Welcome back to 1 out of 5 – Would Recommend, where we can find something to like about darn near anything. To that end, we’re talking about the awesome musical experience (and awful film) hailing from nineteen-hundred and ninety-eight, Blues Brothers 2000.
What’s The Plot?
18 years after the events of The Blues Brothers, Elwood J. Blues is released from prison and finds he has no brother, no band, and no prospects. However, with a little trust in the Lord, he finds himself some new brothers, gets the band back together again, and finds a purpose in life.
Who Made This Beautiful Garbage?
The same people who made the original, less the late John Belushi. Dan Aykroyd wrote it, John Landis, Robert K. Weiss (to quote the movie, “Who the hell is Robert K. Weiss?”) produced it, etc. The problem is just that –for whatever reason, be it studio interference, the lack of John Belushi, or Dan Aykroyd’s ever increasing but still lovable “crazy uncle” nature – the magic just wasn’t there anymore.
Five Reasons to See It
- 2/3 of the replacements for Jake Blues are pretty damned good. John Goodman’s “Mighty” Mack Blues (Warning: Musical Number in a strip club) had been a part of the act for a few years before the movie while Joe Morton’s Cab Blues was conceived of solely for the film, but both are fantastic singers and great additions to the movie.
- In a perverse way, this movie is fun to watch just to say how much of the first movie it copies without understanding why the bit worked. For example, this movie broke the original’s record for “Most Cars Smashed By A Movie”…by contriving a silly situation in which they could do so in one scene.
- The original Blues Brothers movie had five classic blues, R&B, or soul musicians turn up for musical appearances. BB2K has Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Junior Wells, Wilson Pickett, Eddie Floyd, Johnny Lang, Sam Moore (who had a hit with “Soul Man” about 11 years before the Blues Brothers did), Erykah Badu, Blues Traveler, B.B. King, Koko Taylor, Eric Clapton, Isaac Hayes, Billy Preston, Clarence Clemons, Steve Winwood, Travis Tritt, Jimmy Vaughn, Bo Diddley…and that’s far from the complete list. Most of them show up as one Super Band, but even so, that’s a lot of legendary talent.
- Buster Blues is actually a good dancer, which is great because the middle aged men can’t bring like they did 20 years before.
- “Turn your backs now and you snuff out the fragile candles of Blues, R&B and Soul, and when those flames flicker and expire, the light of the world is extinguished because the music which has moved mankind through seven decades leading to the millennium will whither and die on the vine of abandonment and neglect.”
This movie is incredibly strange. For the most part, it feels like an attempt at a family friendly Blues Brothers movie – Elwood gains a plucky kid sidekick, the Bluesmobile can be driven both by remote and underwater, a friendly magic user turns the bad guys into mice, and everything’s generally “wackier” than the original. On the other hand, a solid chunk of the first act takes place in a strip club, the Russian mob is actively trying to murder the Blues Brothers, and their underwater sojurn ends with Elwood & Mack running afoul of conspiracy spouting, confederate flag waving, heavily armed anti-government militiamen. It’s incredibly uneven and not very good…but it seems like Dan Aykroyd knew that and made up for it by cramming every note of music he could into the movie. The performances keep coming almost until the final credits role, and they make the movie worth a look.
NEXT WEEK: We’re reminded that even our heroes have flaws as we watch 2008’s Meet Dave, the one and only major screenwriting credit of RiffTrax’s Bill Corbett.