The orphanage where brothers Jake (John Belushi) and Elwood (Dan Aykroyd) grew up is going to be expropriated unless back taxes are paid, and our heroes are resolved to help. The nun in charge won’t accept any of their ill-gotten gains, however, and so they embark on a frenetic cross-county chase to reassemble their old band for a benefit gig. Cue many famous music cameos, and massive car chases.
As happened in the sixties, the eighties were plagued by a particular form of bloated,…lumbering comedy, saddled with enormous budgets, excessive running times, and a dearth of laughs. The men most responsible for this disease were John Landis and Ivan Reitman, and while there were some successful exceptions (Ghostbusters), The Blues Brothers is the perfect example of that bloat. Gags? What gags? Very laboured stuff indeed. If you’re a fan of the blues, then the endless musical cameos will be a treat, but the fact remains that this is a heck of a slog, whether you’re watching the theatrical release (133 minutes) or the extended version (148!!). On the other hand, it is also the work of actual filmmakers, unlike the torrent of SNL spin-offs that have assailed us in more recent years.
Good sound, but not spectacular: the fact that the film is 25 years old is fairly clear. There are some decent environmental effects, and everything sounds crystalline enough. Just don’t expect to be plunged into a lush world of sound. The sound is available in 5.1 only for the extended version (the other is in 2.0).
There is some grain visible (though again, the age of the film should be factored in). There is also some minor edge enhancement to deal with, and the colours are sometimes a bit on the muddy side (though the look of the film is deliberately gritty as well). In general, the picture looks fine, but won’t blow your mind.
Side A (which has the extended version) has an in-depth documentary, “The Stories Beyhind the Making of The Blues Brothers. The musical highlights have also been excerpted and can be viewed on their own. Side B has this same feature, along with further documentaries. These include a very brief and anodyne intro to the movie by Aykroyd, a piece on the 2005 music tour of the tribute band, “Transposing the Music” (which, as the title implies, focuses on the importance of the music in the film and the conception of the characters), and “Remembering John” (essentially a tribute by friends and family). Also here are some production notes and the theatrical trailer. The menu’s main screen, intro and transitions are animated and scored, and the some of the secondary screens are scored.
A solid package, but the film is just too dad-blamed bloated and long.
Special Features List
- Making-of Documentary
- Musical Highlights
- Extended and Theatrical Versions of the Film
- “Transpopsing the Music” Featurette
- “Going Rounds: A day on the Blues Brothers Tour”
- “Remembering John” Featurette
- Production Notes
- Theatrical Trailer