Though I’m a sentimental guy, there are actually very few movies that are so revered in my own mind that a remake is immediately blasphemous. So I’m not offended by the news that Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi’s wife, Judy, are plotting to adapt The Blues Brothers into a television show. The original film was a rambling wreck of a road-movie duct-taped together by the magnetic Belushi and a series of thrilling musical sequences. But any remnants of the original film’s magic were trampled upon by 1998’s Blues Brothers 2000, the head-scratching sequel that co-starred John Goodman and a 10-year-old orphan in shades. (To say nothing of the frequent Blues Brothers reunion tours over the years.) The property is anything but sacred at this point.
Still, Variety’s report about a revival – which is still just a concept at this point – was littered with enough screaming STOP signs that even Jake and Elwood might be inclined to take their foot off the gas.
One, Elwood sets out to find his real father. No further comment necessary. Two, “We’re not trying to replicate Dan and John but Jake and Elwood,” co-writer Anne Beatts (Saturday Night Live) told the paper. Well, that’s the rub, isn’t it? Who is Jake Blues but John Belushi? As Jim Belushi and John Goodman have proven, you can’t just put a hat and some shades on a stout comic and call it Blues. John Belushi was Jake, and Aykroyd was Elwood. As futile as the effort might seem, the goal has to be Belushi, not Jake. Not an imitation, per se, but the white-hot energy has to be there.
Finally, “It would be Route 66 meets Glee, and it all goes to hell in a handbasket,” Beatts said. For people not around in the 1960s, Route 66 was a TV show about two young road-dogs cruising the country in a Corvette. The Glee reference reflects an intention to include a musical number in each episode. Unfortunately, both shows seem like something Belushi would raise an eyebrow over.
More than anything else, the original Blues Brothers were cool. Maybe Jake and Elwood can be cool again, but singing about the search for your long-lost dad sounds about as hip as the word “hip.” If this show does happens, I hope the new Blues are protected behind a curtain of chicken wire because them doggies be rollin’. Of course, as Hawaii Five-0 and Charlie’s Angels have proven, the 1970s are alive and well on network television. Who knows? Maybe Jake and Elwood are ready to ride again.
Can you envision turning in for the new adventures of the Brothers Blue? Is there any network that would give you hope, if you heard they were associated with a Blues Brothers TV show? For example, if FX landed the show, would you be more intrigued than if CBS signed on?