The Blues Brothers

The 1980 musical comedy The Blues Brothers stars John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, James Brown, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, and the Blues Brothers Band.  The producer is Robert K. Weiss.  It is directed by John Landis.

The story begins with Joliet Jake Blues (Belushi) being released from prison.  His brother Elwood (Aykroyd) picks him up in a beat up old police car outside the jail.  Then, they return to the orphanage where they grew up and find out that unless $5,000 is paid, the orphanage will be closed.  The brothers vow to get that money “legally”.  Curtis (Calloway) tells them to go to a church down the street to get “churchin’ up”.  There, Jake sees the light (literally).  He decides that the only way to raise the money is to get the band back together.  One by one, the brothers locate each band member and convince him to come back together.  All is well except for one thing:  they don’t have any gigs.  But, they tell the rest of the band that they have one booked.  When one asks where the gig is, they randomly choose a country bar that they had just passed along the road.  After a rough beginning, the band makes it through the night.  But as the owner is about to pay them, he informs them that they owe $300 for the beer they drank (the gig was for only $200).  After the other bandmembers have left the bar, the Blues brothers run out on the bill.  The next day they secure a real gig at the Palace Hotel Ballroom the following night.  The brothers spend the day promoting the performance and, by the end of the day, they run out of gas.  This delays their arrival at the concert, where all the enemies that they have gained throughout the movie are waiting to pounce on them.

It is curious why the writers of the film chose to include neo-Nazis in the story.  About three years before the film was released, the real neo-Nazis were cleared to hold rallies in the Chicago area due to the famous Skokie Affair.  In 1978, they held three rallies in the Chicago area.  Since the story takes place primarily in Chicago, the writers may have been at least partially inspired by these events.  Coincidentally in the movie, the Blues brothers first encounter the neo-Nazis during a rally after a cop tells the brothers that the National Socialist White People’s Party had just won a court case allowing them to assemble.

Also, another interesting feature of this film is its satirical approach to the Blues brothers’ enemies.  Our first example of this happens in the beginning of the film when Jake and Elwood are pulled over for driving through a red light.  When the cops check Elwood’s driving license, it shows that it has been suspended.  The computer recommends the cops arrest Elwood and impound the vehicle, but before they can the brothers race off.  A ridiculously long car chase ensues through a mall parking lot and through a mall, causing thousands of dollars in damage.  Jake and Elwood get away but not without making some new enemies of those cops, who relentlessly pursue the brothers throughout the remainder of the movie.

A little later on in the film, a mystery woman tries repeatedly to kill the brothers.  She seems like an ordinary woman, except she always has an incredibly large weapon ready to use.  One of the first attempts she makes is in the morning just before Jake and Elwood wake up in Elwood’s room.  She detonates bombs set outside the brothers’ transcient apartment building.  The bombs cause the building to collapse just as the cops from the previous car chase are about to trap them.  Jake and Elwood emerge very much alive from the wreckage and seemingly unaware of what just happened.

To wrap this review, I believe that The Blues Brothers is an outrageously funny ride with a lot of action.

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