Blues Brothers 2000 full movie review - "Blues Brothers 2000" isn't quite the train-wreck it's made out to be, but it is still a far inferior sequel to an outstanding original.
The best way to describe the 1998 sequel "Blues Brothers 2000" is this: If the original 1980 classic was like hearing a really good joke told by a classic stand-up comedian wi
th perfect timing and conviction, "Blues Brothers 2000" is like hearing that same joke re-told by a friend with far less charisma. Sure, the humor may still be there. Maybe even a little bit of the charm. But it's just nothing compared to the original, and it does lose a lot in translation.
It's too much of a re-telling of the original film, to the point that the label of "sequel" is an almost inaccurate term to describe it. It's startlingly close to venturing into "remake" territory. That being said, it's not without its strengths, and I do feel it's nowhere near the abomination and train-wreck that many make it out to be.
John Landis returns to direct this sequel, in addition to co-writing the script with star Dan Aykroyd. To make up for the absence of John Belushi and Cab Calloway, several newcomers are added to the film, including John Goodman, Joe Morton and J. Evan Bonifant.
18 years after the original film, Elwood Blues (Aykroyd) is finally released from prison, only to discover that his brother Jake and mentor/father-figure Curtis have both passed away. Seeking guidance, Elwood becomes a mentor to "Buster" (Bonifant), a 10-year-old boy, and seeks out Curtis' illegitimate son Cabel Chamberlain (Morton), whom doesn't take well to the news that his true father was a man his mother had an affair with. After re-uniting with his former drummer, meeting a talented singer named Mack McTeer (Goodman) and running afoul of Russian gangsters, Elwood and the gang decide to re-unite their band to perform again.
The film, to its credit, does have a number of strengths.
The performances are a lot of fun. Aykroyd does come off as a slightly different character in this film, but I was able to go with it, as Elwood is 18 years older and contending with a different part of his life, dealing with loss and new beginnings. Goodman steals the show, though. His character "Mighty" Mack is arguably a surrogate and replacement for the late John Bellushi, but Goodman makes the role his own and has a lot of fun making the character different... someone who is not born a "Blues Brother", but adopts the persona. Bonifant is a talented child-actor, and he does his best, but the role of Buster is a bit on the poorly-written side, and it feels like too much of a jumping- the-shark gimmick to add a child to the mix. But he does a good job. And Joe Morton is great as Cabel "Cab" Chamberlain, who is in pursuit of Elwood for much of the film, but may end up joining him under the right circumstances.
The music is also fantastic. Much like the original film, the plethora of song-and-dance numbers are perfect, and all feature good, old- fashioned choreography and imagery. They are the one part of the film that easily lived up to the original, if not slightly exceeded it.
And beyond that, many of the jokes do work, particularly an uproariously funny recall of the "car pileup" sequence from the original movie that plays like a deranged cartoon.
Those things being said, this is not a good film. It has just as many flaws as strengths, and due to the high quality of the original masterpiece, those weaknesses do stand out even more.
As mentioned above, I view the main problem of the film as its insistence to feel less like a sequel and more like a remake. I felt that too much of the film was devoted to references, callbacks, and even entire scenes lifted almost directly from the original. There are moments where this can work (the opening scene outside of the prison, the car-pileup, etc.) in more subtle ways or in ways that cause the film to do the opposite of the original. But this movie doesn't do that. This movie simply tries to constantly point out how similar it is to the first film, no matter how contrived or bizarre it may feel as a result. And when the film just isn't as well put together (as is in the case with this film's script), it makes it seem a lot worse than it is.
It also has a wide array of smaller issues with the tone, style and writing beyond the above issue. It feels far more sanitized stylistically, both due to the lower PG-13 rating and just because I believe Aykroyd and Landis were different people when they made this film. It's too... "clean." Especially with the addition of a child- actor, which felt like too much of an attempt to soften the material and appeal to the family crowds that the prior film clearly wasn't going for.
I also found that many scenes felt jarringly out of place or cartoonish. Even though the first film had a lot of religious imagery and toyed with things like breaking the laws of physics and the whole "mission from God"... In this film, all of the more over-the-top ideas feel more random and it doesn't gel as well. (Including a bizarre scene where, without spoiling anything, a character appears to lifted from a church and transformed by heavenly light, or another scene in which a Voodoo Priestess exhibits various supernatural powers) It doesn't quite work.
Those complaints being said, the music is fantastic and the acting is a lot of fun for the most part. And I do think this is a fundamentally entertaining film (albeit also fundamentally flawed) for those reasons, and nowhere near the atrocity some have made it out to be.
"Blues Brothers 2000" gets an average 5-out-of-10 for me. See it for the music and try to ignore the rest.