April 15th, 2011: The Blues Brothers

Cast and Crew: John Landis (Director); Twiggy, Frank Oz, Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Freeman, Jeff Morris, Steven Williams

What It’s About: Jake Blues (John Belushi) comes out of prison to discover that the orphanage he and his brother Elwood (Dan Aykroyd) grew up in will close unless they can come up with the back taxes.  The Blues Brothers attempt to get their band back together so they can play one enormous show and make the money.  None of this-getting their old band mates to trust them again and leave paying gigs, getting to the show, or getting to the tax office-will be easy, especially as they are pursued by cops, rednecks, Illinois Nazis, and Jake’s psychotic ex-fiance (Carrie Fisher).

Why Watch it Today?: If you owe any tax money, may paying the bill come more easily than it does for the Blues Brothers.  The first, and still the most successful, attempt to transition Saturday Night Live characters to film, The Blues Brothers features Belushi and Aykroyd at the height of their powers.  The film is jammed with cameos (and wonderful musical numbers) from famous musicians (James Brown, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, and John Lee Hooker, as well as the members of the Saturday Night Live Band) and an able supporting cast of comic actors (John Candy, Henry Gibson, Paul Reubens, Charles Napier).  The film perhaps reaches too far with its car-crashes-as-slapstick chase scene that drives the ending of the film and its long run time (not many comedies run over two hours), but by the time the Jake and Elwood pursuers include S.W.A.T. teams and the Army you will either be laughing your ass off or you will have long given up.

Where to Get ItPublic libraries, Netflix (Rental only), iTunes, or Amazon

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