Reviewed by: Bill Royce
Prequel: “The Blues Brothers” (1980)
Featuring a star studded cast of performers, “Blues Brothers 2000” follows its predecessor, “The Blues Brothers” (1980), in image and intent but fails to regain the spirit of the original film.
Dan Aykroyd, reprising his role as Elwood Blues, is released from prison and finds himself alone after learning his brother Jake is dead. While grieving he realizes that all the family he has is the blues. Elwood then sets out to get the Blues Brothers Blues Band back together. In doing so Elwood befriends Buster (J. Evan Bonifant), an orphaned boy, and Mack McTeer (John Goodman), a bartender. Together they form the men in black of the band. They set out for their first gigs and soon find they are being pursued by the police, the highway patrol, and the F.B.I. Like the first movie, the band finds ways to evade and avoid the authorities in order to play their gigs. The movie culminates with an all-star jam session featuring Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Bo Diddley, Travis Tritt and many other accomplished musicians.
The Blues Brothers without John Belushi is less captivating. Aykroyd and Belushi had a chemistry that the new characters do not replace. These new members seem to shadow Elwood and rarely show distinct personality. Quotable lines are less frequent. Still, the band’s antics to get out of tight situations carry the plot. The lifeblood of the film lies in the musical numbers interspersed throughout. Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Wilson Pickett and even Jonny Lang all make stellar performances. In addition the band does a terrific rendition of “Ghost Riders in the Sky.”
As enjoyable as “Blues Brothers 2000” may be at times, it contains scenes involving exotic dancing of scantily clad females. These incidents occur exclusively in the first half hour of the movie mostly to show the depravity of one of the band members. Also “Blues Brothers 2000” presents a somewhat confusing picture of God. Elwood proclaims throughout that “the Lord works in mysterious ways.” Indeed this message has validity. But when used to explain the voodoo practiced by a character at the end of the movie, this phrase betrays the God who condemns witchcraft and the practice of magic arts. The voodoo practices of a character at the end of the film could alarm and confuse younger children. The constant evasion of the police also sends a mixed message about respect for authorities and moral behavior.