Thursday, February 4, 2010

I Got the Blues

I've been watching Blues Brothers 2000 (for work-related reasons, if you can believe that), and it occurs to me that I've never seen another movie that had so little reason to exist. There was never any chance that Blues Brothers 2000 was going be any good, was going to have any sort of artistic or critical success. There was never any chance that it was going to make money: It came 18 years after the original, and the second banana was now the star. Who greenlighted this thing?

So far, it has lived down to my expectations, not least of which because it aspires to be exactly the same movie as The Blues Brothers. At the outset, a Blues Brother gets out of prison and goes back to the orphanage where he grew up. He decides to get the old band back together, which means going to round them up at their current jobs, and having Aretha Franklin object to Matt "Guitar" Murphy leaving their family business to go back to the band, at which point she sings an R&B classic about a million times better than the Blues Brothers can sing. Then the band gets booked into a venue for a bunch of rednecks and has to bust out some classic C&W. They cross swords with a racist group that vows revenge. Dozens of cop cars pile up on each other. And so on.

John Belushi, you might have heard, died in 1983. He's replaced here by John Goodman, who doesn't sing all that well - neither did Belushi, for that matter, but at least he had stage presence to burn. Compounding matters, Dan Aykroyd hasn't bothered to write any sort of character for Goodman; he just wears the suit and hat and shades, and glowers. I've heard that in those classic samurai sketches, there wasn't really any sort of script other than "Belushi does some samurai shtick." That appears to be what happened here: "Goodman does some Belushi shtick."

It's as if Chris Farley decided to make another Blues Brothers movie: "Remember when all those police cars kept crashing into each other? That was awesome. Let's have even more police cars crash into each other!" Why was this movie made?

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