The Good

The Bad

They just don’t make movies like The Blues Brothers anymore. Maybe they do and I just don’t see it, but as far I can tell they don’t. This tale of Jake and Elwood Blues, two brothers “on a mission from God,” to try get the band back together and save the orphanage they were raised in is hilarious. It almost has a fairy tale quality in that despite the adult nature of this film, everything works out perfectly in the end. I am sure that some people watching the film aren’t going to “buy” the characters or their situations, but this isn’t a film to be watched like that. It is a film to simply enjoy. To pop into your DVD player and just revel in it’s brilliance.

The chemistry between Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi is awesome. Watching this film I couldn’t help but wonder what may have been had Belushi’s life not been cut short by drugs. However, I am not sure that Belushi would have ever done a sequel to this film. He seemed, despite his crazy antics, to be very much an artist. Someone who very sincerely took what he did seriously, regardless of how “crazy” the general public may have thought he was. Watching this film, I was reminded of why we love comedies when they are done right. It is hard to explain but this film crossed every line that it possibly could, and I don’t know if in today’s studio climate it would be able to do that.

Still I have hope and that is what makes The Blues Brothers so special. It shows me that if it can happen once it can happen again.

Features

Stories Behind the Making of the Blues Brothers, Going Rounds: A Day on the Blues Brothers Tour, Transposing the Music and Musical Highlights

I had no idea that the Blues Brothers were a band, then they brought the skit to Saturday Night Live and then from there this movie was created. I used to always think it was odd when I would see that the Blues Brothers were actually playing live shows, but they are indeed a blues band. It’s not all about the movie and it’s not all a joke. I feel like my eyes have been opened to something that I always knew was there, but never quite believed was there. These extras also show us the many spin-offs and the sequels that this movie generated. I never knew the far reaching effect that this film had. The musical highlights are just the musical numbers from the movie.

Introduction to the film by Dan Aykroyd and Remembering John

These pieces gave me a reverential feeling not only for John Belushi but for The Blues Brothers as a whole. Hearing people talk about Belushi and seeing clips of how ahead of his time he was, I really got to know more about him and I could understand his story. I was very young when he died and it really didn’t hit me. Looking back, you can almost see the void that he created. Sure, many other great comedic actors came after him, but I would really have liked to have seen which way his career went. Does he go the Bill Murray route and do films that are seen as funny but more on the arty side? Or, would he have ended up like Eddie Murphy? Something tells me it would have been somewhere in between, but always uniquely John Belushi.

Video

There are two versions of this movie on this DVD and they are both in Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1. The extended version is 2 Hrs. and 28 minutes as opposed to the theatrical version (on Side B of the DVD) which clocks in at 2 Hrs. and 13 minutes. I have an affinity for television shows from the 1970s and for early 80s movies. When I was kid (and even now) there was something intense about these comedies. Sure, they were funny, but it seemed like something forbidden. As if I knew I was watching something that was “naughty” yet at the same time it also made me laugh, so how could it really be bad, right? I know that making this film wasn’t easy, and that as production continued the costs escalated, but this film seems like it had a charmed life where everything fell into place.

Audio

English Dolby Digital 5.1 for the Extended Version and English, Spanish and French Dolby Digital 2.0 for the theatrical version. One thing I love about rewatching these older films is how many more things I “catch” each time I watch them. I don’t know that this is a sound issue, so much as the fact that so much is going on amid the mise-en-scene that I am now able to focus my concentration elsewhere. I not only love the humor of this movie, but I also appreciate the music that is on display. Everything sounds quite good and while maybe I might get something more out of a better system than the one I currently use, I really feel that my crummy, 13”, one speaker system easily gets the job done.

Package

On the front cover, Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi are dressed in their trademark Blues Brothers garb, each holding up the title of this movie as if they are having mug shots taken. The back features a large extras listing, a description of the film, cast list and technical specs. There is only one disk for this 25th Anniversary edition with both versions of the film getting a side. There is a lot of white, blue and black on this simple cover and I doubt that this release needs anything more.

Final Word

I think it is about time that I start going through the work of John Landis. That I start viewing each and every one of his films. I know that there are probably some “dogs” in there, I just find that he has a comic sensibility that I can really appreciate. It is very subtle but it’s also in the foreground, and to be able to achieve that balancing act is something that speaks of genius. I know that some people may simply see his films as comedies and that’s all, but that right there isn’t something that he can be faulted for. He seems to have had a gift for making social statements, comedy and over-the-top humor all work in one setting.

I am so happy to add The Blues Brothers to my collection. This is the kind of film that was made to be screened again and again.

The Blues Brothers was released June 16, 1980.