Reel Matt

This blog started as my movie marathon — watching a movie a day for a whole year — and has continued as a place for me to write reviews about movies, TV, and various other items.



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The Blues Brothers

Film #317


Jake Blues, just out from prison, puts together his old band to save the Catholic home where he and brother Elwood were raised.

Year 1, Day 323: Movie #317

BEFORE: Comedy rules the day again, this time with some older films. The Blues Brothers kicks things off, starring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd basing their characters off the Saturday Night Live sketches.

AFTER: I feel like recently my opinions of these films have been straight out of a George Carlin skit. “My needs aren’t being met.” “You know what I tell them? Drop some of your needs.” Much of my complaining has been based on the fact that the films have some really great bits, but they’re just being overshadowed by an extraordinary amount of garbage. Well The Blue Brothers continues with this pattern.

The best parts about the film are when the band is together and they’re playing music. Music is the heart and soul of this film with many legends gracing the screen like Aretha Franklin, James Brown, and Ray Charles. And yet, the band’s big performances don’t start until halfway through the film and then only last about a half hour or so. When everyone is together, things are moving: they’re funny, upbeat, and exciting. All the other nonsense which I’m going to talk about in a bit is still present, but with the singing and playing, the shenanigans take a back seat and don’t distract the audience. Impersonating the Good Ol’ Boys and rushing to get to the big show at the Palace Hotel still felt like the rest of the film. Nothing is different about these musical sections and non-musical sections except for the key fact that the musical sections have a purpose in the film and the other parts don’t.

But just not having a purpose isn’t the only reason I don’t like the non-musical sections. All of these other parts are way over-the-top, exaggerated nonsense. There probably isn’t one scenario in this film that obeys laws of physics or logic. Examples include: (1) the horrible aim/incredible luck of Mystery Woman (Carrie Fisher) and the Blues brothers (John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd) respectively; (2) the gross destruction of property including piles of cop cars and a demolition of a mall; and (3), the unbelievable amount of law enforcement in Chicago to take down two men charged with what have to be misdemeanors. Every one of these examples and more throughout the film are absolutely ridiculous. I assume the point is to be so absurd that it’s comical (wow, look at those storefronts be obliterated due to purposefully bad driving, ha ha). And the film has gained a cult following since its release in 1980 so obviously people find it amusing. Personally, it just reeks of going for an easy laugh but doing so in such away that it goes past the point of funny and is just stupid. I will say though that the scene with the nun, Sister Mary “The Penguin” Stigmata (Kathleen Freeman), was quite amusing.

The Blues Brothers isn’t a bad film because it’s attempt at humor fails and is way to absurd and unbelievable. It is a bad film because these scenes have nothing to do with the point of the film - play music to help save the orphanage - and take up a good majority of the time. When you see the Blues brothers play, it’s fun and entertaining. But there’s just too little of that in the film to make it worth watching.

RATING: 2 out of 5