[Screen It]


(1998) (Dan Aykroyd, John Goodman) (PG-13)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Mild None *Moderate Minor Moderate
Mild None None Minor Moderate
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
Moderate Mild Minor Mild Moderate

Comedy: A former convict hopes to reassemble his rhythm and blues band eighteen years after they last played together.
Eighteen years after being sent to prison for the mayhem caused in the original "Blues Brothers" film, Elwood Blues (DAN AYKROYD) finds himself a free man. Learning that his former partner Jake (the late John Belushi) is now dead, he visits Mother Mary Stigmata (KATHLEEN FREEMAN). She informs him that his mentor "father," Curtis (the late Cab Calloway), has also died, but tells him about Curtis' son from an adulterous affair.

Elwood goes to find his "half brother," but must take along Buster (J. EVAN BONIFANT), a ten-year-old orphan who Stigmata wants Elwood to mentor. Curtis' son turns out to be Cabel Chamberlain (JOE MORTON), a police commander who wants nothing to do with Elwood's plans on putting his rhythm and blues band back together. Undeterred, Elwood begins reassembling the various members and picks up a new lead singer, Mighty Mack McTeer (JOHN GOODMAN).

As they head toward Queen Mousette's (ERYKAH BADU) Battle of the Bands in Louisiana, Elwood and his band must contend with Chamberlain and his assistant, Lt. Elizondo (NIA PEEPLES), who are after them for breaking the law, Stigmata who believes they've kidnaped Buster, and an assortment of others including the Russian mafia and some right-wing militia members, all of whom want to catch or kill Elwood and the Blues Brothers band.

That's highly questionable. None of the performers are box office draws of recent, and only the oldest of teenagers were even alive when the original was released. While some kids may be familiar with the movie after seeing it on TV or videotape, it's uncertain how much interest they'll have in it.
For exotic dancing and some language.
  • DAN AYKROYD plays a released convict who tries to put his former band back together again. Although none of the behavior is meant to be taken seriously, he does elude the police several times.
  • JOHN GOODMAN plays a bartender in a strip joint who joins the band as the lead singer.


    OUR TAKE: 2 out of 10
    Back in 1980, two stars from the hit late-night TV show, "Saturday Night Live" adapted their popular skit, featuring the characters Jake and Elwood Blues, into a full-length movie. "The Blues Brothers," starring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, came out at the height of their popularity, made a decent amount of money (for the time), and helped turn the TV actors into movie stars. Of course any time a movie is successful, there usually has to be the inevitable sequel that hopes to capitalize on the original's good fortunes before it fades from the public's memory.

    Someone obviously forgot that last part until now, eighteen years later, as the sequel finally arrives in the form of "Blues Brothers 2000." When I first heard of this project, I had serious doubts about the reasons for making the film, as well as its financial prospects. First off, it had been nearly two decades since the original, and the film's initial audience was now entering early middle age, while most of today's main moviegoers weren't even in elementary school when the brothers first hit the big screen. Then there was the fact that Belushi, who made up half the duo, was dead, and the possibility of adding a new partner and recapturing the fun of the original seemed to be a next to impossible task. Finally (and as is often asked about sequels), why taint the memories of the original? Sure, the first one was stupid, but it was also wildy fun.

    It turns out my gut feeling was correct. Not only is the film a nearly unimaginative retreading of the original, but its box office potential is seriously questionable. When the original came out, the stars were hot from "SNL," and they had a hit album, "Briefcase Full of Blues." Now, so many years later, people know of the original but it's not high on anyone's wish list of films to see. Nor are any of the actors involved with this project box office draws anymore. Aykroyd hasn't had a hit in more than a decade, and while Goodman was in a popular TV show ("Roseanne"), he hasn't had much success at the big screen box office.

    All of that would be forgivable had the sequel been good, or at least decent, but sadly it's not. So many scenes and other elements have been borrowed (ie. stolen, ripped from, copied, etc...) from the original that they might as well have simply re-released the first film and been done with it. Here's a quick, but certainly not a completely comprehensive list of material found in both films:

    A nun repeatedly hits Elwood with a slender pointing tool in response to him cursing (she hit both Belushi and Aykroyd in the original), the trademark sliding and spinning parallel parking appears in both films, and the Russian mafia and a right-wing militia group have replaced the neo-Nazi party and Carrie Fisher (all of whom try/tried to kill the Blues Brothers) from the first film. There are massive and spectacularly stupid car crashes that appear in both, and Aretha Franklin (with three doo-wop girls as her backups) performs the song "Respect" instead of "(You Better) Think" (heard in the first) to her character's husband about him rejoining the band. This also includes the same dance steps that Belushi and Aykroyd performed in the original that are repeated here.

    Additionally, the band ends up at a bluegrass concert where they have to do a cover of "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky" compared to the original where they ended up in a country and western bar and improvised the theme from "Rawhide" and the song "Stand By Your Man." We also get to see James Brown "sermonizing" in a tent revival whereas in the first film he did so in a church, but both have people doing back flips and somersaults during the performance. Even small, inconsequential moments, such as throwing a car's cigarette lighter out the window, are copied from the original film to the second. For those of you who are upset that we may have "given away" too much of this film's proceedings, don't worry, it's all there in the original film where it's done so much better because it's fresh and not recycled like this material.

    Yes, I understand that sequels are supposed to contain familiar material that we loved/liked about the original. That's fine, and I don't mind the many cameos from various musicians or even the cameos reappearing from the first. Nor do I mind hearing the piano theme from "Peter Gunn" again, or seeing the guys dressed the same as in the original. Those are elements you'd expect. It's just all of the above material that shows that director/co-writer John Landis and Aykroyd didn't even try to come up with anything original. It would be like the Superman or Batman series replacing the villains with different characters from film to film, but making all of them have the exact same diabolical plan with scenes lifted straight from the earlier films. It's lazy movie making and these guys have been caught red-handed.

    All of that's too bad because the idea of following up the original story so many years later isn't a bad one. The thought of seeing these characters nearly two decades later is intriguing -- they'd all be eighteen years older, and would be "suffering" from nearing or passing the half century age mark. The aches, pains and complaints of middle age would provide for some funny material, but none of that is addressed. While the characters have all moved on with their lives, they act as if they've been pulled from a time warp, dropped into this film, and have taken up where they left off.

    Granted the original wasn't Oscar worthy material, but at least it had a plot ("We're on a mission from God") where they had to raise money to save an orphanage and avoid an ever increasingly ridiculous amount of people who wanted to stop them. It was stupid, but at the same time it was a great deal of fun mixed with a good selection of original and covered music. The sequel, unfortunately, has a plot that continually flounders about like a fish that's fallen from the aquarium, and also has a much weaker selection of toe-tapping tunes.

    The problems don't stop there. Beyond the fact that Landis has simply rehashed the original, the biggest problem lies in John Belushi's absence. His brilliant lunacy propelled the original (and most every other film he was in) and is sorely missed here. Goodman, while okay in his "replacement" role, simply can't fill the shoes of a comic genius. That's not entirely his fault as his character has been thinly constructed, but without a Belushi-like presence the film consequently feels flat. The original brotherly partnership fueled the first film, and here Aykroyd is pretty much left alone to carry the movie and simply can't do it.

    Without a plot, the film tries to rely on its many musical numbers, but is only partially successful. Featuring a weaker selection of tunes when compared to the original, you probably won't leave the film humming any of the songs as you did/would have after seeing the first. The lip synching is also horrendous and actually had many viewers in our audience laughing over that matter. One can only hope that it was done on purpose that way, but I doubt it. There are a few decent numbers, however, such as the Busby Berkley inspired rendition of "634-5789" where some "love line" operators dance in unison around and on their desks, that at least make the film partially bearable.

    There is a big all-star musicians jam at the end that goes on for at least five minutes and features many legendary performers such as B.B. King, Eric Clapton, Dr. John, Bo Diddley, and scores of others. While it's enjoyable to watch them perform a few numbers, it just shows that the movie has completely run out of creative gas. After that, the movie simply stops in mid-thought and the credits start rolling.

    For those who've never seen the original, I suppose this might come off as passable entertainment, but the lack of any real plot plus the fact that they'll miss the inside "jokes" certainly shouldn't endear many moviegoers. As for those who have seen the original, go back and watch it again instead of sitting through this uninspired rip-off.

    If anything, I had hoped that Landis would at least not repeat the stupid car crashes from the first film, but that was wishing for too much regarding these grown up boys with their cinematic toys. According to the press notes, the big sixty car pileup -- of which they're very proud for setting the "world record" -- took four months to plan and three days to shoot. Now that's some fine use of film. Take our advice, stay away from this picture least you get into your own multiple car pileup as you try to flee the theater after seeing it. We give "Blues Brothers 2000" a minimal 2 out of 10.

    Toned down from the R rating the original earned, this PG-13 film gets that rating from profanity (10 "s" words and others) and "exotic dancing" (referring more to the women's skimpy, butt and cleavage revealing outfits). Beyond that, some thugs fire machine guns at the band, but no one is ever wounded or killed from that. One man presumably dies from a boat landing on him and exploding, but that, and most of the rest of the material certainly isn't meant to be taken at face value. There's also some drinking and smoking, and eluding the police, but again, it's done for comedy. Even so, if you're concerned about your kids (or you) seeing this, you should probably read through the listings to determine if it's appropriate or not.

  • Elwood tells Buster to stay away from "Drugs, gangs, and cyberporn."
  • Some people drink inside a strip club in several scenes.
  • Elwood pretends to drink shots of vodka with some Russian mafia members who eventually pass out from drinking too much.
  • A man has a cocktail.
  • Some people drink in a bar.
  • None.
  • Being a comedy, none of the following is presented in anything nearing a serious fashion.
  • Buster bumps into Chamberlain, and moments later shows Elwood his wallet (he pickpocketed him but said he found it). Elwood then takes five hundred dollars from the wallet and states, "The Lord works in mysterious ways." (He does leave what's essentially an I.O.U. to the cop).
  • Elwood takes Buster (a ten-year-old kid) to a strip club (to meet some people about putting the band back together).
  • Some Russian mafia members make a bar owner pay them protection money. They later come back, shoot the place up, and then burn it to the ground.
  • We briefly see (and hear) some right-wing militia members.
  • Some viewers may not like the voodoo magic performed by Queen Moussette (turning people into zombies, making musical instruments appear out of thin air, turning some people into rats, etc...).
  • A few viewers may find the many scenes where people fire their weapons at the band as tense, but none of it's purposefully designed that way.
  • One scene has the band playing the song, "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky" and we see some brief images of human skeletons riding skeleton horses that come out of a thunderstorm cloud. While not inherently scary, younger kids might be unsettled by this sight.
  • The sight of many skeletons at a Louisiana swamp mansion might be unsettling to the youngest of viewers.
  • Handguns/Machine guns: Fired by various people at the Blues Brothers throughout the movie.
  • Explosives: Blown up inside a boat as it falls and hits the ground.
  • Phrases: "Wise ass," "Slut" (not toward a woman), and "Jerking each other off."
  • Buster bumps into Chamberlain, and moments later shows Elwood his wallet (he pickpocketed him but said he found it). Elwood then takes five hundred dollars from the wallet and states, "The Lord works in mysterious ways." (He does leave what's essentially an I.O.U. to the cop).
  • Buster tries to smoke, but Elwood takes the cigarette from his mouth and throws it and the cigarette lighter out of the car (littering).
  • Elwood parallel parks his car by sliding across the street and skidding into a one hundred and eighty-degree turn up against the curb.
  • Elwood and Mighty Mack have stripped some drunk Russian mafia members down to their underwear and t-shirts and have tied them up with duct tape and left them in an alley.
  • Elwood spray paints the words, "Blues Brothers Band" on the side of a Mercedes (that they're driving).
  • We briefly see Buster sleeping in a miniature, mock bedroom in the trunk of a car. Since it's played for laughs, impressionable kids might hide in the trunk of a car.
  • To avoid a police roadblock, Elwood drives his car into a river and then along the bottom of it.
  • None.
  • None.
  • We heard a "hell" in a country song.
  • At least 10 "s" words, what sounded like 1 slang term for male genitals (the "d" word), 4 hells, 2 S.O.B.'s, 1 ass, 1 crap, and 2 uses of "G-damn" and 1 use each of "For Christ's sakes" and "My God" as exclamations.
  • Elwood learns that Curtis, his surrogate father, had an affair with a married woman years earlier, and says, "Go, Curtis!"
  • Elwood tells Buster to stay away from "Drugs, gangs, and cyberporn."
  • There are several scenes where we see many exotic dancers (in a strip club) who wear variously constructed skimpy outfits. Nearly all of them have thong-like bottoms (so we see most of their bare butts), while some have very narrow areas covering the crotch, and others also reveal quite a bit of cleavage. The women do a little bit of sensual dancing and perform in several musical numbers during the movie (ie. They're on stage for several minutes).
  • There's a brief shot of some buxom women in bikinis.
  • Buster tries to smoke, but Elwood takes the cigarette from his mouth.
  • Some people smoke inside a strip club.
  • We see several scenes where many members of the Russian mafia smoke.
  • A prison warden tells Elwood that Jake (essentially his only "family") died while he was in prison, and later he learns that Curtis, his surrogate father/mentor, also died during that time.
  • A few deaths (that occurred off screen and years earlier) are briefly discussed in the film.
  • Eluding the police and breaking the law.
  • Being a goofy comedy, obviously none of the following is supposed to be taken seriously:
  • A nun whacks Elwood several times with a slender, metal pointing rod for cursing or other inappropriate behavior.
  • Chamberlain tosses Elwood down the steps of the police office building.
  • Some Russian mafia members riddle the inside of a strip joint with machine gun fire. They then pour gasoline everywhere and set the club on fire, burning it to the ground.
  • A car flips through the air and crashes to the street.
  • Mafia members at a funeral fire their machine guns and handguns at the Blues Brothers.
  • A boat filled with explosives explodes when it hits the ground (and lands on top of a man, presumably killing him).
  • We see a massive car pileup where sixty cars crash and smash into each other (no one is apparently hurt).
  • Some Russian mafia members fire warning shots into the air.

  • Reviewed February 3 , 1998

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