Today! Because they don’t have my address. I falsified my renewal, I put down 1060 West Addison –
The Blues Brothers (1980)
Directed by John Landis (x3)
Starring John Belushi (x2), Dan Aykroyd (x5), Carrie Fisher (x5), James Brown (x2), Aretha Franklin, Steve Cropper, Donald Dunn, Matt Murphy, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles, John Candy (x8), Henry Gibson (x4), Lou Marini, Willie Hall, Kathleen Freeman (x3), Frank Oz (x5), Twiggy, Charles Napier (x3), Steve Lawrence, Steven Williams (x2), John Lee Hooker, Pinetop Perkins, Steven Spielberg, Alan Rubin, Tom Malone, Murphy Dunne
One night while still living in Scranton, with then-girlfriend Sarah’s brother and his then-girlfriend visiting, we all became gripped with the idea that we needed to acquire a copy of The Blues Brothers, immediately. As I’ve written somewhere before, I have something like 1800 movies on DVD, so not having The Blues Brothers was simply insane and unacceptable and needed to be remedied post haste. So we loaded into this Oldsmobile Achieva I was driving at the time and went to the only place still open at this late hour that might possibly sell a copy of the SNL classic – Wal-Mart. You’d be right to warn against the sorts potentially encountered at late night Wal-Mart, but that evening, I think those deviant sorts were us. We were rolling frozen concentrated orange juice down the aisles and causing general mayhem – and I’m honestly not sure if they even had The Blues Brothers. We ended up with a copy eventually, but I’m not sure if it was that night.
(Incidentally, this was also the night the gas pedal on the Achieva somehow got stuck down, and for a few seconds I was convinced we were going to die. There are some indications that we possibly did all fly into a coma that night, and that everything that has happened since has been some crazed dream, what with all the Red Sox World Series championships and the current occupant of the White House. Shit, is he still president in February of 2020?! This was like the summer of 2004, I think, so maybe brain-damaged induced fantasy would’ve run out of logic, chronologically and otherwise, by this point.)
Anyway, The Blues Brothers! The best Saturday Night Live movie ever made? Probably, huh? I mean, considering they had no actual sketches to spring from – The Blues Brothers were only a musical act on the show – maybe that actually helped, because they could do whatever they wanted. And the movie, while kind of all over the place, does work as a fun, bluesy musical/chase film, with loads of great Chicago stuff in the mix. Maybe it feels a little padded, and maybe the car crashes get a bit out of control in the finale, but you can’t deny it’s a pretty enjoyable flick.
I’ve got more Blues Brothers stories – including performing “Soul Man” at some half-assed talent show in fourth grade at Neil Armstrong Elementary, so into Nick at Nite’s Best of SNL as I was. And for years afterward, I was wholly in the camp of the original cast of Saturday Night Live being the best one – which I know is a fairly popular opinion, but one often disputed as the dozens and dozens of different casts have piled up. I can say with near certainty that I’ve seen every single episode of SNL, what with the prevalence of streaming bootlegs available on the modern internet, and I’d like to go on record with my adjusted opinion of Best Cast Ever. Pound-for-pound, I now contend that Season 31 (2005-2006) was the best total collection of talent ever on the show. There are a lot of similar casts around it, obviously, but 31 doesn’t feature any dead weight, and comes at the confluence of the two major casts of the era – it being the only season to include the late ’00s group of Hader, Wiig, Samberg, and Sudeikis with the Fey, Dratch, Parnell, Sanz group who’d leave at year’s end. All this in addition to Poehler, Meyers, Armisen, Forte, Hammond, Rudolph, and the eternal Kenan Thompson. Tell me where I’m wrong – Season 31 was the apex.
I know you came for The Blues Brothers and I’ve gotten super sidetracked, but I needed to fit this in somewhere, didn’t I? “So get off my back, you big sex machine!” (Dan Aykroyd as Yortuk Festrunk, SNL, 4/22/1978)
The giant comic cast features loads of advancing guild members – not the least of which are newly minted Five-Timers Aykroyd (1941, Chaplin, Twilight Zone, Sneakers), Fisher (Soapdish, Hannah and Her Sisters, Jay and Silent Bob, When Harry Met Sally), and Oz (Phantom Menace, Muppet Treasure Island, Muppets From Space, Muppet Christmas Carol), but it is the great John Candy finally tying RDJ for the most appearances on the list as a fellow Eight-Timer (Planes, Trains and Automobiles, JFK, Stripes, 1941, Delirious, Home Alone, Spaceballs) that wins the day!