Blues Brothers [1980]

It's hard to ignore the sad and conspicuous absence of the late John Belushi, but this long-delayed sequel to 1980's The Blues Brothers still has Dan Aykroyd--as Chicago bad boy and blues rocker Elwood Blues--to keep the music alive. Once again, Elwood's trying to reunite the original Blues Brothers Band, and this time he's got a strip-joint bartender (John Goodman) and a 10-year-old orphan named Buster (J. Evan Bonifant) joining him at center stage. Believing that Elwood has kidnapped the kid, the cops are hot on his trail as the reunited band hits the road for the Battle of the Bands in Louisiana and the All-Star Blues Jam that ends the movie in a rockin' blaze of glory. It's a shameless clone of the first film, and nobody--especially not Aykroyd or director John Landis--seems to care that the story's not nearly as fun as the music that's used to stretch it out. Of course there's a seemingly endless parade of stunts, including a nonstop pileup of police cars that's hilariously absurd, but what really matters here--indeed, the movie's only saving grace--is the great lineup of legendary blues musicians. Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Junior Wells, Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Jonny Lang, Eddie Floyd, and Blues Traveler are among the many special guests assembled for the film, and their stellar presence makes you wonder if the revived Blues Brothers shouldn't remain an obscure opening act. --Jeff Shannon

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