1980’s The Blues Brothers is an undisputed classic, but Blues Brothers 2000, its belated 1998 sequel? Well, that’s a completely different story.
Released 25 years ago, some 18 years after the original, series star, co-creator and co-writer Dan Aykroyd threw everything away in an attempt to carry on the legacy, both film and musical, of his first screen appearance. big with fellow Saturday Night Live member John Belushi.
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However, the end result left audiences wishing he had left it alone. Instead of the cool vibes of director John Landis’ first film, Blues Brothers 2000’s goofy, off-kilter humor left viewers with a case of the blues.
So what went wrong?
Looking back, perhaps he fell victim to a great deal of expectation after a movie that set the bar pretty high. Co-written by Landis and Aykroyd, The Blues Brothers found Jake (Elwood) reunited with his brother Elwood (Aykroyd) after a stint in Joliet prison.
After receiving a vision from the afterlife, Jake’s life purpose is revealed, setting these musical brothers on a mission from God to reform their band and raise enough money to save the orphanage that took them in as music-loving children. blues. What ensues is a wacky road trip as Jake and Elwood reunite their former bandmates while angering Illinois Nazis, evading Jake’s bazooka-wielding ex, angering a bluegrass band, and drawing the public eye. attention of nearly every police officer in the United States.
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Then there is its ignored cultural impact. Despite being fronted by two white male leads showcasing music created by black musicians, a factor that later resulted in accusations of cultural appropriation, Akyroyd, Belushi and Landis ensured that everything they did was driven by love and respect. for the blues, and its originators.
“Theaters in the South didn’t want to show the movie because of the African-American artists,” Aykroyd revealed during a 2020 interview celebrating The Blues Brothers 40th anniversary, “but when it became a hit, they opened up and people were able to see it. . It acts as cultural preservation.”
He continued, adding: “We made sure that the writers of the material kept their publishing rights. John and I only take the rights of the performers. Every single one of those songs we recorded gave back 100% to the original artists due to album sales. It was an ethical decision and today’s composers and their estates have benefited from it.”
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Landis echoed the sentiment: “The Blues Brothers are a testament to John and Dan’s passion for the blues. They took advantage of their celebrity to put a spotlight on soul music. I’m proud of that.”
Meanwhile, fans had almost two decades to soak it all in; he spent years learning Jake and Elwood’s dialogue word for word, revisiting key scenes, and playing the accompanying hit-packed soundtrack. When a sequel finally materialized in 1998, the chances were good that nothing he could do could match what he’d already accomplished.
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For the most part, these expectations were spot on. Looking back at Blues Brothers 2000 as it turns 25 and the legacy of it isn’t just as a poor follow-up, it regularly appears on lists of the worst sequels ever.
If we’re being nice, it’s not all bad.
Landis returns to pick up Elwood’s story 18 years after the events of the first film, just as he is released from his stint in Joilett, a sentence Jake sadly couldn’t finish. Undeterred, he sets out to get the old band together once more, this time with some new members, including John Goodman as new vocalist “Mighty” Mack McTeer and kid Buster Blues (J. Evan Bonifant).
Together, they waste no time replicating the maniacal, chase narrative of the first film, with plenty of musical cameos appearing throughout. It is in this area that the film is extremely successful, with welcome encore performances from Aretha Franklin and James Brown, and new musical numbers from the likes of Eddie Floyd and Wilson Pickett inhabiting the same environment as the original.
However, when it comes to the movie’s humor, things aren’t so surprising. Where the first part flirted with the ridiculous (can the Bluesmobile really jump that bridge?), Blues Brothers 2000 fully embraced the silly, with a series of sequences that are hard to forgive.
Was Elwood really so worried about being seen without his sunglasses that he would resort to covering his eyes when he took them off? Is it enough to plaster his entire head with shaving foam and claim he’s having a bad reaction to the medication to help him outsmart the police?
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The cartoony nature of this belated sequel is so amplified that at one point, Elwood and his newly reformed gang are magically transformed into statues by an ancient voodoo witch and we’re expected to come along for the ride. It was at this point that most viewers probably hung up their hat and sunglasses forever.
In hindsight, perhaps the true legacy of Blues Brothers 2000 is to serve as a stark warning to our current audiences hungry for legacy movie sequels to be careful what you wish for.
Fan love for pop culture properties or particular sets of characters can certainly be strong enough to endure over time, but sometimes it’s better to leave a few classics untouched in the past.
Blues Brothers 2000 is available to rent or buy on PVOD.
See: Dan Aykroyd remembers The Blues Brothers