The Blues Brothers (1980)

The Ultimate Comedy

To date, The Blues Brothers remains the only instance in which after watching a movie for the first time, I watched it again the very next day. Several viewings later I’ve come to the decision that The Blues Brothers is my favourite film comedy.

The Blues Brothers is some of the most fun you’ll ever have with a motion picture. Just one incredibly fun set piece after another whether a car chase, a musical number or comedic showcase. Choosing a favourite moment? Now that’s difficult. The portion of the film which has me in the most hysterical fit is the sequence at Bob’s Country Bunker. Having a blues band with two lead singers who are as urban as it gets at a redneck bar in which everyone thinks they’re the night’s country music act and everyone is oblivious to this pink elephant in the room has me laughing just thinking about it (not to mention quite a dig at country music), and what country song are they able to play to the crowd? Why the theme song to a TV show of all things. In regards to the film’s musical numbers, let’s just say I bought the two-disc movie soundtrack very soon after watching the film, which gave me a solid twelve months of continuous music listening pleasure.

The brothers Jake and Elwood epitomise coolness with their black suits, sunglasses and stoic nature. Yet despite the film’s protagonists being criminals, The Blues Brothers is a film of strong moral character. The film makes fun of the antiquated nature of Catholicism while still celebrating faith-based virtues which can transcend to the secular viewer. Jake and Elwood have to save the Catholic orphanage they grew up in but are forced to raise the money to do so by honest means and at the end of the day, they do get punished for their bad deeds. Also, I have to ask, do churches as fun as that portrayed in The Blues Brothers actually exist in real life?

What other movie which has more reverence for its location (the only other film which instantly pops into my mind is Rocky with Philadelphia). Right from the opening shots of the industrial landscape, the city of Chicago is gloriously captured. For the best moment in the movie which captures the grit and grime of the city of Chicago is the scene on Maxwell street with John Lee Hooker playing cut to shots of stalls selling music tapes and other artefacts; such a beautiful sequence

Then there’s the film’s final car chase. I haven’t seen every famous movie car chase but I would happily place a wager that there is no other car chase in the history of cinema better than this. I believe a truly great action sequence is one in which there’s a sense of danger that someone can get hurt or even killed. Here I’m not only fearing for the fictional characters but also the real-life cast and crew. The number of cars involved and carnage that ensues is unprecedented; Grand Theft Auto years before Grant Theft Auto existed. With so many action movies featuring gargantuan levels destruction which means nothing and has no impact, they should take note from The Blues Brothers on how to make action sequences in which you can actually feel the weight and heft of everything from the screech of every tire to the sirens of every police car whizzing past the screen.

The lack of logic in The Blues Brothers only adds to its enjoyment. For example, the very obvious plot hole in which The Good Ole Boys arrive hours late at the country bar with no explanation would likely downgrade most movies; here it just enhances the surreal world inhabited by the Blues Brothers. My favourite illogical moment is the Illinois Nazi’s demise on the unfinished freeway; it makes no sense in the most wonderful way. The 80’s was pretty much the decade for epic, large-scale comedies such as The Blues Brothers. Only then could a film like this even get made.