The Blues Brothers (1980)

blues brothers poster 1980 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Good performances and music

Story drags

Movie Info

Movie Name: The Blues Brothers

Studio: Universal

Genre(s): Comedy/Musical/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s): June 20, 1980

MPAA Rating: R

blues brothers aretha franklin

You better think

“Joliet” Jake Blues (John Belushi) and his brother Elwood (Dan Aykroyd) are on a mission from God.  With Jake just released from prison, the Blues Brothers learn that their childhood orphanage is shutting down unless it can pay the property tax bill, and it is up to Jake and Elwood to earn the money legally by the order of Sister Mary Stigmata (Kathleen Freeman).  This means the Blues Brothers have to get the band back together, land a money making performance, and get the money back to the claims office before the orphans are evicted…but Jake and Elwood aren’t making any friends along the way.

Directed by John Landis, The Blues Brothers is a musical comedy.  Spinning off of the sketch from Saturday Night Live, the movie went over-budget and suffered problems due to Belushi’s drug and alcohol use.  The movie was relatively well received and became a box office smash which led to a cult following.  It was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2020.

The Blues Brothers is a very quotable movie.  Like a lot of those comedies in the 1980s, kids (and teens) latched on to them.  I didn’t see the movie for years, but I knew a ton of the lines when I did.  By working into the social lexicon, The Blues Brothers succeeds…but the movie drags.

blues brothers john belushi dan aykroyd ray charles

Nobody gets out of here without singing the blues…

I like the film, but I could honestly cut about thirty (or more) minutes from the movie and enjoy it more.  Normally in situations like this, cutting the songs would speed up the pace of the film, but here, the songs are a nice treat to sometimes dullness in between…jokes often go on too long.  It feels like a number of the plotlines in The Blues Brothers never really pay out and most (unsatisfyingly) pay out simply in a car crashes.  It feels like between the police, the Neo-Nazis, Carrie Fisher, and the country band that the movie should have had more of a big ending (but it is a pretty impressive and expensive car chase).

The cast is great.  John Belushi steals his scenes and Dan Aykroyd pretty much plays second banana to him.  The movie soars with all the cameos which include a great performances by Cab Calloway, James Brown, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, and a brief son by John Lee Hooker.  The movie also has a great supporting cast in Carrie Fisher, Henry Gibson, John Candy, Twiggy, Frank Oz, Charles Napier, Paul Reubens, and Chaka Khan among others.

blues brothers car chase police


The movie does a nice job going between performances and action scenes.  The musical “shows” in The Blues Brothers are probably just as difficult to put on as some of the car chases, but the movie makes both look easy.  Of course there is some intentional shenanigans in the car chase involving the final “jump”, but the movie dips in surreal nature on occasion…I wish it did it more though to make this part more in tune with the film (I suppose God stepped in there).

The Blues Brothers is an entertaining movie with pacing problems.  That doesn’t mean I can’t recommend it, but it is the type of movie that you might be ok jumping around in once you’ve seen it through…because it is a movie that benefits from seeing it multiple times.  The Blues Brothers have a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, and wear sunglasses in the dark…Hit it!  The Blues Brothers was followed by the much maligned sequel The Blues Brothers 2000 in 1998.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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