After building up the duo's popularity through recordings and several performances on Saturday Night Live, John Belushi
and Dan Aykroyd--as "legendary" Chicago blues brothers Jake and Elwood Blues--took their act to the big screen in this action-packed hit from 1980. As Jake and Elwood struggle to reunite their old band and save the Chicago orphanage where they were raised, they wreak enough good-natured havoc to attract the entire Cook County police force. The result is a big-budget stunt-fest on a scale rarely attempted before or since, including extended car chases that result in the wanton destruction of shopping malls and more police cars than you can count. Along the way there's plenty of music to punctuate the action, including performances by Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Cab Calloway, and James Brown that are guaranteed to knock you out. As played with deadpan wit by Belushi and Aykroyd, the Blues Brothers are "on a mission from God," and that gives them a kind of reckless glee that keeps the movie from losing its comedic appeal. Otherwise this might have been just a bloated marathon of mayhem that quickly wears out its welcome (which is how some critics described this film and its 1998 sequel). Keep an eye out for Steven Spielberg as the city clerk who stamps some crucial paperwork near the end of the film.-- Jeff Shannon
In roles made famous by their famed Saturday Night Live
skit, Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi star as Ellwood and Jake Blues in this extremely entertaining and successful comedy. Upon Jake's release from prison, the brothers are reunited and visit the orphanage they grew up in--only to discover that it is in danger of being shut down by the county for failure to pay taxes. With a little help from James Brown as a revival preacher, the Blues Brothers are divinely inspired to raise the $5,000 that the orphanage needs to stay open. On their mission from God, they must reunite their old band and raise the money by playing various gigs around town. The wild adventures of the band include dodging evil neo-Nazis, playing in a rowdy redneck bar, and narrowly escaping the crazed Carrie Fisher as Jake's ex-fiancee, who is out to see him dead. Finally, the boys have to get to a gig at the Palace Hotel Ballroom and deliver the $5,000 to the county assessor's office--leading to one of the most wild and hysterical car-chase smashups in film history. John Landis has spiced this wonderful romp with fabulous rhythm-and-blues numbers from such greats as Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Cab Calloway, and Ray Charles.