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Saturday, October 21, 2017

Blues Brothers 2000: Movie Review

"The Blues Brothers" is one of those movies that I wish to God I had written. When I first saw it in a theatre during it's original theatrical run I laughed so hard I nearly gave myself a hernia. And the concluding car chase is a classic. In fact, most of what happens in that movie is a classic.

I only wish that BLUES BROTHERS 2000 had been a worthy sequel to that movie. There's a whole lot in this movie I like but there's a whole lot that's wrong with it as well and the major thing is that there's no John Belushi. And The Blues Brothers without John Belushi is like' well; it's like Krazy Kat without Ignazt Mouse. It's like Mr. Peabody without Sherman. It's like' well; you get the point by now. BLUES BROTHERS 2000 would have been a worthy movie on it's own if it didn't have the shadow of John Belushi hanging over it. It's a movie with great music and great musical numbers but while I was watching it my mind couldn't help thinking how much better it could have been if John Belushi had been in the movie.

Elwood Blues (Dan Aykroyd) is released from prison and he naturally waits outside for his brother Joliet Jake to pick him up the Bluesmobile. It fact, he waits two days and nights before the warden, (Frank Oz) finds out that nobody has told him that Jake is dead. I admire the way they handle the scene where the warden breaks the news to Elwood. It's done in a really touching way and we never hear what the warden says but the body language says it all. It'™s a really nice way to acknowledge John Belushi's contribution to The Blues Brothers and it's done with sensitivity. But a girl who works in a strip club where the drummer of their old band now owns picks up Elwood. Elwood hooks up with him and is given a job there where he meets the wonderfully named Mighty Mack McTeer (John Goodman). Mighty Mack proves that he can sing in a show stopping number ("I'm Lookin' For A Fox") and Elwood envisions putting the band back together.

After a bit of business where Elwood pisses off The Russian Mafia and they burn down the strip club, he sets off to reunite the band, accompanied by Mighty Mack and Buster, an orphan he has been assigned to mentor by Sister Mary Stigmata (Kathleen Freeman). The orphan quickly declares himself a Blues Brother and decides to live in the trunk of the new Bluesmobile and wears the black suit, hat and glasses required, as does Mighty Mack. Elwood travels around the country, reuniting the old Blues Brothers Band and picking up yet another new Blues Brothers (Joe Morton) who plays Cab Chamberlain, the illegitimate son of the character Cab Calloway played in the previous film. Elwood's rational is that since Cab Calloway's character was like a father to him and Jake that makes Cab their stepbrother. The problem is that Cab Chamberlain is a high-ranking Chicago police officer. One of the best scenes in the movie is when Elwood goes to ask Cab to join the band and Cab rattles off the $24 million dollars of property damage and numerous crimes The Blues Brothers committed when they performed their last concert.

Eventually Elwood reunites the band and Cab evens joins them in a scene that is a direct steal from the one in "The Blues Brothers" where they end up at a tent revival of the Reverend Cleophus James (James Brown) and Reverend Moore (Sam Moore) and Cab gets that The Blues Brothers are "On A Mission From God" and is transformed into a Blues Brother. They then go onto to Louisiana where they have to compete in an All-Star Battle Of The Bands. Now, The Blues Brothers are a kick ass band on their own, but let's face it, when they get to Ereykah Badu's voodoo temple located deep in the backwater swamps of Louisiana, they're definitely outclassed by the band they meet which is comprised of -- and hold your breath -- B.B. King, Gary U.S. Bonds, Eric Clapton, Clarence Clemons, Bo Diddly, Isaac Hayes, Dr. John, Billy Preston, Lou Rawls, KoKo Taylor, Travis Tritt, Grover Washington Jr. and Steve Winwood.

However, it all works out in the end and the movie ends in a satisfying manner with everybody having a good time and even though The Russian Mafia, The Catholic Church and The Detroit Police Department end up chasing the new team of The Blues Brothers comprised of Elwood, Buster, Mack and Cab, it's all good.

I didn't spend too much time on the plot of BLUES BROTHERS 2000 because there really isn't a plot. I get the feeling that John Landis and Dan Aykroyd did the movie because they were contracted to do a sequel and yeah, maybe they just wanted to do one. And I can see why. The movie isn't one that should be seen for a plot or a story. But we do get some really terrific musical numbers that easily match and in my opinion, surpass the ones of the first movie.

You can skip Aretha Franklin doing yet another version of "Respect" that was done better in the first movie but some of the other numbers are outstanding. Blues Traveler is in this movie and they do a terrific song. The version of "634-5789" done by The Blues Brothers, Wilson Pickett and Johnny Lang is an absolute showstopper. In fact, every musical number in BLUES BROTHERS 2000 is a showstopper. That's how good a musical it is. John Landis knows how to direct a musical and he shows it here. BLUES BROTHERS 2000 is worth seeing just for the musical numbers as they all make you wanna get up and dance. Especially the last twenty minutes of the movie which is nothing but wall-to-wall music. And whatever you do, do not turn off the movie after the closing credits. Why? Because you've got another seven or eight minutes of James Brown doing his classic "Please, Please, Don't Go" with John Goodman and Dan Ackroyd backing him up. I grew up seeing The "Please, Please Don't Go," number. This is the one where somebody will put a cape over James Brown and lead him off the stage. He would go the end of the end of the stage, scream, throw the cape off and go back into the number. In this movie, John Goodman does cape duty and he does it so well that you just know he used to watch the routine just as I did.

So should you see BLUES BROTHERS 2000? Watch it not for the story but for the extraordinary musical performances. As I've said earlier, John Landis knows how to direct musical sequences. And I love all of 'em in this movie. The story is minor. The music is major. I don'™t say this about many movies, but watch BLUES BROTHERS 2000 just for the music and the music performances. Everybody is obviously having a helluva time making this movie and they can all sing.

For more about John Belushi > An interview with Judy Belushi-Pisano



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DLFerguson is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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3 comments on Blues Brothers 2000: Movie Review

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By D. E. Carson on June 24, 2007 at 01:57 pm
Where to begin? John Landis and Dan Aykroyd were not under contract for a sequel. Landis himself says the point to the movie was a "catch up with old friends and see what they are doing now." If you go back and watch the original Blues Brothers, there was no plot to that movie either. Both movies were comedies of errors. The old adage "S**t happens" was born in The Blues Brothers and revisited in Blues Brothers 2000. Cab Chamberlain was NOT a high ranking official with the Chicago police, he worked for the Illinois State Police. And wherever did you get the idea that the Detroit police were involved? Maybe I need to see this movie again because they headed SOUTH to Louisiana and Detroit is NORTH of Chicago. We do agree that the music is good. Even B.B. King's role as Mr. Gasparone selling Elwood the used police car is classic. The music does make the movie flow better, including the obligatory inclusion of the Blues Brothers band playing country music in the old Frankie Laine classic (Ghost)Riders in the Sky. The mark of a good band is that it can play any genre and play it well. As a side note, I've seen Matt "Guitar" Murphy live and have his autograph on the album cover of "Briefcase Full of Blues". He is a talented guitar player in his own right and worthy to stand on the same stage as Eric Clapton and B.B. King. And all of this leaves me with one final question: why did you choose to write a review of a movie that is 10 years old???
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By DLFerguson on June 24, 2007 at 09:09 pm
I write reviews of movies that are even older than that, my brother. I didn't know there was an expiration date on movies. If you'll check the date on my review of RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER you'll see it it posted only a day or two after the the movie opened. I try to have a mix of current movies and movies that are my favorites. Thanks for your thoughts and you may want to check out http://betterinthedark.podomatic.com/ if you want to hear me spout off about movies. and if that isn't enough for you then go here: http://www.lulu.com/content/260678 for a copy of DERRICK FERGUSON'S MOVIE REVIEW NOTEBOOK I appreciate your comments. Unlike a lot of people I don't believe there's such a thing as a bad review. I honestly like hearing the opinions of those who read my reviews.
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By D. E. Carson on June 24, 2007 at 10:50 pm
Hey, you made me laugh with your response. I did note your review of Silver Surfer which prompted the "Why" question in the first place. Not sure if there is an expiry date, but generally, people don't review old movies. But, hey, if it trips your trigger then go for it! I did enjoy your review of BB2k but enjoyed the movie more. In fact, it helped me drive 140 miles after it was over. I was so jazzed by the movie, I made the two-hour drive back home from where I was when I saw it at 1:00 in the morning. Keep up the good work!
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