Review: For 'Blues Brothers 2000,' less is not mojo
February 13, 1998
Web posted at: 11:23 a.m. EST (1623 GMT)
From Reviewer Paul Tatara
(CNN) -- When the original "Blues Brothers" movie was
released in 1980, it was one of the most expensive films ever
made and the subject of a great deal of gossip about John
Belushi's on-set behavior. The movie ended up being a lot
less entertaining than the major event it was touted to be,
and that should have been that.
In the ensuing years, however, "The Blues Brothers" has
become one of those inexplicable cult video hits. Belushi
and Dan Aykroyd's performances are somnambulant, there's no
story momentum, and the project's unnecessary hugeness
finally squashes its imaginative dance sequences. But a lot
of people like it, probably for those very reasons.
Now we get "Blues Brothers 2000," and I have to give Aykroyd
and director John Landis credit. It'd be amazing enough for
them to convince a studio to let them make a sequel to the
original without John Belushi in it, but they've circumvented
this by filming a virtual remake of the first one and
adding John Goodman.
So much for the often-cited but seldom-displayed Aykroyd-
Belushi chemistry. The answer seems to be to just get a fat
comedian who's willing to pretend that he can sing the blues.
Goodman could act circles around Belushi (not that there's
any evidence of it here). But you can't act with a talent you
don't possess. So, just like the first time around, what
we've ended up with is somnambulant performances, no plot
momentum (or no plot at all), and two rich white guys
pretending to be soulful. Only on a smaller scale.
This is a crass little movie, one that expects the audience
to pony up for exactly the same thing they saw before, only
less. The number of deja vu experiences is alarming, and I
haven't even seen the first movie in eight or nine years. As
The Shangri-Las used to say, "Does this sound familiar?"
Doesn't deserve respect
At the beginning of the film, we see Elwood Blues being
released from Joliet Prison in Illinois. After being
informed of his brother Jake's death, he gets a ride from the
girlfriend of his band's drummer. This is fortunate because
Elwood wants to re-form the band! First though, he needs to
get his hands on a used cop car. That'll be the Blues
Mobile. Then he has to visit the vicious nun who raised him
and his brother.
Then he starts gathering the band together, all of whom have
other jobs and really don't want to get it going again. One
of them is married to Aretha Franklin, who's against his
taking to the road again and tells him so, in a sassy soul
song ("Respect" this time around).
The band finally regroups, but not before drawing the ire of
the police and a white supremacist group. There are lots of
musical interludes -- one of which has them pretending to be
a bluegrass band -- and chase scenes in which cars defy the
laws of gravity and tumble through the air at the slightest
Stick to the original
Are Aykroyd and Landis, who co-wrote the script, really this
devoid of new ideas, or are they just plain lazy?
I know sequels have to contain knowing gestures toward the
original film, but come on. Just go out and rent the first
one, if this is the kind of thing you're looking for.
Landis, to his credit, still knows how to shoot energetic,
amusing dance sequences, but commercially calculated moves
like inventing a Blues Child (played by J. Evan Bonifant) to
grab the interest of kids who may not even know who Ackroyd
is erases any goodwill the dances might generate.
I wasn't even expecting much and I feel robbed.
"Blues Brothers 2000" contains cartoonish violence and a
smattering of bad language. The band, consisting of such
soul legends as Duck Dunn, Matt Murphy and Steve Cropper, is
as good as they come. It's a shame, after all these years,
that they have to do something like this for anyone to
notice. PG-13. 105 minutes.