Chicago is one of those cities that inspires enormous affection. In several recently reviewed films, such as "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and "Life Itself," the windy city's musical culture is evoked, although there is no movie that offers a grander celebration of Chicago and its environs and musical traditions than "The Blues Brothers," from 1980.
"The Blues Brothers" begins with the hard-living Jake Blues (played by John Belushi) being released from prison. He is reunited with his brother, Elwood (played by Dan Aykroyd). Dressed in matching suits, they go to their old orphanage and find that because of delinquent property taxes, it is on the brink of closure. Jake and Elwood try to find a way to raise money to prevent this from happening. They go to church and as they are listening to the reverend (played by James Brown); Jake comes up with the idea to get their old band back together to play some gigs to raise the money. On their journey, our heroes struggle to avoid various people. Since Elwood is driving with unpaid parking tickets, they are on the run from the police. Also, a mysterious woman (played by Carrie Fisher) keeps trying to kill them. Despite these and other obstacles, they believe they will be successful since they are on a "mission from god."
Though it is very over-the-top, "The Blues Brothers" is still an enjoyable film that features strong action scenes. As our heroes drive around in their signature "bluesmobile," they get into some impressive chases, especially near the end.
With some of the best R and B musicians in the cast, the movie has a superb soundtrack. In addition to James Brown, the film has memorable appearances by Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles and Cab Calloway.
Dan Aykroyd and the late John Belushi are very funny in the lead roles. They have great chemistry together.
"The Blues Brothers" is well worth seeing, even if it runs a little too long.