For, Friday, May 15, 2015

The first movie to be adapted from a “Saturday Night Live” skit was “The Blues Brothers” (rated R for language), which was a tremendous success, despite being a troubled production that went well over its budget.

Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi created the respective characters of Elwood and Jake Blues, with the back story that they were raised in a Chicago orphanage where a janitor introduced them to black culture, and especially black music.

On “Saturday Night Live” the Blues Brothers skits were musical in nature as the two comics wore dark sunglasses, white shirts, black suits, ties and hats, and sang, danced and jumped to music played by guest musicians as the Blues Brothers Band.


Aretha Franklin shows 'The Blues Brothers' how it's done.

“The Blues Brothers” movie opens with Jake being released from prison and Elwood picking him up in the Bluesmobile. They visit a nun (Kathleen Freeman) at the Catholic orphanage where they were raised, whom they refer to as “The Penguin,” and she informs them that the facility is about to close because there’s no money for property taxes.

When Elwood and Jake offer to get the money, she chastises them for considering thievery and informs them that she won’t accept any money that isn’t legally obtained, warning the brothers to redeem themselves.

So they accept that they’re on “a mission from God” and set out to re-form their band and earn money the old-fashioned way, despite leaving in their wake a passel of enemies and a mountain of wrecked cars.

Directed by the less-than-subtle John Landis, “The Blues Brothers” in many ways resembles “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World” — but with more car crashes.


Destruction comedy can wear on the audience if it goes on too long, and the car chases/crashes here do go on too long. But there’s some good comedy in between, even better musical numbers (especially Aretha Franklin and Calloway), and star cameos galore, including Carrie Fisher, John Candy, Ray Charles, James Brown, Henry Gibson, Twiggy, Muppeteer/filmmaker Frank Oz, future Pee-wee Herman Paul Reubens, and two famous directors, this film’s John Landis and … wait for it … Steven Spielberg.

This is one of those movies that benefits from a theater-screen showing because it’s a big film and all the destruction is pre-computer animation, meaning the cars and sets being destroyed are real. (Of course, the advantage at home is you can fast-forward through some of it.)

I’ll be checking it out on the big screen for the first time in 35 years. Can’t wait.

“The Blues Brothers” — whose R rating is for several (unnecessary) f-words — is playing at several local Cinemark theaters as part of the national chain’s latest classic-movies cycle.

You can see it on Sunday, May 17, at 2 p.m., and on Wednesday, May 20, at 2 and 7 p.m.