The Blues Brothers (1980) – John Landis

Director John Landis teams up with John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd in a road movie with tunes, laughs, and style. This was the movie, that I discovered in the late 80s, that introduced me to soul music, and I loved it.

Featuring a who’s who of musical legends like Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and Cab Calloway the film is packed with great music and dance numbers, as the two blues brothers, Jake (Belushi) and Elwood (Aykroyd) find themselves in a mission from god – to raise five thousand dollars to help save the Catholic school they were taught and raised in.

Their first mission, cross the country to get the band back together, and then, find the perfect venue to raise the cash. Unfortunately, they are pursued by a country and western band (led by Charles Napier), a cadre of cops (including Steven Williams) and a kooky cast of characters including Carrie Fisher, John Candy, and even Frank Oz and Steven Spielberg makes an appearance.

Landis keeps the story moving, as gags, one-liners, and tunes fill the movies two plus hours runtime. It’s great to see Belushi and Aykroyd’s SNL characters get the big screen treatment, and its done right – and did I mention the music?

Watching the pair cut it up on stage is even more fun than the events they had to go through to get there, and those are a lot of fun. From the police pursuit through a shopping mall to explosive encounters with Carrie Fisher’s Mystery Woman.

Watching them outwit their pursuers all to save a school that neither of them really enjoyed is just good fun. The musical numbers are all extravagantly staged, and are a perfect reflection of the music that showcases them.

And Belushi and Aykroyd do their own singing and performing (after I saw the film I even bought some of their albums! – I would crank them and just enjoy, bop around and sing along).

It could be argued that the film is a little long, but everyone in it is just so much fun to watch, and seems to be having a great time. There’s a lot of starpower in this film, and all of them seem to get their moments to shine.

As the film draws to its conclusion, as happens every time, I crank the soundtrack and just revel in the horns, the vocals, and the sheer vibrancy of the music that this film introduced me to.

I don’t think I check in on this film as often as I should, but damn if I don’t love it every time I do. Wonderfully quotable, and great songs to sing along with… what more do you want from a couple of comedy legends like Landis, Belushi and Aykroyd?

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