Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Blues Brothers (1980)

This review will have to suffice for everyone considering I’m on a mission from God to write it.  I had to pull out the staple line of the film immediately before I got into anything else.  The movie is so ridiculous at times I can never truly value it in its entirety.  I get the strange sense that without all the outrageous events that it could make the movie almost too conformed.  Either way I like some of the crazy scenes as well as feel some are too over the top.

How many tickets is that?
                What’s it about anyway?  Jake and Elwood find out their orphanage is going to be given away if a sum of $5,000 isn’t paid in taxes; of course it’s always “the man” at the top of it all.  They set out to “honestly” raise the money by bringing their band back together while running into some classic soul singers.  It’s quite an absurd but often hilarious sequence of almost random events.

                Elwood picks up his brother Jake from prison in a police car which serves as a comical irony.  This car by the way is nigh indestructible, oh they just don’t make them like they used to.  They get into their first car chase fairly early as Elwood has a suspended license and flees from the law.  They go crashing into a mall while the worst police drivers you’ve ever seen try to pursue.  It’s probably the best chase in the movie considering its surprise factor so early on.  Jake and Elwood remain very calm while pointing out hotspots inside the mall.

She's persistent but unneeded.
                After getting away, which they always do, they arrive at Elwood’s luxurious hotel for men.  I remember an old man yelling about cheese wiz and Elwood promptly throw him a can.  Complete randomness, however this moment is above all else for me.  The old man snatches that can of cheese wiz out of the air and slams it on the table then resumes whatever it is he was doing.  Absolutely hilarious for such simplicity I love it.  What is up with Carrie Fisher?  She has a rocket launcher and blows up everything except Jake and Elwood as they head inside the hotel.  They dust themselves off as if it is a normal everyday occurrence.  They’re oblivious to her throughout the movie as she shows up with a flamethrower later to blast their phone booth sky high upon hitting a flammable gas tank.  They notice about over $7 in quarters after that event.  It’s a ridiculous running gag that doesn’t work as much for me, shock events or humor try to make up for sketchy writing with crazy stuff like that.  If you ask me I’ll be honest, the movie wouldn’t miss a beat if all scenes involving this unstable woman were removed.

Hmm, fried chicken?
                They stagger from the ruins of the hotel and again in a calming demeanor go on their way.  They get the band back together in a somewhat comical way but it could have been better.  Murph is a pathetic hotel musician so it’s easy to get him back by using the “Jake went to prison for you guys” sell.  The matradee was a bit silly, the scene was decent but really just kick them out and tell them you’ve moved on.  The forced way they got him seemed tacky or not thought through enough.  They couldn’t even afford to eat there once let alone the three times a day they were insisting upon.  Call the police and be done with them.  Alas their old band mate had a soft spot and gave into their ridiculous ploy.  The cafĂ© guy, husband to Aretha Franklin, was better as you get to see her perform.  It’s funny as he says woman know your place.
Ray Charles livens up the film.
                I thought the Ray Charles scene was one of the best in the film.  When the kid was trying to steal the guitar and Ray shot off a few rounds was fantastic!  His performance was golden as well as the feeling of the moment.  He says he’ll sell them the piano for $2,000 and throw in the black keys for free, that’s hilarious and I wonder how many people catch that.  It’s truly a great way to remember Ray Charles.  Shake a tail feather was classic at its best, as far as a musical standpoint is concerned.

                Bob’s country barn is a funny idea as Jake has no idea what to do for a gig.  His lack of vision creates the band to perform blues to a bunch of cowboys.  It’s not exactly a perfect fit until they play the theme from Raw Hide.  Constant objects being thrown at the chicken wire surrounding the band is very rowdy of the country folk indeed.  They end up owing some $100 for beer to Bob and make an escape for it as the Good Old boys show up extremely late.  Everybody left the bar, how late do the Good Old Boys show up, 2am?  Tardiness that is not mentioned at all which is to be overlooked thanks to another car chase.  The Good Old Boys crash into a police car and that’s about it.

The Great Cab Calloway
                The Blues Brothers are set to play at a big venue in which Cab Calloway performs Minnie the Moocher as he is stalling for Jake and Elwood.  It’s the best scene in the movie and old Cab steals it right from the Blue Brothers.  Calloway performs very well and works the crowd amazingly.  I enjoyed it rather much myself.  The changing of their outfits and stage setup is classic.  Jake and Elwood show up late perform a couple songs and take off to avoid the police.  The world’s most incompetent law men are assigned to pursue them luckily for Jake and Elwood.  Could a policeman watch this movie in its entirety without shooting the screen?  Police are such a popular target in the movie biz I often wonder what they think.  I’d probably hate this movie for it if I was one, ha-ha!

My dream pizza delivery car.
                The finale gives some of the most extreme vehicle chases ever.  Have you heard of a video game called Burnout?  That’s what the ending is with all the car pile ups.  The army, police and even Nazis are after them.  The Nazi involvement is something that could be left out completely without missing a beat.  It’s an added element that really extends the movie longer than it should be.  The Nazi’s do fly off a bridge in their car after falling from as absurd height.  It’s part of that obvious goofy element that I consider too much.  It manages to be funny at times while others it’s just filler space regarding the Nazi’s.  The Blues Brothers manage to flip their car in wild fashion doing flips to avoid the Nazis at one point, that’s so nuts it’s actually funny.  It’s like a cartoon in live action.

See you in Ghostbusters 3!
                They reach their destination and barricade door after door in a very silly, semi-comical way.  As they get their receipt for paying the taxes they get handcuffed with some 100 lawmen aiming guns at them in the office.  Really?  I guess it may as well stay consistent in ridiculous scenes at this juncture.  They fittingly end while playing Jailhouse Rock in prison.  I can understand people absolutely loving this movie based on its humor, that late Belushi and it being a SNL skit originally.  The over the top parts of it I didn’t go for as much but it’s still watchable.  If you’re in a mood to not focus so much at what you’re watching this will do just fine.

                Rating: 8 of 10

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