Blues Brothers 2000 Movie Review

Movie Review by Anthony Leong © Copyright 1998

The Lord works in mysterious ways...

"Blues Brothers 2000", the follow-up to the 1980 musical-comedy "Blues Brothers", is true to the spirit of the original movie... only without the inspiration, originality, spectacle, or humor (looks like the marketing people got to it!).

It's been eighteen years since Jake (played by the late John Belushi) and Elwood (the keeper of the Blues flame, Dan Aykroyd) completed their 'mission from God', delivering the money that saved an orphanage. The orphanage is now gone, Jake is dead, a more loquacious Elwood is finally paroled for the hundred-plus moving violations of the first movie, and to top it off, all that's playing on the radio are the euro-techno-retro-hip-hop-gangsta-electronica synthesized and soulless beats belonging to a new generation thrice-removed from the heyday of rhythm-and-blues.

Feeling rootless in a changed world, Elwood devotes himself to reforming the Blues Brothers band. Along the way, he picks up a rag-tag of old school devotees, including the 10-year old orphan Buster (a scene-stealing J. Evan Bonifant), the quiet man with the big voice Mighty Mack (John Goodman, last seen in "Fallen"), and familiar faces from the original band. They hit the road and head for Louisiana to compete in the mother of all battle of the bands, held at the mansion of Voodoo Queen Mousette (hey, Erykah Badu!).

However, they have many obstacles to overcome in order to prove themselves to be the best rhythm-and-blues show band in the world. Sister Mary Stigmata (Kathleen Freeman, returning from the first movie) believes that Elwood has kidnapped Buster, and has called in the FBI to track them down. The State Police, led by Commander Cabel Chamberlain (Joe Morton from "Lone Star") who involuntarily 'lends' $500 to Elwood, are also in hot pursuit, along with the Russian Mafia and a group of right-wing militia neo-nazi skinheads. And last, but not least, the Blues Brothers band must face off against the Louisiana Gator Boys, a band stacked with a who's who of blues, including Eric Clapton, Bo Diddley, Dr. John, Steve Winwood, Wilson Pickett, and many more.

Unfortunately, BB2000 lacks the punch of its predecessor. The narrative is essentially a string of implausible escapes that are not only humorless, but retread events from the first movie. Yes, Aretha Franklin belts out "Respect" once again and James Brown gives another musical sermon, and despite the high energy level of these musical interludes, we've been there and done that already-- it's not as memorable the second time 'round. BB2000 also lacks the epic scope of the original, to the point of appearing incomplete-- sure, we get to see a one-hundred police car pile-up, but the flabby climax of BB2000 pales in comparison to the journey that Jake and Elwood took eighteen years prior, which included one of the greatest car chases in movie history and ended with hundreds of National Guardsmen and law enforcement officers storming the office building where the money for the orphanage was delivered.

Other than the music and choreography, there's not much to jump up and down about in "Blues Brothers 2000". Unless you are the type that salivates at seeing the legends of rhythm-and-blues on the big screen, you'll probably find it an unsatisfying experience. Save your money, and rent the original instead.

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