Aretha Franklin

The Blues Brothers – Review #53

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I’m pretty sure I’m not exaggerating when I say this film is one of a kind.

The Blues BrothersThe Blues Brothers, directed by John Landis, tells the story of Jake and Elwood Blues, brothers and lead vocalists for the band ‘The Blues Brothers’. After Jake is released from prison, the two try to raise $5000 to pay the back taxes for the orphanage they grew up in to prevent it from closing. They try to do so by getting their old band together. What follows is excellent music, beautifully done car stunt-work, and raunchy comedy all bundled up neatly in a little two-and-a-half hour package.

If this film has a definitive category, I have no idea what it is. It’s a mixture of various genres that have rarely clashed before, if ever. Yeah, there are action comedies, and yes, there are comedy musicals, but when’s the last time you saw an action comedy musical? Not only that, an action comedy musical that’s done this well? Nothing seems out of place, thanks to John Landis’ brilliant directing. The banter between Jake and Elwood is humorous, the car stunts are amazingly choreographed, and the music is top-notch blues.

While this movie is a clash of genres, its central theme is about music, so I guess it’s mostly a musical. And as a musical, The Blues Brothers has one of the best movie soundtracks ever devised. Every song in the movie is well played, well sung, and sometimes even well danced-to. From the simplistic cool of the Peter Gunn Theme to Aretha Franklin’s amazing vocals in Think, and to arguably the most famous song from the movie, John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd’s cover of Everybody Needs Somebody to Love. Speaking of Aretha Franklin, the movie has a few cameos from legendary music stars. We have Aretha, of course, best known for her single Respect, to Ray Charles making me sweaty by doing the twist, to the freaking Godfather of Soul himself James Brown basically baptizing us with song. Even you have no interest in the movie, at least check out the soundtrack. The amount of sheer blues in it will consume you whole.

So, the music is great. Do you know what else is great? The stunt-work. Yeah, you don’t expect stunt-work to come form a musical, do you? But that’s how the Blues Brothers roll, and boy can they roll. And crash. Dozens of police cars are just wrecked with seemingly no care for any repercussions. You have the Dodge Monaco police cars crashing into each other, various debris spilling out of them; you have the Nazi Pinto dropping out of the sky; you even have the Bluesmobile doing a freaking back-flip in the air. A total of 103 cars were wrecked during production, and it shows.

Last thing I want to talk about before ending this review is the acting, and here’s where the movie falls a bit. I have no problem with the main stars, of course- Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi’s off-beat humor fits perfectly well with the tone of the movie. It’s the side characters and singers that are more ‘eh’. As much as I love Aretha, you can tell she’s much more comfortable at singing than at acting. Same goes for some of the band members. But that’s a few flaws in a waterfall of praise.

In conclusion, The Blues Brothers is a film unlike any other. There was nay a film like it before its release, and there hasn’t been a film like it since. A ‘classic’ in every sense of the word.