Soul-stirring celebration or crass cultural exploitation? Truth is, ‘The Blues Brothers’ is a bit of both, lending exposure to rhythm and blues legends who might otherwise have faded into silence while at the same time treating black culture as a colourful pantomime backdrop for the antics of two white comedians. That Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi adore this music is not in question – it’s lovingly chosen and brilliantly performed – but the film sometimes feels like a work of cultural tourism, particularly in scenes set in a gospel church and a Chicago street market. These lively musical sequences also sit awkwardly with director John Landis’s bizarre predilection for wholesale destruction: sure, smashing up cop cars can be fun, but Landis takes things to a tiresome extreme. Still, the film retains a huge nostalgic kick, thanks in large part to Aykroyd and Belushi’s easy rapport, a smattering of daft, shaggy humour and some truly iconic musical sequences.
Cast and crew
Dan Aykroyd, John Landis
John Belushi Dan Aykroyd Kathleen Freeman James Brown Henry Gibson John Landis Frank Oz Cab Calloway Aretha Franklin Carrie Fisher