As a Chicago
-area native, one reason the original Blues Brothers
film is so special is its authenticity
. The places they went, that they sped past, were all places I had seen or been to. Lower Wacker Drive
, the Chez Paul
, Wrigley Field
, City Hall
, the Honorable Richard J. Daley Plaza
. It was "real", in a fictional sense
. You could vividly imagine being being downtown on an average day as the big pursuit rolls by. "Yeah, Maxwell Street was really like that back then, with the street merchants and the sidewalk blues artists!" They used the same model Ford
s and Dodge
s, with the same paint schemes and lights as the Chicago and Illinois State Police. "I see cop cars like that every day!" Seeing a movie make really good use of locations is kind of like having a famous guest in your house
Blues Brothers 2000 had none of this. Cheap Chevy Luminas as police cars. The wrong paint schemes and badges and crests on officers' uniforms. Unforgivable geographical mistakes. We barely ever see Chicago. (Chrissakes, it was filmed in Toronto!) A completely staged-for-the-purposes-of-plot "battle of the bands". If this were a real musical competition, why aren't there more than two bands? Where is the audience? We've made a lot of progress in the last twenty years, but there's still no way I'll believe that Mercedes would grant a dealership in Chicago to a black woman who ran a soul food restaurant and has an ex-con husband. Or to Aretha Franklin, for that matter. (That's an old-boy network that doesn't change so fast.) The only surreal character in The Blues Brothers was Sister Mary Stigmata. They were almost all surreal in Blues Brothers 2000. This movie didn't feel like it happened in your backyard. It felt like it happened in Wonderland. (Or Hollywood.)
Great cast. Great music. (Thank God there wasn't a catastrophic accident the day they filmed that "battle of the bands" scene, there were so many big names there, American music would have been maimed for decades.) But I only saw the movie once, in the theater. I refuse to see it again. I had to go home that day and watch the letterbox version of the original, and Ferris Bueller's Day Off to cleanse myself afterwards. I've never felt so disappointed.
Dan, this coulda been something. It had so much potential. But it was a bomb...