Blues Brothers 2000 (1998)

Though I'm still forming my final thoughts on this one, the sneak 
preview was sure fun, with Ushers in Black, a handful of homemade 
costumes (mine included), and a packed house a-rockin' to the rhy-
thms of an awfully good soundtrack.  (A pair of beer-soaked buds on 
our row also added to the atmosphere, offering hearty howls each 
time the Bluesmobile went airborne.)  Alas, the movie itself was a 
fair disappointment.  BLUES BROTHERS 2000 can't hold a cigarette 
lighter to the original, but that's not much of a surprise, I 
guess, given the spotty track records of both John Landis and Dan 
Aykroyd.  (I wonder, how many bombs have they lobbed since their  
collaboration on the first film?)  Technical problems abound, from 
pacing to timing to editing so sloppy that entire sequences don't 
make complete sense.  (Note to Landis, Aykroyd, et al:  please re-
cut for the video release.)  Then there's the matter of tone, 
which, in a move tantamount to blasphemy, has been considerably 
lightened.  (Getting used to less deadpan is almost as difficult as 
adjusting to Elwood having so many lines.  He can still parallel 
park like nobody's business, I'll tell you what.)

The paper-thin plot rehashes (or, if you prefer, pays homage to) 
all the high points of the first film:  a Blues Brother released 
from prison, a painful encounter with switch-wielding Sister Mary, 
an effort to reform the band, subsequent visits to each band-mem-
ber's workplace (wait'll you see what Steve Cropper and "Duck" Dunn 
are up to!), a musical number featuring Aretha Franklin as Matt 
"Guitar" Murphy's wife, more embarrassment for Alan "Mr. Fabulous" 
Rubin, a backwater gig requiring the band to play something other 
than the blues, a religious epiphany induced by the Reverend Cleo-
phus James, a ton of cameos, a bunch of wrecked cars, one or two 
other armed organizations also in pursuit, the "big gig" that re-
quires a subsequent hasty exit, and, of course, over the closing 
credits, everyone getting their turn at singing, playing, or taking 
a bow.  (Don't leave early, either!  Tacked on to the *very* end is 
a full-length musical outtake, featuring...)

As for the increasingly infectious production numbers, the quality 
of the music is all over the map.  Aretha's remake of "R-E-S-P-E-C-
T" is a perfunctory pleasure, while Eddie Floyd, Wilson Pickett, 
and young Jonny Lang dial up a dynamite "634-5789."  (In one of the 
movie's more colorful moments, the latter is performed in a ware-
house-sized phone-sex shop!)  Early efforts by Aykroyd ("Cheaper to 
Keep Her") and John Goodman ("Looking For a Fox") are so-so, but 
when the band breaks into "Riders in the Sky," at a Kentucky county 
fair, all hell literally breaks loose.  (The boys also get off a 
good calypso number, with Erykah Badu accompanying.)  The big (but 
hardly cathartically climatic) finish, with the Blues Brothers 
"battling" the Louisiana Gator Boys, is the real reason for the 
season.  Though the Brothers do a dandy rendition of "Turn on Your 
Love Light," it's the once-in-a-hard-lifetime ensemble jam on "How 
Blue Can You Get" that's the keeper.  B.B. King and Bo Diddley and 
Eric Clapton and Travis Tritt and Dr. John and close to two dozen 
other folks.  Please, please, please, Mr. Landis, tell us that 
there's additional footage of that concert.  (Rated "PG-13"/124 

Grade: C+
Copyright 1998 Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies in MOVIE HELL: February 9, 1998

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