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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Blues Brothers 2000

*** Blues Brothers 2000. Comedy/musical.

Directed by: John Landis.

Starring: Dan Ackroyd, John Goodman.

Since the kids enjoyed
The Blues Brothers so much, I put the sequel in our Netflix queue.

Elwood Blues (Dan Ackroyd) is released from prison only to find that his brother Jake (John Belushi) has died in his absence. And that's not the only thing that's changed. The orphanage where he grew up is closing, and Sister Mary Stigmata asks for his help in raising money for the children's hospital that will be taking its place.

The answer to which is, of course, putting the band back together. Oh, and in the meantime, the good sister wants Elwood to spend a couple of hours with Buster, one of the last kids from the orphanage.

There are the usual hijinks with putting the band back together, and Elwood forgets about taking Buster back. So the cops, including Cab, the illegitimate son of Curtis (
Cab Calloway, who also died in the meantime), who's sort of an honorary stepbrother, are after him for kidnapping the boy. And of course there are a bunch of other groups after him, including some of those from the first movie who are after revenge.

Once again, it's a race to get to The One Gig that'll earn them the money they need. This time, it's a battle of the bands in New Orleans.

The problem is, my summary sounds a lot more cohesive than the plot is. Starting with the obvious question of why Elwood was the only one in jail (at the end of the last movie, they were all in jail. Granted, the other band members might have had lesser sentences, but Jake's should have been the same as Elwood's).

The Mission From God wasn't really a mission from God, this time. The orphanage is closing regardless, and Elwood's quest is more along the lines of a charity drive, so there's no urgency there.

Buster and Cab... well, I didn't much see the point. They seemed like tangents to me. Cab's story could have been pretty good--learning about and then eventually embracing his musical heritage--but it's barely touched on.

And then once they get to New Orleans, there's some completely out-of-left-field magical voodoo effect that make no sense and don't have anything to do with the plot. It's almost like a few minutes of footage from another film got spliced into this one by mistake, except that the same actors are in it.

On the other hand, there's the music. It's no surprise that on Amazon, the DVD has 3 stars, while the soundtrack has 4.5. The sheer number--and quality!--of famous musicians who appear in this movie is amazing. In the jam sessions at the end, we made a game of trying to see who could identify more of them.

Mostly, the plot is rushed through to get to the music. Which is, I suppose, understandable, unless you compare it with the original, in which the plot, while simplistic, still made sense, and was funny as hell. It feels like they tried to add too much to make up for the absence of Belushi and Calloway, when a simpler plot would have worked better--it could have been more completely explored, and it wouldn't have been so obvious that the plot was sacrificed to the music.

It was great music, though. So much so that the boys argued with me about giving this 3 stars, saying it deserved more just for the music.


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