The Blues Brothers (1980) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Blues Brothers1980

The Blues Brothers (1980)



Critic Consensus: Too over the top for its own good, but ultimately rescued by the cast's charm, director John Landis' grace, and several soul-stirring musical numbers.

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Movie Info

Expanding on their Saturday Night Live characters, John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd star as Jake and Elwood Blues, two white boys with black soul. Sporting cool shades and look-alike suits, Jake and Elwood are dispatched on a "mission from God" by their former teacher, Sister Mary Stigmata (Kathleen Freeman). Said mission is to raise $5000 to save an orphanage. In the course of their zany adventures, the Blues Brothers run afoul of neo-Nazi Henry Gibson, perform the theme from Rawhide before the most unruly bar crowd in written history, and lay waste to hundreds of cars on the streets and freeways of Chicago. In case you aren't swept up in the infectuous nuttiness of the brothers Blue, you might have fun spotting film's legion of guest stars, including James Brown, Cab Calloway, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, John Candy, Carrie Fisher, Steve Lawrence, Twiggy, Paul Reubens (aka Pee-Wee Herman), Frank Oz, and Steven Spielberg. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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John Belushi
as "Joliet" Jake Blues
Dan Aykroyd
as Elwood Blues
James Brown (II)
as Reverend Cleophus James
Carrie Fisher
as Mystery Woman
Aretha Franklin
as Mrs. Murphy
Henry Gibson
as Nazi Leader
John Candy
as Burton Mercer
Steve Cropper
as Steve `The Colonel' Cropper
Willie Hall
as Willie `Too Big' Hall
Tom Malone
as `Bones' Malone
Lou Marini
as `Blue' Lou Marini
Matt Murphy
as Matt `Guitar' Murphy
Frank Oz
as Corrections Officer
Kathleen Freeman
as Sister Mary Stigmata
Armand Cerani
as Trooper Daniel
Steven Williams
as Trooper Mount
Charles Napier
as Tucker McElroy
Steve Lawrence
as Maury Slime
as Chic Lady
Steven Spielberg
as Cook County Clerk
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News & Interviews for The Blues Brothers

Critic Reviews for The Blues Brothers

All Critics (57) | Top Critics (11)

There is no more material sustaining The Blues Brothers"than one would find in a silent comedy short running 10 or 20 minutes.

December 18, 2015 | Full Review…

The film retains a huge nostalgic kick, thanks in large part to Aykroyd and Belushi's easy rapport, a smattering of daft, shaggy humour and some truly iconic musical sequences.

July 24, 2009 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

I have never been quite sure why this $30 million comedy made by John Landis in 1980 became such a cult.

July 24, 2009 | Rating: 3/5

Formless, chaotic and lazy, and quite brilliant because of it.

July 24, 2009 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

The mere spectacle of Elwood and Jake in their shades isn't quite as giggle-inducing as it presumably was back in 1980, but the stunts are still awe-inspiring, and there's plenty of laughs. They really were thinking big.

July 24, 2009 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

There's no indication that Landis knows what the words "pace" or "mood" mean. He operates on one track.

July 24, 2009 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Blues Brothers

I can't believe it's been almost 40 years since I saw this movie last. For some reason, I have this idea that Akroyd and Belushi did more songs. For me, that would be the main reason to see this. It's a major disappointment for me that they do so few. Their repertoire on Saturday Night Live was larger, if I'm actually remembering that correctly -- which I may not be. A great list of music makers in this movie. Cab Calloway comes away with the largest acting part of the singers, and he pulls off his acting portions well. I'm going to take a wild guess and say that the cost of making this movie was enormous, definitely one of the largest. Maybe 200 or 300 cars wrecked, along with property worth millions. One of the most destructive movies. The actor payroll would have contributed to this stupendous cost as well. I think my mom, who was from Chicago, would have liked their love for the city, but even though this has become a bit of a cult classic, I'd say that she would not have enjoyed the movie very much. It pains me greatly, since I loved them as short range sketch artists, that neither of these SNL grads can do much in terms of acting, but this was a nice job of carrying over to the big screen.

Lanning : )
Lanning : )

Super Reviewer


Even if it is bloated, overlong and not really able to maintain a regular rhythm for a comedy, thus dragging exceedingly and making its jokes feel sparse sometimes, this is still a charming film that can be very funny in its best moments to compensate for those flaws.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

"It's 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark and we're wearing sunglasses..." It's always a tricky one when you revisit a film that was a big part of your adolescence and in some ways responsible for laying the groundwork on your love of movies. There's likely to be a tinge of nostalgia or reminiscence, making it difficult to judge it objectively. That said, sometimes the film is just so much fun and so enjoyable that you know why you hold it in such high regard in the first place. Without a shadow of a doubt, The Blues Brothers is (still) that kind of film. When "Joliet" Jake Blues (John Belushi) is released from prison, he and his brother Elwood (Dan Aykroyd) pay a visit to the old Catholic home where they grew up. They soon find out that the orphanage is to be shut down due to lack of funds. As a result, Jake and Elwood go on a mission to re-form their old blues band and raise the money required. Say what you will about the comedic talents of Will Ferrell, Adam Sandler or Mike Myers but they share something in common in terms of making their name on comedy sketch show Saturday Night Live. These names are just three of the shows recent successful comedians but having, personally, been born in the late 70's and grew up throughout the 80's, most of the comedies I was exposed to were filled with the familiar faces that actually had a hand in the origins of this show - Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy and, of course, John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd. In fact, The Blues Brothers is an adaptation of a short sketch that first aired on Saturday Night Live and is one of only two successful film adaptations from the show - the other being Wayne's World. However, despite this films success, it was actually fraught with production problems and a budget that got way out control. Firstly, Dan Aykroyd's script was a massive 324 pages (three times longer than a normal screenplay) which he jokingly bound in the cover of the Yellow Pages before delivering it to John Landis to edit it down. Also, Landis' outlandish car chases and vehicular pile-up's throughout the end of the film sent the budget $10million over it's initial $17.5. This wasn't helped by John Belushi's spiralling drug habit which would cause him to disappear for lengthy periods from the set. These issues aside, though, The Blues Brothers still struck a chord with audiences and critics alike - even the Vatican gave it the thumbs-up for being a good Catholic movie - and it has since went on to become a cult classic. Over 30 years later, it's easy to see why... The story doesn't really amount to very much but the titular characters are hard to resist as they ooze a laid-back cool, dressed in their iconic black suits and dark Ray-Bans - a good ten years before Tarantino's similarly attired Reservoir Dogs. Jake and Elwood manage to get themselves in all sorts of scrapes and upset a whole horde of different people; a machine gun, bazooka wielding disgruntled ex-girlfriend (Carrie Fisher), the Illinois Nazi Party, country band The Good Ol' Boys and, not to mention, the sheer tally of cops, all in hot pursuit. It's riotously over the top and when the film reaches it's denouement it has already crossed the ridiculous border but Landis and Aykroyd know this. They simply don't care. And that's what makes the film so enjoyable. There's an unashamedly free-spirited nature to the proceedings which is highly infectious but nothing entertains more than the magnificent musical numbers from a choice selection of Soul and R&B talents. Among the many toe-tapping highlights are Aretha Franklin's "Think", Cab Calloway's "Minnie the Moocher", John Lee Hooker's "Boom Boom" and the great Ray Charles with "Shake a Tail Feather". The Blues Brothers has stood the test of time and truly is one of a kind. It's provides action, laughs and song and dance numbers that haven't aged a bit. It's admittedly raucous, loud and chaotic but as far as I'm concerned, anything goes when you're "on a mission from God". Mark Walker

Mark Walker
Mark Walker

Super Reviewer

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