Quick Hit: One relentless chase scene, with strong memorable characters and excellent musical performances.
There have been several movies to come out of Saturday Night Live. Some, like Molly Shannon’s Superstar and Night at the Roxbury, are funny, but ultimately forgettable. But others, like the Wayne’s World and The Blues Brothers will always live on because of the ultimately entertaining way the solid characters are performed. I’m not holding anything against Ms. Shannon’s Mary Catherine Gallagher, but are there better characters than Garth and Wayne or Jake and Elwood (ironically, these films and characters both pivot heavily around music)?
The Blues Brothers was the first of these films – a ground breaker if you will. Written and directed by John Landis (with a helping hand from Akroyd), the film is entirely full of music and dancing. Many people don’t realize that the Blues Brothers released an album that went platinum in the late seventies, which eventually spurned into the movie. The recognition for the musical style of the blues is what allowed Akroyd and Belushi to recruit such stellar talent for the bit roles – Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, and Cab Calloway all take the scenes and run with them at least once (my favorite being Calloway’s stellar Minnie the Moocher).
But it’s not just the music that helped the film be such a hit. There is obviously the comedic element, with both Belushi and Akroyd knocking it out of the park. There is such simple dialogue in the scenes, which is followed by incredibly outlandish action. Take for instance, the first scene where Jake and Elwood are riding in the car. Jake is knocking the new Dodge sedan and lamenting the loss of the Cadilliac that Elwood used to drive. After explaining the situation, Elwood jumps the car over a bascule bridge’s opening. Jake then drops his complaints. It’s hilarious and understated throughout the actual explanation, and completely unbelievable when it all takes place.
Some of the car chases, of which maybe fifty percent of the movie is, are incredibly thrilling. Shot from a variety of different angles, the camera often puts the audience’s eyes front and center. Remarkably, this film set a world record at the time of filming, wrecking 103 different cars on set (this record was later broken in The Blues Brothers 2000).
All in all, Jake and Elwood Blues will always be in my book as a rousing success to the power of the Saturday Night Live characters. I’m going to give The Blues Brothers a “B+”.
For more on this movie check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"