After building up the duo's popularity through popular recordings and several performances on Saturday Night Live, John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd--as "legendary" Chicago blues brothers Jake and Elwood Blues--took their act to the big screen in this action-packed hit from 1980. As Jake and Elwood struggle to reunite their old band and save the Chicago orphanage where they were raised, they wreak enough good-natured havoc to attract the entire Cook County police force. The result is a big-budget stunt-fest on a scale rarely attempted before or since, including extended car chases that result in the wanton destruction of shopping malls and more police cars than you can count. Along the way there's plenty of music to punctuate the action, including performances by Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Cab Calloway, and James Brown that are guaranteed to knock you out. As played with deadpan wit by Belushi and Aykroyd, the Blues Brothers are "on a mission from God," and that gives them a kind of reckless glee that keeps the movie from losing its comedic appeal. Otherwise this might have been just a bloated marathon of mayhem that quickly wears out its welcome (which is how some critics described this film and its 1998 sequel). Keep an eye out for Steven Spielberg as the city clerk who stamps some crucial paperwork near the end of the film. --Jeff Shannon
Stars: Takeshi Kitano, Omar Epps, Claude Maki, Masaya Katô
Production: Sony Pictures Classics
1 win & 1 nomination.
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