After nearly twenty years, I can finally admit it: I’m the one who paid to see “Blues Brothers 2000” in the theater. I know, I know.
This was not my finest movie moment, and one I’d rather forget. But in my defence, I didn’t think Dan Aykroyd and John Landis would screw it up so badly. And in 1998, the internet was not filled with movie spoilers like it is today, so I had no idea what I was in for. But once the movies started, I knew right away this was going to be a painful experience.
“Blues Brothers 2000” begins with Elwood Blues (Dan Aykroyd) getting out of prison and finding out his brother died years ago. This was the moment the movie lost me. I mean seriously, we’re supposed to believe that NOBODY would tell Elwood his only brother is dead? But things just got worse from here.
Just like in the first movie, Elwood wants to get the old band back together. But this time, Sister Mary wants him to mentor Buster (J. Evan Bonifant), a 10-year-old orphan. I feel bad for J. Evan Bonifant because was put in a no win situation. Fans of the original movie were not ready to accepts a Blues Brothers kid. And whoever told him to just act like a grumpy elderly person, didn’t do the kid any favors.
The kid eventually bonds with Elwood, and gets his own Blues Brothers suit. Now, I’m no legal expert, but since Elwood doesn’t bring Buster back to the orphanage and then transports him out-of-state, doesn’t that mean that Elwood kidnapped Buster?
But who cares about such silly things when it serves the movie plot.
Seeking out his old band mates, Elwood goes to a strip joint where he meets Mighty Mack (John Goodman), a bartender who has a good voice and is enlisted as Jake’s replacement when the club is torched by Russians (don’t ask). For what it’s worth, John Goodman is the only one in the movie who looks like he’s having fun. He played Mack with such joy you couldn’t help but like him.
Other band members are added along the way, and because every movie needs a villain, the band gets chased by a state trooper (Joe Morton) who is sort of Elwood’s stepbrother. but not really. Not that it matters, because about halfway through the film, Morton has a revelation. He levitates hundreds of feet above the ground, but nobody bats an eye, and he quickly joins the band.
Just like the original movie, “Blues Brothers 2000” has plenty of musical numbers. The film has performances by Aretha Franklin (“R.E.S.P.E.C.T.”), Eddie Floyd (“634-5789”), John Popper and Blues Traveler (“Maybe I’m Wrong”), and i haven’t even mentioned the finale which features B.B King, Steve Winwood, Eric Clapton, and Erykah Badu, to name a few.
These musical numbers are okay for the most part, but unlike in the original, the performances in “Blues Brothers 2000” feel forced. In the first movie the music moved the story forward, and fit into whatever was happening. But in BB 2000, a scene starts playing out, and all of a sudden everyone breaks into singing and dancing for no reason at all.
In hindsight, it was silly of me to expect this movie to match anything in the classic “Blues Brothers.” But with a few changes, this still could have been a decent movie, or at least a watchable one. The talent is there, all they needed was a better story, an R rating, and no Buster. With just a few tweaks, “Blues Brothers 2000” might have had a chance.