies so I can understand letting weird quirks  and sentimentality get the best of you. [Or maybe it’s a Catholic guilt thing.]

If you love music, if you love car chases, and if you hate Illinois Nazis, I think you’ll really enjoy this movie. If you’re late to every movie like I am, I’d prioritize lower than some of the other movies I’ve watched so far, but I do recommend that everyone watch it.

Face palm moment: 

I can’t get into details but the community computers at my agency all use the same password. After seeing this movie, I realized that the password is a Blues Brothers reference. I’m a dweeb.

Favorite part: 

As a former Chicago resident, I just really liked seeing different aspects of Chicago that I recognized. I got so excited when I saw a Jewel, you have no idea. Related: I am a dweeb.

The “I missed that in pop culture trivia” moment: 

I honestly can’t think of anything in particular that I was really missing from the movie. I’m not sure this movie is quite as quotable as some of the others I’ve seen.

Regrettable tardiness scale (out of 10): Don’t kill me Ryan. It’s not at the top of my list as far as regrettability, simply because there are so many other movies that I had missed out on and prioritized higher. I’ll give it a six or so here. BUT YOU SHOULD STILL WATCH.


11 responses to “Late to the mission from God! A review of Blues Brothers

  1. Ryan, I’d like to buy you an orange whip.

    Laura, you don’t have nearly enough regret about missing this movie for so goddam long so I’m afraid it’ll just be TWO orange whips.

    Also, I can’t believe no one really delved into John Landis’ massive ego and the fact that he is now essentially unemployed after having done bot this and “Animal House.” Aykroyd is still making a living off of Belushi, I cna’t believe Landis hasn’t figured out a way to make fat stacks off his mouldering corpse as well.

    • His career just falls off the planet after Coming To America. He is still very involved with smaller horror projects, but it almost seems like he just doesn’t want to work anymore. Aside from this movie, he is responsible for some of my favorite comedies ever, you just have to kind of push that whole “he sort of kind of got three people killed on Twilight Zone” thing aside.

      • And orphaned (well half-orphaned) poor sweet Jennifer Jason Leigh, whom I would have been more than happy to comfort had she but only asked.

  2. We’re good here, Laura. While I think it is definitely more quotable than you give it credit for, I definitely think given some of the titles in your LTTM catalog, having not seen this movie isn’t nearly as rage inducing. Still essential viewing, especially someone with your tastes & interests, but it’s not like it is Die Hard or something.

    Jaws is clearly a *better* movie, but lots of stuff comes into play when you deem thing “favorite”. On the other hand, Jaws doesn’t have Pee-Wee playing a waiter… We’re just going to gloss over the whole Ghostbusters II comment.

    As for the original SNL performances, there are only three and it was just musical numbers.

    Really glad you liked it, now please send me my Blu-ray back.

  3. So we’re on to the new list now, right?

  4. My father is going to be aghast at this. If he ever reads it, which he won’t. Blues Brothers is maybe his favorite movie, with Blazing Saddles at 1a. There was a fantastic article in … Vanity Fair? a few months back about the making of Blues Brothers and it was filled with stories of Belushi getting loaded and wandering off late at night. Ackroyd had developed a sixth sense about where Belushi went, so he headed off across a field and found that Belushi had wandered into a house and started raiding the fridge. The couple who lived there fed him and then he crashed on the couch until Ackroyd collected him and took him back to the set.

  5. I think of Blues Brothers as more of a movie to enjoy reminiscing about and quoting rather than going back and actually watching again–much like Blazing Saddles. The stuff towards the end just seems to go on forever, and it kind of loses steam IMHO.

    But it is definitely worth a watch, just so you get all of the jokes and enjoy the music/cameos.

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