Tag Archives: Aretha Franklin

The Blues Brothers (1980, John Landis)

I wonder if Cab Calloway got upset he only got half a music video in The Blues Brothers while Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin both got full ones. While these interludes are completely out of place and break up the “flow” of the film, they’re at least somewhat competent. One can see what director Landis is doing. When he’s doing one of his big demolition sequences, it’s unclear. There’s never any realism, so one’s apparently just supposed to rejoice in the illusion of property damage.

The film opens with a lovely aerial sequence moving through the Chicago morning. For the first third of Brothers, Landis and his cinematographer Stephen M. Katz do wonderful work. The rest isn’t bad so much as pointless–the movie gets so stupid there’s nothing good to shoot.

The problem’s the script. Landis and Dan Aykroyd write terrible expository conversations, which Aykroyd and John Belushi can barely deliver without laughing (it’s good someone had a nice time, I suppose). But their costars? Charles and Franklin’s cameos are painful as neither can act. Of course, Landis can’t even direct Carrie Fisher into a good performance so it’s hard to blame any of the actors.

There are a handful of good performances–Calloway’s okay, Charlies Napier and Steven Williams both do well, as do Henry Gibson and John Candy.

Kathleen Freeman is awful.

As for the band… Alan Rubin is good. Murphy Dunne is awful. The rest fail to make an impression.

Brothers is tedious, pointless and inane.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by John Landis; written by Dan Aykroyd and Landis; director of photography, Stephen M. Katz; edited by George Fosley Jr.; production designer, John J. Lloyd; produced by Robert K. Weiss; released by Universal Pictures.

Starring John Belushi (‘Joliet’ Jake Blues), Dan Aykroyd (Elwood Blues), James Brown (Reverend Cleophus James), Cab Calloway (Curtis), Ray Charles (Ray), Aretha Franklin (Mrs. Murphy), Steve Cropper (Steve ‘The Colonel’ Cropper), Donald Dunn (Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn), Murphy Dunne (Murphy ‘Murph’ Dunne), Willie Hall (Willie ‘Too Big’ Hall), Tom Malone (Tom ‘Bones’ Malone), Lou Marini (‘Blue Lou’ Marini), Matt Murphy (Matt ‘Guitar’ Murphy), Alan Rubin (Alan ‘Mr. Fabulous’ Rubin), Carrie Fisher (Mystery Woman), Henry Gibson (Head Nazi), John Candy (Burton Mercer), Kathleen Freeman (Sister Mary Stigmata), Steve Lawrence (Maury Sline), Twiggy (Chic Lady), Frank Oz (Corrections Officer), Jeff Morris (Bob), Charles Napier (Tucker McElroy), Steven Williams (Trooper Mount) and Armand Cerami (Trooper Daniel).


RELATED


THIS FILM IS ALSO DISCUSSED ON BASP | THE BLUES BROTHERS (1980) / BLUES BROTHERS 2000 (1998).

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Blues Brothers 2000 (1998, John Landis)

I found something good to say about Blues Brothers 2000. The end credits are seven minutes. The only good thing about this movie is it ending any sooner.

2000 is truly one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen, particularly because it’s not even amusing in its badness. If it was amusingly bad, it would have something going for it. But Dan Aykroyd, who starts the movie with what seems to be a Russian accent before going into his terrible version of a Chicago one, takes it all very seriously. Watching John Goodman play second fiddle to Aykroyd is depressing, but probably not as depressing as watching Joe Morton inexplicably playing Cab Calloway’s character from the first one’s son. Because they needed a black costar this time?

As for Landis, his direction is atrocious. It’s clear from the opening whatever technical proficiency Landis had for the first one is gone for this one. If it were anyone but he and Aykroyd, one might think of 2000‘s scenes similar to the original as paltry knock-offs instead of informed homages. Ever single thing in the movie flops though. It’s incredible. The only good performance is probably Shann Johnson.

Landis can’t even direct a fun James Brown performance in this one. It’s constantly getting worse and even more boring. There aren’t any comedy gags in it.

While the cast is terrible overall (especially little Blues J. Evan Bonifant), Erykah Badu and Paul Shaffer give the worst performances.

2000‘s indescribably abysmal.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by John Landis; written by Dan Aykroyd and Landis; director of photography, David Herrington; edited by Dale Beldin; music by Paul Shaffer; production designer, Bill Brodie; produced by Aykroyd, Leslie Belzberg and Landis; released by Universal Pictures.

Starring Dan Aykroyd (Elwood Blues), John Goodman (Mighty Mack McTeer), Joe Morton (Cabel Chamberlain), J. Evan Bonifant (Buster), Steve Cropper (Steve ‘The Colonel’ Cropper), Donald Dunn (Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn), Murphy Dunne (Murph), Willie Hall (Willie Hall), Tom Malone (‘Bones’ Malone), Lou Marini (‘Blue Lou’ Marini), Matt Murphy (Matt ‘Guitar’ Murphy), Alan Rubin (‘Mr. Fabulous’), Aretha Franklin (Mrs. Murphy), James Brown (Cleophus James), B.B. King (Malvern Gasperon), Nia Peeples (Lt. Elizondo), Kathleen Freeman (Mother Mary Stigmata), Sam Moore (Reverend Morris), Wilson Pickett (Mr. Pickett), Frank Oz (Warden), Eddie Floyd (Ed), Jonny Lang (Custodian), Steve Lawrence (Maury Sline), Junior Wells (Junior Wells), Lonnie Brooks (Lonnie Brooks), Jeff Morris (Bob), Shann Johnson (Matara), Darrell Hammond (Robertson) and Erykah Badu (Queen Mousette).


RELATED


THIS FILM IS ALSO DISCUSSED ON BASP | THE BLUES BROTHERS (1980) / BLUES BROTHERS 2000 (1998).