Tag Archives: Dan Aykroyd

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).


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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).


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

Loose Cannons (1990, Bob Clark)

There’s something profoundly wrong with Loose Cannons. Actually, it’s hard to find anything about the film right.

I’ll just start rattling off.

Stan Cole’s editing is terrible. I love how he cuts to medium shots and the actors’ expressions have completely changed. I guess he gets the basic positioning right. Some of the fault for that incompetency problem falls of director Clark, who isn’t getting enough coverage.

Getting the Clark issue out of the way… Loose Cannons isn’t poorly directed. Oh, the action stuff is weak, but it’s generally okay. Clark doesn’t need Panavision but he manages it pretty well. It’s everything else.

The film is a perfect example of why a score is important. Paul Zaza’s score is more like incidental music for a commercial. There’s no flow to it. It contributes an incredibly disjointing experience.

Of course, the film appears to be heavily edited. David Alan Grier shows up for a scene, seems important, then disappears. So do Dick O’Neill and Leon Rippy. Nancy Travis, with fifth billing (and basically the only female character), is barely present. Fourth billed Ronny Cox is in it even less.

Cox is bad—it’s Clark and the script’s fault—but Travis has a moment or two.

Gene Hackman’s not good, but he manages not to look embarrassed, which is amazing. Dan Aykroyd tries hard and fails. He’s not able to do the straight acting or the goofy stuff, probably because he’s not right for the role at all.

It’s an atrocious film.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Bob Clark; screenplay by Richard Christian Matheson, Richard Matheson and Clark; director of photography, Reginald H. Morris; edited by Stan Cole; music by Paul Zaza; production designer, Harry Pottle; produced by Aaron Spelling and Alan Greisman; released by Tri-Star Pictures.

Starring Dan Aykroyd (Ellis Fielding), Gene Hackman (MacArthur Stern), Dom DeLuise (Harry Gutterman), Ronny Cox (Smiley), Nancy Travis (Riva), Robert Prosky (Von Metz), Paul Koslo (Grimmer), Dick O’Neill (Captain), Jan Tríska (Steckler), Leon Rippy (Weskit), David Alan Grier (Drummond) and S. Epatha Merkerson (Rachel).


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Into the Night (1985, John Landis)

Into the Night is so strong, even Landis’s bad directorial impulses can’t hurt it. One impulse, casting a bunch of directors (including himself) in roles, only fails in the case of Paul Mazursky. Mazursky has a reasonably sized supporting role and he gives a terrible performance.

The other bad impulse is casting as well. Dan Aykroyd shows up in a small role as Jeff Goldblum’s friend. Aykroyd plays it absurdist, like an “SNL” sketch; it would work if the movie were absurdist, but it’s really not. In fact, it’s straightforward, if stylized.

The only other thing wrong with the film is Ira Newborn’s awful score. No idea if he’s a Landis regular.

Besides Ron Koslow’s deceptively brilliant script, the two lead performances are outstanding. Goldblum’s regular guy insomniac is fantastic. He’s so good, it’s hard to believe Michelle Pfeiffer is even better as the sort of mystery woman who takes over his life. Koslow never gives pay-off scenes showing how Goldblum’s life has changed because of the encounter because there’s just no time for it. A pay-off scene would break the realism of the timeline Koslow and Landis create. Into the Night’s not real time and doesn’t attempt it.

Pfeiffer has moments of startling depth and captivates. Since he’s floundering without a specific ailment, Goldblum doesn’t get those opportunities.

Bruce McGill, David Bowie, Irene Papas and Clu Gulager are outstanding in supporting roles.

Landis’s direction is so strong I can’t believe he directed it.

Into the Night’s wonderful.

4/4★★★★

CREDITS

Directed by John Landis; written by Ron Koslow; director of photography, Robert Paynter; edited by Malcolm Campbell; music by Ira Newborn; production designer, John J. Lloyd; produced by George Fosley Jr. and Koslow; released by Universal Pictures.

Starring Jeff Goldblum (Ed Okin), Michelle Pfeiffer (Diana), Dan Aykroyd (Herb), Bruce McGill (Charlie), David Bowie (Colin Morris), Richard Farnsworth (Jack Caper), Vera Miles (Joan Caper), Irene Papas (Shaheen Parvici), Kathryn Harrold (Christie), Stacey Pickren (Ellen Okin) and Clu Gulager (Federal Agent).


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