Kehr Capsule of the Week: The Blues Brothers (1980)

John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd star as two white boys who love nuns, blacks, and the blues. But for all of the dramatic focus on poverty, the subject of John Landis‘s mise-en-scene is money—making it, spending it, blowing it away. The humor is predicated on underplaying in overscaled situations, which is sporadically funny in a Keaton-esque way but soon sputters out through sheer, uninspired repetition. With Ray Charles, John Lee Hooker, James Brown, Cab Calloway, and Aretha Franklin, who steals the show singing a song in a diner.

Follow-up – Kehr’s July 2011 New York Times review of Blues Brothers and Animal House: Continue reading “Kehr Capsule of the Week: The Blues Brothers (1980)”

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Kehr Capsule of the Week: Animal House (1978)

I probably laughed harder at this 1978 collection of college slapstick sketches than I ever have at a film I didn’t really like. Which is to say that while the low comedy is undeniably effective, the film leaves behind a bad taste of snobbery and petty meanness. In the world of the National Lampoon, humanity is divided into two groups: Us and the Assholes. And guess what—we win. John Landis directed; with John Belushi, Tim Matheson, John Vernon, Verna Bloom, Tom Hulce, Peter Riegert, Stephen Furst, Karen Allen, and Donald Sutherland. R, 109 min.