Good soundtrack with some good laughs
The M.O.W. - wrote on 08/02/08
"'Joliet' Jake Blues" (the late John Belushi) has been released from prison after a five-year sentence. His brother, "Elwood" (Dan Ackroyd) picks him up in a former black-and-white (police car) which he had bought at auction after trading the Bluesmobile for a microphone.
The first thing they do, against "Jake's" wishes, is to visit "Sister Mary Stigmata" (the late Kathleen Freeman), whom they have nicknamed "The Penguin" because of her nun outfit. She informs them that the orphanage she runs, and that they were raised in, is going to be shut down by the state of Illinois unless they raise $5,000 -- and their time limit is almost up.
After offering to get the money illegally, they go to a church suggested by "Curtis" (the late music legend "The Hi De Ho Man" Cab Calloway) to hear the "Reverend Cleophus James" (the late "Godfather of Soul" James Brown). During the sermon, "Jake" gets an inspiration as the Reverend is repeating "Can you see the light?" while a strange, blueish light envelops "Jake." "Jake" then informs his brother that they have to put The Blues Brothers Band back together to raise the money "The Penguin" needs to keep the orphanage open.
So, the "Blues Brothers" goes around the area to find their former bandmates and try to convince them that their "Mission from God" is not a scam while making some enemies along the way -- including a jilted lover of "Jake's" (Carrie Fisher) who will do anything to kill him.
The first thing you have to ask is "is this a musical or is it a comedy?" Some of the audience may see it as a comedy with lots of great music. While others will see it as a musical with some comedy, and a little action thrown in.
The soundtrack is absolutely wonderful in this movie. You even get to see and hear some R&B legends like Ray Charles, Brown and "The Queen of Soul" Aretha Franklin. What makes the on-screen performances interesting is that not all are playback with the performer lip-syncing. Some, like Brown's and Johnny Lee Hooker's performances, were recorded live as they happened. If you ask me, this helps those scenes a bit.
There is a lot of funny stuff in this movie. Many of the jokes are physical bits, while others are some funny lines. Many of the R&B stars take part in the comedy. Some of the most memorable are either said or done by these people who are not known for their acting.
Some things that are shot well, and are some of the most memorable moments in this film, are the many car chases. The most memorable that takes place next to the final one at the climax of the movie takes place in a refurbished mall that was found by the person in charge of finding the locations to film at. Not only will your adrenaline surge during this, and other car chases, but you will laugh at much of the situations and lines that happen doing them.
There are some real good performances in this movie. Out of the entire cast, I would have to say that Ackroyd and Belushi have the best on-screen chemistry. Some cast members, although the performances may have been intentional, seem to be uncomfortable acting. The R&B stars who have lines seem really comfortable performing as an actor. Two of the music legends who are near perfect as actors are Calloway and Franklin. One of the most memorable is Charles, who performs as if he is not blind.
Many of the supporting characters really don't have a lot of development. Some are there to help introduce some of the Blues Brothers Band members, while others are there to advance the story a bit or perform a song. But, there is usually something going on, so you probably will just ignore the character development. Personally, I would have liked to see more storyline for some of the ones chasing the "Blues Brothers" on their trip.
A note to parents. There is some strong language in this movie. If you have young kids who you think would like the music in this movie, I would suggest that you have them watch it when it's aired on a television network which edits movies for time allowed and especially content.
Out of all the movies I've reviewed lately, this is one I certainly would say you should put on your Top 10 "Must See" List.