The Blues Brothers

Movie review by
Heather Boerner, Common Sense Media
The Blues Brothers Movie Poster Image
Cult classic has lots of profanity, some violence.
  • R
  • 1980
  • 133 minutes
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 10 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 40 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

While a comedy in which the two lead characters are constantly on the wrong side of law and order, the movie teaches an appreciation for jazz, blues, and rhythm and blues music by giving prominent roles and musical sequences to many of these genre's most celebrated performers, as well as through the legendary studio musicians who back up the Blues Brothers' live performances, and the music they listen to in their car in their flophouse hotel room. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

While their hearts are in the right place, the lifestyle of the Blues Brothers perpetually puts them on the wrong side of the law, resulting in Jake Blues getting out of prison after serving time for robbing a gas station so his band could get paid. Elwood falsifies his driver's license, listing his address as Wrigley Field, vandalizes police vehicles so their tires explode, and sprays epoxy on the gas pedal of a Winnebago. Despite their many transgressions, they clearly love music, and want to make others happy through the music they play. They are also motivated to reunite their old band as a way to try and rescue the orphanage where they grew up. 

Violence

Comedic violence in many scenes. A nun slaps the Blues Brothers repeatedly with a ruler due to their bad language, culminating in Jake falling down steep stairs while still in a too-small school desk. Over-the-top car chases, in a shopping mall, and, later, from a summer resort town in Wisconsin to the Loop in Chicago involving The Blues Brothers pursued by literally hundreds of police vehicles. A blind man who runs a music store fires a gun at a young boy attempting to steal a guitar. A country and western group who had a gig stolen from them by the Blues Brothers pursues them in their touring Winnebago and fires a rifle at the Blues Brothers' vehicle. Neo-Nazis also chase after the Blues Brothers and shoot at them. A woman jilted at the altar by one of the Blues Brothers follows them and detonates explosives, fires a rocket launcher, and shoots a machine gun at them, resulting in one instance in a building being destroyed. 

Sex

While stuck at a gas station, Elwood Blues propositions an attractive English woman (Twiggy) to meet him at a motel at midnight. She is later shown waiting for him. 

Language

An older African-American man tells the Blues Brothers that if the orphanage closes, he will be "just another ["N" word] on the street." Use of "f--k" and its variations. "Bulls--t." "S--t." "Piss." "Damn." "Peckerhead." In a soul food diner off of Maxwell Street in Chicago, a waitress tells her husband working in the kitchen about the "honkies" at the counter and what they ordered. 

Consumerism

During a ludicrous car chase through a shopping mall, the Blues Brothers point out various stores in the mall, such as Pier One Imports, and other now-defunct stores. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Cigarette smoking. The bass player is always smoking a pipe. Whiskey drinking, shot drinking. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Blues Brothers is a classic 1980 comedy in which John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd play music-obsessed siblings trying to reunite their old band in order to save the Chicago orphanage where they grew up. There's frequent comedic violence, including some of the most ludicrous, over-the-top car chases ever put to film, as well as a jilted bride (played by Carrie Fisher) who detonates explosives, fires a rocket launcher, and shoots a machine gun at the Blues Brothers in order to get revenge. There is one use of the "N" word, occasional use of "f--k" and its variations, and other profanity throughout the movie. Characters smoke and drink. On the positive side, this movie features classic performances from so many of the legendary performers of jazz, blues, and rhythm and blues, including Cab Calloway, John Lee Hooker, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, James Brown, as well as the studio musicians backing up the Blues Brothers, legendary musicians in their own right.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 12 year old Written byjsl April 3, 2011

A good message beneath the surface

Yes, it's funny, yes, there's strong language, but underlying message is profound - the people we least expect to make a contribution to society often... Continue reading
Adult Written byChrisams August 20, 2010

Brilliant, funny musical.

I watched this movie as a kid, and it quickly became a firm favourite, although watching it now, I'm surprised my mum let me watch it, with the language co... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byParamoreFan09 February 28, 2010

Language is all, otherwise, enjoy! :)

My dad showed the to my ten year old sister and I and we loved it! Not any blood, and super funny! Great music legends like Cab Calloway and Ray Charles, so tha... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byJ-dog21 March 23, 2009

3rd favorite movie!

3r favorite movie, just barely passed R rating by saying F**K too much

What's the story?

After three years in prison for robbery, Jake Blues (John Belushi) is released with one thing on his mind: Getting the band back together. His brother Elwood (Dan Aykroyd) has something else on his mind -- getting right with God. The brothers discover that the orphanage where they grew up will be sold if they can't raise $5,000 to pay the tax assessor, and set out to raise the money by getting the band back together and holding a benefit concert. Along the way, they meet up with some of the great R&B musicians of all time: James Brown preaching in a Baptist church; Aretha Franklin belting out "Think!" in her soul food restaurant; Cab Calloway singing to a packed house; Ray Charles singing about doing the twist in a pawn shop. Along with great music, their quest is full of car chases, property destruction, and repeated explosions. Jake and Elwood are scamps, but they pay for the damage they do, and do good in the end.

Is it any good?

THE BLUES BROTHERS holds a special place in cult movie lovers' hearts for a reason. It's surreal, it's got style, and it has great music. Indeed, it's a cross between a Saturday Night Live skit and a really great musical. Even if you hate the flimsy plot, you're likely to be humming the songs days later.

Though teens may find parts of it slow and may need to be educated about old school R&B, the film is likely to become a favorite. Expect to hear them quoting lines ("Mom, we're on a mission from God," when you question where they're going) and to see them wearing their sunglasses all the time. In the end, you get the sense that this movie is the teenage boy's dream inside Dan Aykroyd and John Landis, the cowriters.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Elwood and Jake's morals are -- or aren't --reflected in their behavior. For instance, they want to save the orphanage they grew up in, but they lie, cheat, and steal to raise the money. Is the damage they cause justified by their goal?

  • What are the ways in which this movie exposes viewers to legendary performers of jazz, blues, and rhythm and blues? Why do you think these sequences are so prominent in this movie? 

  • How is violence used for the sake of comedy in this movie? 

Movie details

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