Film / The Blues Brothers

Elwood: It's 106 miles to Chicago. We got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark, and we're wearing sunglasses.
Jake: Hit it.

The first Saturday Night Live skit to be spun off into a movie, and arguably the best. Back when Dan Aykroyd wasn't fat and John Belushi wasn't dead, they starred together in an occasional sketch-cum-musical-act featuring the two of them in dark suits and sunglasses as "The Blues Brothers"; Belushi was Jake Blues, and Aykroyd was Jake's silent brother Elwood. What made the skits good? The duo were skilled at both the comedy (which was obvious) and the music (which was surprising). Aykroyd and Belushi spun off their own band with established musicians (members of the SNL house band as well as experienced R&B musicians) and served as the frontmen, in character as Elwood and Jake; their 1978 album Briefcase Full of Blues was a big success in its own right, topping the Billboard album chart and producing a Top 20 hit single with their remake of the Sam & Dave classic "Soul Man".

In 1980, they got a musical-extravaganza feature film—titled The Blues Brothers—that quickly and deservedly became a Cult Classic. "Joliet" Jake Blues has just been released from prison, with Elwood there to pick him up in a battered piece of crap that used to be a police car. (Elwood is not silent in this film; he gives some serious lectures.) Fulfilling a promise made before Jake began serving his sentence, the brothers go to the Chicagoland orphanage where they grew up and visit "The Penguin", the nun who runs the place. During this meeting, the brothers learn that the orphanage is about to be closed down if its $5,000 property tax bill cannot be paid off by the end of the month.

The brothers head to a nearby church as they try to figure out a way to save their childhood home. While listening to a sermon from James Brown, Jake sees the light (literally) and has an epiphany in the form of a Mission from God: the Blues Brothers must get their band back together so the band can raise the money to save their old orphanage—no matter what. Along the way, they meet up with Cab Calloway, Carrie Fisher, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, John Candy, Henry Gibson, Twiggy, Frank Oz, Chaka Khan, John Landis, Paul Reubens, and Steven Spielberg. Hilarity Ensues, some damn good music gets played, and every last police car in the state of Illinois is destroyed.

There was a sequel titled Blues Brothers 2000 (which was actually produced in 1998). The sequel didn't go over as well as the original, in part because some important players (most notably John Belushi) had died in the interim. (The death was actually worked into the film's plot; it didn't really help, but it was at least respectful to Belushi.) Some admit that though the plot wasn't as up to snuff as the original, the music at least was pretty good. John Landis helmed the director's chair on both movies.

"We're getting the tropes back together!"

  • 0% Approval Rating: Nobody likes Illinois Nazis. The cops at their rally were only there by decision of the court, one of them calling them "bums." Everyone cheers when the Blues Brothers drive them into the water.
  • 555: "KL5" on the card that John Candy leaves for Elwood at the flophouse.
  • Absurd Altitude:
    • The Nazis chasing the Brothers are launched from an unfinished highway ramp... fly as high as the Hancock Building... and fall several miles away, just in time for the Blues Brothers to dodge the hole they made and another car full of Nazis to fall into the hole.
    • The phone booth containing the brothers shoots straight up into the air when the adjacent propane tank explodes, with a hang time of several seconds.
    • The congregation members of Triple Rock church are somehow able to propel themselves dozens of feet in the air to perform backflips and aerial splits.
  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality: Everyone knows church properties can't be taxed, but that wouldn't make for a plot. Or a nun on rails. Or the best car chase ever put on film. It's explained that the church is no longer interested in maintaining the orphanage, meaning they likely stopped the tax exemption on the property. Also, there was an actual bill in the Illinois legislature at the time the script was being written that would have made certain properties owned by nonprofit organizations (including churches) subject to property tax. The bill never passed.
  • Acrofatic: John Belushi. The only thing they needed a body double for was the backflips in the church. Big Mack in the sequel.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Burton Mercer seems almost amused at the Blues Brothers' antics, despite frequently being on the receiving end of or having them backfire rather disastrously on him. And he damn well gets into their gig despite being there to arrest them.
  • The Alleged Car:
    • The Mystery Woman's banged up 1977 Pontiac Grand Prix.
    • The Bluesmobile in the original movie subverts this trope. It's a beat-up surplus police cruiser with a missing cigarette lighter (thanks to Jake throwing it out the window after he found out it didn't work), but it can jump over an opening drawbridge and hold its own through several high-speed chases. It only falls apart when the brothers reach the tax assessor's office in Chicago.
  • All There in the Manual: Information about the brothers' background comes from the liner notes of their first album, Briefcase Full of Blues, while fictional backstories are included for the rest of the band members and some other characters found their way into a book written by John Belushi's wife.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: The Illinois Nazis might seem to a latter-day viewer to be a random bit of craziness. In fact those scenes were inspired by a Real Life Supreme Court case (National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie) in which the American Nazi Party won the right to march through the largely Jewish suburb of Skokie, IL. (The Nazis eventually marched through Chicago instead.)
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: After Jake and Elwood force the Illinois Nazis off of the bridge by driving straight toward them and making them jump off into the water, the mob cheers.
  • Animated Adaptation: In 1997, 6 animated episodes were produced (with Peter Aykroyd and Jim Belushi) for the UPN network, but were never aired.
  • Arson, Murder ... and he's Catholic
  • Artistic License – Law: There's two things wrong with the scene where Elwood is pulled over, then chased around the mall:
    • The police who pull him over are State Troopers, not Chicago Police, so pulling someone over for running a red light within Chicago city limits is beyond their jurisdiction (they also go all the way to Wisconsin to arrest the Blues Brothers, which is even worse).
    • The light was yellow, and Illinois state law states that as long as the light is still yellow when the front tires cross the white line, the car has legally passed through the intersection. In this instance, the light did not change to red until after he had left the intersection. Elwood actually points this out, which suggests that the cops (and by extension the writers) just wanted to pull Elwood over and used that as an excuse.
  • Aside Glance: Trumpeter Alan Reuben AKA "Mr Fabulous" does a quick one to the camera after Jake´s question: "Did I ever lie to you"?
  • A-Team Firing: Everyone's a crap shot, except when they're not aiming directly for the Blues Brothers. Vaguely justified with Holy Protection, but mostly played for Rule of Funny.
  • Backup Twin:
    • Jim Belushi filled in for his late brother in a handful of live shows. Averted in the sequel, where he wasn't cast, due to scheduling and contract issues. It could have worked quite nicely.
    • Belushi and Aykroyd currently perform in the Have Love Will Travel blues revue.
  • Bash Brothers: They don't fight a lot, but when they do...
  • Battle of the Bands: Where the band is ultimately headed to in the sequel.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill:
    • In the original, Jake stalls the Good Ol' Boys by posing as union rep "Jacob Stein... from the American Federation of Musicians." He even quickly flashes an empty pack of cigarettes like a badge.
    • In the sequel, Elwood's "puffball bacteria." John Goodman's intentional hamming it up and Evan Bonifant's over-the-top screaming is hilarious, but the rest of the band completely ignoring them is what sells it.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Do not use unacceptable language in front of The Penguin. Taking the Lord's name in vain is even worse.
    • Also, you shouldn't go to a country and western bar and try to play the blues. It never ends well.
  • Big Eater:
    • For lunch, Jake orders four fried chickens. And a Coke.
    • The brothers order five shrimp cocktails at Chez Paul.
  • Big "WHAT?!": The whole band delivers this when Curtis tells them they need to raise the money for the orphanage.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The orphanage is saved, but the Brothers get tossed back into jail. The sheer hilarity of the buildup, however, overshadows it.
  • "Blackmail" Is Such an Ugly Word: Jake threatens to reveal their agent's infidelity to his wife.
  • Blood Brothers: According to supplemental materials, the brothers are not biologically related, but sealed their blood brotherhood at the orphanage by cutting their fingers with Elmore James's guitar string.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Despite the gazillions of dollars in property damage throughout the first movie, nobody dies. Even the Nazis only get slammed into a giant pothole, after falling a cartoonishly long way.
  • Book Ends: The first movie opens and closes with Jake in jail. He's just being released in the beginning and performing while re-incarcerated at the end.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Jake's personal effects, being returned to him at the beginning of the movie, include a used condom.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Elwood mentions early in the film that he spoofed his address forms to show the address for Wrigley Field. Later in the film, the Illinois Nazis find his information and meet up to discuss tracking him down... in front of Wrigley Field.
    • Among Jake's possessions being returned? "One digital watch. Broken." During the mall chase, one of the officers in the flipped police car laments that he broke his watch in the chase. During the pileup on the highway shortly after dawn in the finale chase, one of the officers in the background is heard complaining of a broken watch as he climbs out of the wrecked car.
      • Someone climbing out of a wrecked car and complaining of a broken watch happens in the sequel as well, at least according to the subtitle.
    • In the first film, Elwood's favorite meal is two pieces of dry white toast. He orders it at the soul food restaurant, tries to cook some in his apartment and even pulls some out of his pocket in Ray's music store to try out a toaster oven with. In the second film, the police invade Bob's Country Kitchen to look for the Blues Brothers, and notice the table where they were sitting. One of the plates has two pieces of dry white toast on it.
    • Elwood crudely propositions Twiggy ... then while he's driving like a bat out of hell towards Chicago, we see her waiting at his suggested trysting place.
  • Bulletproof Fashion Plate: The boys' suits. True to the trope, ending up covered in mud signals that their situation has gone to hell.
  • Butt-Monkey: The Illinois Nazis; all of them. But then, Acceptable Targets.
  • Car Fu: Taken to an exorbitant amount in both films, as both contain 50+ car pileups. The first film held the Guinness World Record for most cars destroyed in a single movie (reports vary, but the number's about 75 to 80) for 18 years, finally being surpassed by the sequel, (over 100, as reported by Guinness) for another 11 years. That's almost 200 cars destroyed and almost 30 years of car-totaling supremacy.
  • Car Porn: From an early scene:
    Jake: What the hell is this?
    Elwood: This was a bargain. I picked it up at the Mt. Prospect City Police auction last spring. It's an old Mt. Prospect Police car. They were practically giving them away.
    Jake: Well, thank you, pal. The day I get out of prison, my own brother picks me up in a police car.
    Elwood: You don't like it?
    Jake: No, I don't like it.
    [Elwood guns the motor and jumps the car over an opening drawbridge on the Chicago River]
    Jake: Car's got a lot of pickup.
    Elwood: It's got a cop motor, a 440-cubic-inch plant. It's got cop tires, cop suspensions, cop shocks. It's a model made before catalytic converters, so it'll run good on regular gas. What do you say? Is it the new Bluesmobile or what?
    Jake: Fix the cigarette lighter.
    • To elaborate further, the police-spec 440 contained forged engine internals, including an oil pan windage tray, more aggressive camshaft and stiffer valve springs, high flow exhaust manifolds and dual-snorkel air cleaner, which produced 275 brake horsepower compared to the stock 235.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue:
    • While driving through the mall, Jake and Elwood remark on the variety of stores the mall has. "This place has everything."
    • Happens again just after the Mystery Woman blows up a nearby fuel tank with a flamethrower while the two are making a phone call.
    Elwood: Hey Jake! There's got to be at least seven dollars worth of change here!
    • Jake and Elwood keep up the laid-back chatter even when being chased by seemingly every squad car in Chicago:
    Elwood: This is definitely Lower Wacker Drive! If my estimations are correct, we should be very close to the Honorable Richard J. Daley Plaza!
    Jake: That's where they got that Picasso!
    Elwood: Yep.
  • Catch-Phrase: "We're on a Mission from God."
    • "The Lord works in mysterious ways." in the sequel.
  • Celebrity Star: Many famous musicians appear in various roles to sing their hits.
  • Chase Scene: Several times. The last quarter of the first movie is one giant Chase Scene.
    Mercer: We're in a truck!
  • Check, Please!: Bob's Country Kitchen in the second movie.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The benefits of a cop car prove necessary.
    • A more-literal example, when the Mystery Woman is seen reading the manual for a US Army flamethrower.
    • Elwood falsifying his address prevented the Nazis from finding him.
    • In the second film, you see some wiring hooked up to the ignition of the Bluesmobile when they reveal where Elwood is. A short time later, you ssee the wiring is part of a secondary control method.
  • Chez Restaurant: Mr. Fabulous (trumpeter Alan Reuben) is maître d' at Chez Paul, which (at the time) was the name of an actual high-class restaurant in Chicago.
  • Closer to Earth: Aretha Franklin's character, who tries to dissuade her husband (Matt "Guitar" Murphy) from rejoining the Blues Brothers in both films.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: The scene with The Penguin, who hits Jake and Elwood whenever they swear, at which point they swear even more.
    Curtis: Boys, you gotta learn not to talk to nuns that way.
  • Comforting Comforter: Elwood does this for Jake in the flophouse.
  • Concept Video
  • Cool Car:
  • Cool Old Guy: Curtis, the janitor at the orphanage played by Cab Calloway, who taught Jake and Elwood about the blues.
  • Cool Shades: Which they almost never take off. Flat-out parodied, like everything else, in 2000 when Cabel tells Elwood to take his hat and glasses off in the office. The camera pans to Cabel, then back to Elwood—covering his eyes with his arm to avoid being blinded by normal indoor light.
  • Crashing Through the Harem: The brothers sneak through the window of a ladies' room to get into the Palace Hotel Ballroom for their gig.
  • Crazy Enough to Work: In the sequel, they shrug off a bunch of Russian gangsters chasing them by dumping out a bag of thumb tacks carpenter nails drywall nails, which they drive directly into. It works.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Elwood produces various props that are all exactly perfect for whatever needs to be done, from spare white bread for toasting to the materials needed to sabotage elevators and vehicles. One of the restored scenes (included in every home video release since 1998) reveals where Elwood got some of those materials—from the aerosol-products factory where he worked.
  • Creator Cameo: John Landis is the cop driving the second car that shows up to chase the Blues Brothers through the mall.
  • Critical Existence Failure: As soon as Jake and Elwood exit the car at the end of the Chase Scene, it literally falls to pieces. Elwood even takes off his hat as a gesture of respect.
  • Dance Party Ending: To the Jailhouse Rock, of course.
  • Day Hurts Dark-Adjusted Eyes: See Cool Shades
  • Debut Queue: Goes hand-in-hand with Putting the Band Back Together—we start with the Blues Brothers, then meet every member of their band sequentially as they track them down.
  • Description Porn: The famous scene when Elwood introduces the Bluesmobile to Jake after jumping the bridge.
    Elwood: It's got a cop motor, a 440 cubic inch plant, it's got cop tires, cop suspension, cop shocks. It's a model made before catalytic converters, so it'll run good on regular gas. What do you say, is it the new Bluesmobile or what?
  • Destructive Savior: Elwood and (to a lesser extent) Jake. To wit: the Blues cause what has to be almost a million dollars worth of damage to just the Chicago Police by wrecking all of their cars just to save an orphanage by paying a bill of $5,000.
  • Determinator: Do not mess with the Blues Brothers when they're on a Mission from God, because they will kick your ass.
  • Disappointed in You: The Penguin says this to Jake and Elwood after kicking them out of her office, calling them a disappointing pair because in her eyes, they've returned to her as "two thieves with filthy mouths and bad attitudes",and she didn't raise them to grow up the way they did.
  • Disney Villain Death: The two head Nazis suffer quite a spectacularly ludicrous one after flying off an unfinished bridge. It's not shown if they survive but after seeing Jake and Elwood survive a bazooka attack and their building being obliterated by a bomb, it's not unlikely.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The Nazis go gunning for the Brothers just because they forced them to jump off a bridges into a lake during one of their hate rallies.
  • Dream Team: The Blues Brothers band in-universe, as well as the Louisiana Gator Boys in the second film.
  • Drives Like Crazy:
  • Driving into a Truck: Literally. A police squad car jumps off the side of a freeway, smashing into the side of a passing truck.
    Mercer: We're in a truck!
  • The Elevator from Ipanema: A John Landis trademark, starting with this film. Possibly the Trope Namer. Word of God is that its use here was intended as a Take That! against its composer by Landis. Years later, it occurred to Landis just exactly how much the composer must have made in royalties thanks to him.
  • Ethereal Choir:
    • Heard by Jake when he sees the light.
    • Also heard by Cab in the sequel when he similarly has an epiphany.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Averted(!), and later becomes a full-blown subversion when the Illinois Nazis' red wagon (which actually is a Ford Pinto) drops thousands of feet and punches a neat hole into the pavement without suffering so much as a scratch, let alone exploding. Their green wagon, also a Pinto, drives neatly into the same hole and lands on top of the red one.
  • Facial Dialogue: Jake and Elwood do this several times, for example in Bob's Country Bunker, where Elwood is clearly trying to ask Jake what the hell he's playing at.
  • Faking Engine Trouble: One of the Hurricane of Excuses that Jake gives his ex-fiancée for leaving her at the altar.
    Jake: Oh, please, don't kill us! Please, please don't kill us! You know I love you baby. I wouldn't leave ya. It wasn't my fault!
    Mystery Woman: You miserable slug! You think you can talk your way out of this? You betrayed me.
    Jake: No, I didn't. Honest... I ran out of gas. I... I had a flat tire. I didn't have enough money for cab fare. My tux didn't come back from the cleaners. An old friend came in from out of town. Someone stole my car. There was an earthquake. A terrible flood. Locusts! IT WASN'T MY FAULT, I SWEAR TO GOD!
  • Fallen-on-Hard-Times Job: Most of the band is recruited from one of these, a gig as Lounge Lizards for a spectacularly unappreciative audience in a cheap hotel. On the other hand, Mr. Fabulous has a well-paying job as a maître d', and the brothers have the most trouble convincing him to rejoin.
  • Fascinating Eyebrow: John Belushi as Jake Blues.
  • Fast-Roping: How the SWAT team comes in near the end of the first movie. "Hut hut hut hut!" Exactly why is anyone's guess since they don't go through any of the building's windows.
  • Fat and Skinny: Jake and Elwood in the first film, and Elwood and Mighty Mack in the second.
  • Femme Fatalons: Carrie Fisher in the original.
  • Foreshadowing: A weird case. The reason for the Brothers' murderous stalker is alluded to when Elwood propositions a lady to meet after the big show—of course, he can't make it, on account of the murderous stalker and the cops.
    • The mystery woman is seen doing her nails and reading the instruction manual for the flamethrower she uses later. Also in the scene are three pictures of her with Jake, who's wearing his sunglasses and hat in all of them.
  • Formal Full Array of Cutlery: Jake and Elwood go out to eat at a fancy restaurant and make a show of eating with the worst possible table manners. At one point Elwood holds out his glass for more wine; the waiter tells him "Wrong glass, sir," but Elwood gestures for him to pour it in anyway.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Three pictures of Jake with the mystery woman (with sunglasses and hat, of course), are seen when the mystery woman is doing her nails and reading the instruction manual for the flamethrower.
  • Friendly Enemy: The police detective played by John Candy seems honestly amused by Jake and Elwood's ability to trick the police; he even insists on waiting to arrest them until he's heard them play. Hell, even when he ends up with his car embedded in the back of a semi near the end, he doesn't seem the least bit angry about it.
  • Funny Background Event:
    • The name of Carrie Fisher's beauty salon is "Curl Up And Dye."
    • Also, "Welcome Exterminators" near the place where The Magic Tones are playing.
  • Fun with Acronyms: It's never shown or mentioned on-screen, but there's a very subtle one. Think about the American Socialist White People's Party for a moment.
  • Generation Xerox: Cabel Chamberlain sings and dances just like Curtis, and by the end of the second movie, Buster has turned into a mini-Elwood.
  • Genre Shift: While the first film has more than its share of goofy, over-the-top humor, the sequel goes more in the direction of outright fantasy, including a performance of "Ghost Riders in the Sky" causing the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to appear, Cabel being transformed into a Blues Brother by God, and the climax revolving around a 130-year-old voodoo lady, who temporarily transforms the Blues Brothers into zombies and the pursuing bad guys into rats.
  • Get Out: The Penguin gives Jake and Elwood this after her Disappointed in You moment. "...and don't come back until you've redeemed yourselves."
  • Ghostly Glide: At the end of the scene with the "Penguin" (Sister Mary Stigmata) and Jake and Elwood Blues, she moves back through an open door into a room as if she is floating on air. Along with the other magical effects she demonstrates earlier in the scene, this is the crowning moment of creepiness.
  • Glasses Pull:
    • Jake does this to talk Carrie Fisher out of murdering them. It's the only time in the original theatrical release of the whole movie when either of them take their sunglasses off.
    • During the factory scene (restored to all home video releases since 1998), Elwood wears a pair of transparent safety glasses when he goes in to quit his job at the factory. It's the only time during either movie when his eyes are visible.
  • God Is Good: If they really are on a mission from God, then the Lord must want them to save the orphanage given all the "magic" that aids them on said mission.
  • Good Ol' Boy: The Good Ol' Boys band, and Tucker McElroy in particular. The Brothers manage to convince the owners of a country & western bar that they qualify.
    Elwood Blues: We're the Good Ol' Blues Brothers... Boys. Band.
  • Hammer Space: Elwood's briefcase and pockets. At various times he produces Cheez Whiz, plain white bread, spray glue ("strong stuff"), flammable spray to blow out the police cruisers' tires, and all of the tools he needs to quickly disable an elevator, including a fairly exotic Yankee spiral ratchet screwdriver.
  • Handcuffed Briefcase: As seen at the big concert, Elwood Blues carries his harmonica around in a briefcase handcuffed to his wrist. Jake carries the key.
  • Happy Ending Override: The sequel starts with Elwood being informed of Jake's death, and later Curtis's as well. To make matters worse, we quickly learn that the orphanage Jake and Elwood went through so much trouble to save in the first movie was shut down anyway sometime in between the two movies.
  • Hatedom: An in-universe example; the regulars at Bob's Country Bunker don't react too favourably to "Gimme Some Lovin'" (but they're placated by the theme song from Rawhide and "Stand By Your Man". It's hinted that, being the only two vaguely country songs they know, the band alternates between those two for the whole set, to great acclaim).
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Sorry about the massive collateral damage! It's for orphans!
  • Hey, Let's Put on a Show: To save the orphanage... twice, since the first time only nets them $200 (and a $300 bar tab, which they run out on).
  • Hilarity Ensues
  • Hollywood Police Driving Academy: If the cops' driving were any worse, they would burst into flame as soon as they got in.
  • Hollywood Voodoo: Queen Mouset in the sequel.
  • Hot Blooded Sideburns: Jake.
  • Hurricane of Excuses: Jake's list of excuses as to why he failed to show up to marry Carrie Fisher.
    Jake: No, I didn't. Honest... I ran out of gas. I... I had a flat tire. I didn't have enough money for cab fare. My tux didn't come back from the cleaners. An old friend came in from out of town. Someone stole my car. There was an earthquake. A terrible flood. Locusts! IT WASN'T MY FAULT, I SWEAR TO GOD!
  • If My Calculations Are Correct: Elwood knows the streets of Chicago like the back of his hand.
    Elwood: If my estimations are correct, we should be very close to the honorable Richard J. Daley plaza.
    Jake: That's where they got that Picasso!
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy:
    • The police, the Nazis, the Good Ol' Boys, and the crazy woman trying to kill Jake are all terrible shots. Especially funny in the case of the crazy woman, who's played by Princess Leia.
    • Subverted or spoofed or... something... by letting Ray Charles fire a gun with incredible precision.
  • Improbable Parking Skills
  • I Need to Go Iron My Dog:
    • After telling Bob that Elwood is in the car writing out a (nonexistent) American Express Travelers' Cheque to cover the band's extensive bar tab, Jake says, "I'd better check up, see how he's doing. See, I have to sign it too... I usually sit in the car and write it out on the glove compartment lid." Then he beats a hasty retreat for the car.
    • See also Hurricane of Excuses above.
  • Iron Butt Monkey/Iron Woobie: A rare live-action film example. The boys manage to take a building collapsing on them and dust it off. Their shades are that cool.
  • Is It Always Like This?: Upon entering Elwood's noisy apartment, Jake asks how often the train comes by. Elwood replies, "So often that you won't even notice it."
  • Just Got Out of Jail:
    • The movie begins with "Joliet" Jake Blues being released on parole from Joliet State Penitentiary.
    • The sequel begins with Elwood getting out of jail, though Jake did not join him.
  • Just Take the Poster: One of the Nazis brings a poster promoting the band's gig at the Palace Hotel Ballroom, which he had obviously torn off a wall somewhere, to the leader of the Illinois Nazi Party.
  • Lame Excuse: Jake famously gives every excuse ever conceived (and then some) when confronted by his axe-crazy fiancée as to why he ditched at the alter:
    Jake: I ran out of gas. I... I had a flat tire. I didn't have enough money for cab fare. My tux didn't come back from the cleaners. An old friend came in from out of town. Someone stole my car. There was an earthquake. A terrible flood. Locusts! IT WASN'T MY FAULT, I SWEAR TO GOD!
  • Leitmotif: The horn intro from "I Can't Turn You Loose", originally recorded by Otis Redding, could very easily be retitled "The Blues Brothers Theme" by now.
  • Lemming Cops: Leads to spectacular car crashes.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Lampshaded by Willie Hall. "At least we've got a change of clothes, sucka. You're wearing the same shit you had on three years ago!"
  • Literal Genie: The car chase through the mall starts with Jake being a little vague:
    Jake: You got us into this parking lot, pal, so you get us out.
    Elwood: You want out of this parking lot? OK.
  • Living Prop: Tom "Bones" Malone in the first one. All the other band members had at least one memorable scene. Tom only has a handful of lines and doesn't do anything memorable.
  • Long List:
    • In the second movie, Elwood runs down the list of musical genres the Blues Brothers are capable of performing. It includes just about every genre imaginable (except Caribbean music, for whatever reason).
    • Jake's absurd amount of excuses to his fiancée as to why he left her at the alter.
  • Lounge Lizard: Murph turned into this. Too-Big, Colonel, Duck, and Bones seem to be mostly in it for the paycheck.
  • Mafia Princess: Carrie Fisher's character, possibly; she mentions her father having used up his influence with some sort of criminal while planning her wedding to Jake.
  • The Mafiya: The sequel substitutes Russian mobsters for Illinois Nazis.
  • Magic Realism: The car, the Blues Brothers' invulnerability, etc.
  • The Mall: One of the film's more memorable Chase Scenes has the cops pursuing Jake and Elwood through one of these.
  • Man Hug: Jake and Elwood at the beginning when Jake gets out of prison.
  • Massive Multiplayer Ensemble Number: "Jailhouse Rock" in the first movie, "New Orleans" in the second movie.
  • The Men in Black: Jake and Elwood get mistaken for this after inquiring about one of the bandmates at his ex-landlady's apartment:
    Landlady: Are you the police?
    Elwood: [Perfect deadpan] No ma'am. We're musicians.
  • Metallicar Syndrome: Played with by the "black and white 1974 Dodge Monaco." It sounds like it should be a straight example, but it's actually an ex-police cruiser still in Mt. Prospect Police colours, and the lack of a light-bar or the emblem on the doors isn't immediately noticeable from some angles. This doesn't actually help very much in the end, though.
  • Mickey Mousing: Most especially when the brothers are sneaking past the cops to get to their gig, in time with Curtis's rendition of "Minnie the Moocher".
  • Mission from God: Trope Codifier. The phrase did exist long before, but the film put it into pop culture, and nowadays, using "Mission from God" can be a reference to this film.
  • Mistaken for Special Guest: The band impersonate the "Good Ol' Boys" at Bob's Country Bunker, adding yet another to the long-ass list of pursuers during the climax when both the Good Ol' Boys and the bar owner realize they've been had.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • Jake kisses the mystery woman in the tunnel to try and stop her from killing them, then turns to Elwood and says, "Let's go," before dropping her. Literally.
    • A rapid-fire example during the climax when the Blues Brothers are in The Elevator from Ipanema while hundreds of law-enforcement personnel are storming the building.
  • Motivational Lie: Elwood told Jake that he was staying in touch with the band while Jake was in prison, so that Jake would have some hope to hang onto.
    Elwood: It wasn't a lie, it was just... bullshit.
  • Motor Mouth: Elwood. In both movies (and indeed, in the gigs prior to the movie's creation)! This is Dan Aykroyd's trademark, as a tribute to Jack Webb.
  • The Musical
  • Natural Spotlight: Lampshaded, when Jake "sees the light" thanks to James Brown's sermon.
  • Nice Hat: As with the Cool Shades, the brothers' hats are never removed—except when Elwood uses his as a glove to punch out a window, and when he takes it off for a moment in a gesture of respect for the (very) defunct Bluesmobile.
  • No Ending: The second film ends with Elwood and Buster on the run from authorities; whether they escape is uncertain.
  • No Endor Holocaust:
    • Parodied; after the car crash in 2000, every police officer is shown climbing safely out of the mountain of wrecked cars.
    • An inferred, more straightforward variant happens in the first film, when Jake's ex-fiancée blows up the hotel where the brothers are staying. Immediately afterwards, we see the brothers, and then the cops climb out of the debris none the worse for wear, presumably meaning that everyone else there survived too.
  • No Name Given: Carrie Fisher's stalking killer is never referred to by name. The script refers to her as "Mystery Woman."
  • Nuns Are Spooky: Parodied. The Penguin floats, and the doors leading to her office open and close completely by themselves. And it even gets a laugh from the Vatican, who've called it a Catholic Classic.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Jake and Elwood, when their car starts breaking down during the epic chase at the end.
    • Also when the Good Ol' Boys start firing on them.
      Elwood: Our Lady of Blessed Acceleration, don't fail me now!
    • And when the car finally does die, we get some quick shots of the statues on the building looking down with shocked expressions.
    • When the Mystery Woman finally confronts the brothers following the concert and Jake unleashes his Hurricane of Excuses, Elwood's immediate reaction is to duck and cover in preparation for his presumably imminent death.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted. The Blues Brothers Band has two members named "Murphy" - Matt "Guitar" Murphy and Murphy "Murph" Dunne.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Jake takes off his sunglasses exactly once: when he begs his jilted ex-fiancée not to murder him.
  • Orphanage of Love: St. Helen of the Blessed Shroud, where Jake and Elwood grew up and what they risk everything to save. More thanks to Curtis than the Penguin, though she seems fairly reasonable. Jake really needs to learn not to swear in front of a nun.
  • Overly Long Gag: The car chase in the second movie.
  • Overly Polite Pals: The brothers invoke this trope when they go into Mr. Fabulous's restaurant, taking each other's arms.
  • Parental Substitute: The Penguin and Curtis both function as these to Jake and Elwood.
  • Performance Video
  • Plot Armor: They get shot at with a rocket launcher, caught in a collapsing building, launched sky-high in a phone booth, splattered with beer, and shot at with an automatic rifle from point-blank range and never get wounded. And five seconds later their suits are clean and pressed again—in all but the last situation, anyway, when they go face-down in the mud to avoid the shots. This is because, as they constantly remind you, they are on a Mission from God.
  • Produce Pelting: Although it's beer bottles instead of vegetables. And that's even after they please the crowd! Good thing the chicken wire between the band and the stage is reinforced with Plot Armor.
  • Police Brutality: "Use of unnecessary violence in the apprehension of the Blues Brothers has been approved."
  • The Power of Rock: The original R&B in this case.
  • Precision F-Strike: The Good Ol' Boys' response to the Blues Brothers' attempt to delay them:
    McElroy: You’re going to look pretty funny trying to eat corn on the cob with no fuckin’ teeth!
  • Product Placement: The car chase through the mall features a number of store banners and individual products mentioned by name by the Blue Brothers themselves. But it's such a fantastic and memorable scene that you probably won't even notice at all that you just saw an extended product placement sequence!
    Jake: This place has got everything!
  • Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: Jake's fiancée, whom he dumped at the altar. Seriously. This one packs a four-barreled ROCKET LAUNCHER.
  • Puppy-Dog Eyes: Jake Blues may have executed the most epic use of this trope ever in order to not get blasted in the face by his ex-fiancée.
  • Putting the Band Back Together: The Trope Namer.
  • Real Men Love Jesus: The boys are on a Mission from God, and would like to remind you that "the Lord works in mysterious ways."
  • Real Place Background:
    • "This is definitely Lower Wacker Drive."
    • "1060 West Addison? That's Wrigley Field."
    • "If my estimations are correct, we should be very close to the Honorable Richard J. Daley Memorial Plaza."
  • Reckless Gun Usage: Imagine the prop people handing Ray Charles, a blind man, a pistol with blanks, and telling him to fire it in the direction of three actors, a cameraman, assorted production staff...
  • Re-Cut: The first cut of the film lasted 2-1/2 hours, with an intermission. After one early screening, Lew Wasserman demanded it be shortened, and 20 minutes were cut. Amongst the deleted material:
    • The two Joilet guards come to get Jake in his cell and have trouble waking him up.
    • One additional line from Frank Oz as he rattles off Jake's material possessions.
    • An additional line for the Penguin regarding missions: "I'll be sent to the missions... Africa, Latin America... Korea."
    • Jake and Elwood discuss getting the money for the mission honestly outside of the Triple Rock Baptist Church.
    • The "The Old Landmark" number is considerably longer, incorporating more dance sequences and extra verses.
    • After the demolition derby in the shopping mall Elwood parks the Bluesmobile in a hiding place beside an electrical power box. (John Landis explains that Dan Aykroyd thought this would show how the car gets its incredible endurance, but also goes on to explain that it never did make any sense, so the scene was cut.)
    • A few extra lines of dialog when Elwood and Jake rest in his apartment.
    • When the cops come to arrest Jake and Elwood in the motel, they first stop at the registration desk and intimidate the manager. They also greet Sam, who seems to be known by everyone.
    • An entire sequence with Elwood boosting chemicals from his day job, then quitting the job to become a priest, is restored.
    • After the above sequence, Jake and Elwood study a cigarette box with "the last known address of Bones Malone and Blue Lou Marini".
    • After getting the new address of Bones Malone, Elwoods thanks Ms Tarantino before leaving.
    • Jake has an extra line of dialog while pep-talking Murph and the Magictones at the Holiday Inn ("Now, who here at this table can honestly say that they played any finer or felt any better than they did when they played with the Blues Brothers?")
    • One line of dialog for Henry Gibson is restored for the Illinois Nazis scene at the bridge, with regards to the swastika ("The sacred and ancient symbol of your race since the beginning of time!")
    • The "Boom Boom" number is much longer, with extra shots of John Lee Hooker laughing and arguing with his band. Jake and Elwood watch for a moment then enter the Soul Food Cafe.
    • "Think" has extra verses and shots of dancing.
    • When the band arrives at Bob's Country Bunker, Bob hands the request list to Bones Malone, who looks at it blankly.
    • The "Theme from Rawhide and "Stand By Your Man" numbers are slightly longer.
    • The original Picwood preview included another musical number, "Sink the Bismark", but that footage has been lost.
    • More lines of dialog for Maury Sline in the steam room scene, mostly regarding to the old gigs having been turned into (gay) discos.
    • When Jake fills up the tank for the Bluesmobile, he overfills it and gas spills over. When they peel out from the station, Elwood flicks a cigarette out of the window and causes the station to explode. (Landis now says he doesn't remember why this particular scene was cut.)
    • Before the sound-check Curtis explains to the band that they need to do it for the kids, since the Blues Brothers will use the money raised from that concert to pay the taxes for a church. The look on the faces of the band after they hear it is priceless!
    • The "Minnie the Moocher" number is considerably extended.
    • As Jake and Elwood sneak into the show, Elwood takes the chemicals that he stole from the show and sneaks them into the tires of the cop cars.
    • Both the "Everybody Needs Someone to Love" and "Sweet Home Chicago" numbers are extended.
    • When Jake and Elwood sneak out, the gas in the cop cars tires reacts and causes the tires to explode on some to delay the police.
    • An alternate line of dialog for Carrie Fisher in the sewer when she confronts Jake, about how her father "used up her last favors" with the Mafia for her wedding. In the original release it was changed due to complaints of the Italian-American community.
    • The lengthy climactic chase to (and through) Chicago features many extra lines and shots of racing autos.
    • The "assault on Daley plaza" and the Assessor's Office scenes also feature extra lines and shots.
    • The "Jailhouse Rock" number is slightly longer.
    • As the prisoners riot at the end of the film, there is a brief shot of riot-geared police guards racing into the mess hall that has been added. It changes the end of the film subtly.
    • The "cast of characters" and end credits are extended to accommodate the new footage.
  • Reusable Lighter Toss: Non-reusable in this case, as Jake throws the one in the Bluesmobile out the window after he finds that it doesn't work.
  • "Ride of the Valkyries": Played by the Nazis, no less!
  • Road Block: Both films.
    • In The Blues Brothers, the Blues brothers escape the cops by driving into a mall. Later, they hide the Bluesmobile in a sewer directly under a roadblock outside their gig. They also humiliate the Illinois Nazis' protest—blocking a bridge—by driving straight at them, to the crowd's applause.
    • In The Blues Brothers 2000, a roadblock has been set up; Elwood gets around it by driving under a river.
  • Rousing Speech: Blues Brothers 2000 has Buster verbally kicking Elwood's rear end, followed up by this gem:
    Elwood: You may go if you wish. Remember this: Walk away now and you walk away from your crafts, your skills, your vocations; leaving the next generation with nothing but recycled, digitally-sampled techno-grooves, quasi-synth rhythms, pseudo-songs of violence-laden gangsta-rap, acid pop, and simpering, saccharine, soulless slush. Depart now and you forever separate yourselves from the vital American legacies of Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Jimmie Reed, Memphis Slim, Blind Boy Fuller, Louie Jordan, Little Walter, Big Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson I (and II), Otis Redding, Jackie Wilson, Elvis Presley, Lieber and Stoller, and Robert K. Weiss.
    [Duck, Cropper, and Bones Malone shrug]
    Elwood: Turn your backs now and you snuff out the fragile candles of Blues, R&B, and Soul, and when those flames flicker and expire, the light of the world is extinguished because the music which has moved mankind through seven decades leading to the millennium will wither and die on the vine of abandonment and neglect.
  • Runaway Bride: Gender Flipped; Jake turns out to have left Carrie Fisher at the altar.
  • Running Gag:
    • Lots of them ranging from the obvious ("We're on a Mission from God") to the subtle (Jake constantly checking his watch, which was declared broken in the first scene). There's also the ones in the sequel referring to the first movie, from Elwood throwing the cigarette lighter out the window to all the cops being terrible shots.
    • "They broke my watch!"
    • "The Lord works in mysterious ways," said by Jake, becomes the running gag of 2000.
    • Elwood stealing things (the windshield wipers from the gas station in the first movie; the toilet paper from Bob's Country Kitchen in the second).
  • Saving the Orphanage: The basis for the entire plot.
  • Scenery Porn: This is the film that put Chicago back on the map. Averted though in the exterior shots of the orphanage.
  • Senseless Violins: A Russian gangster at the country fair hides his sniper rifle in a guitar case.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness:
    • Jake's conversation with Elwood when they come to dine at Chez Paul.
    • Elwood's Rousing Speech to the band in 2000 takes this one Up to Eleven.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Blues Brothers 2000 inadvertently turned the first movie into this by revealing that the Saint Helen of the Blessed Shroud Orphanage was demolished anyway, meaning that Jake and Elwood went through all that grief in the first movie for nothing. May also count as Shoot the Shaggy Dog in Jake's case.
  • Shoplift and Die: It's a risky proposition at Ray's Music Exchange.
  • Shout-Out: When Carrie Fisher's character fires off a bazooka, the sound effect is the same as the blasters in Star Wars.
  • Slobs vs. Snobs: Jake and Elwood are deliberately crude at Chez Paul and threaten to come back every day until Mr. Fabulous rejoins the band.
  • Something Only They Would Say: Matt knows Jake and Elwood by their food orders: four fried chickens and a Coke for Jake, and dry white toast for Elwood.
  • Spontaneous Choreography: The crowd outside the music store breaks out into spontaneous dance once Ray Charles starts up "Shake a Tail Feather".
  • Stairs Are Faster: The brothers take the elevator up to the floor the Assessor's office is on, then disable the one elevator they came up in. The combined might of the Chicago Police, SWAT, National Guard, etc. try to follow up the elevator, but after waiting a few seconds they decide to charge up the stairway instead.
  • The Stoic: Both Jake and Elwood are, for the most part, utterly unflappable and deadpan. Except when singing.
  • Straight Gay: "I've always loved you." From a Nazi. Right before the car they're in gets smashed into the ground.
  • Summon Backup Dancers: Though they were often there before.
  • Sunglasses at Night: More like sunglasses ALL the time.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Averted by John Goodman in the sequel, who distinguishes himself from Belushi in his performance and his singing.
  • Spin-Off: Of the Saturday Night Live sketches.
  • Take That!/Affectionate Parody: The scene with John Popper in the sequel reads like an affectionate parody, verging on a Take That!, of the fans and the unease felt by Landis and Aykroyd whenever blues fans and musicians tell them that the Blues Brothers are these really great blues musicians on par with B.B. King or other well known names.
  • Tank Goodness: An M4 Sherman shows up alongside the U.S. Army when Jake and Elwood reach the Assessor's office. Despite being over 40 years out of date.
  • Television Geography: Averted; most of the exteriors really were shot in Chicago, perhaps one of the most interesting ones being that they found a closed-off shopping mall (Dixie Square Mall) and set up some fake stores in it for that scene. The abandoned mall remained abandoned for over thirty more years until demolition commenced in 2012.
  • 10-Minute Retirement: Elwood gets an unconvincing one in the sequel.
  • Thememobile: The Bluesmobile.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: "Use of unnecessary violence in the apprehension of the Blues Brothers has been approved." This line alone annoyed the Chicago Police Department so much that they refused to be in any films for years afterwards.
  • Those Wacky Illinois Nazis: We hate them.
  • Tough Room: Bob's Country Kitchen is a country-western bar with a heavily redneck clientele. When the Blues Brothers start up a show there with "Gimme Some Lovin'" (a blues song, naturally), they're pelted with beer bottles and boos. They then launch into a country set including the theme from Rawhide and "Stand By Your Man", which gets them pelted with beer bottles and raucous cheers. At least there's a chicken-wire fence up to protect the stage...
  • Trademark Favorite Food:
    • In addition to Elwood ordering dry white toast at Matt's diner, when he and Jake are in his SRO hotel room he heats a piece of white bread over a hotplate, and at Ray's pawn shop he gets distracted examining a small toaster-oven, the better to toast his white bread with.
    • He even pulls a piece of bread out of his pocket to try it out. Apparently he just carries white bread around with him.
    • When the police invade Bob's Country Kitchen in the sequel to look for the Blues Brothers, they notice the table where they were sitting. One of the plates has two pieces of dry white toast on it.
    • "Orange Whip? Orange Whip? Orange Whip?"
  • Trash the Set: One chase scene has the duo drive the Bluesmobile through a busy mall, causing all manner of displays and storefronts to be destroyed. The set was actually a then-recently closed-down mall (Dixie Square Mall in Harvey, Illinois) — ironically, the filmmakers never cleaned up the damage from filming, and the site remained destroyed and abandoned for more than 30 years until its demolition in 2012.
  • Traveling at the Speed of Plot:
    • Somehow, despite being being only 106 miles away from Chicago at midnight, and traveling at a high rate of speed, the Blues Brothers do not arrive in Chicago until 8 a.m. or so when the Cook County Assessor's Office is open.
    • So, why didn't the Good Ol' Boys show up for their gig at the country bar until the bar was closed and the Blues Brothers were leaving? They give a Hand Wave when they show up, simply saying they're running very late.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight:
    • People seem rather unfazed by things like someone blowing up a hotel front with a rocket launcher. Followed by blowing up the building the next morning.
    • Jake and Elwood treat the mystery woman's attacks this way. After each occurrence of being shot at and/or blown up, the two simply get up nonchalantly and dust themselves (and each other) off, without saying so much as a word to one another. Only in their very last confrontation does Elwood finally give any indication they consider this unusual.
      Elwood: Who is that?
  • Vehicular Sabotage: On their way to sneaking in to their concert, Elwood makes Jake wait while he sprays glue onto the gas pedal of the Good Ol' Boys' RV and fills the police cars' tires with a gas that will expand and burst them (although the latter is a deleted scene that didn't quite fit the rest of the film).
  • Video Credits: And a great song, too!
  • The Voiceless: Sort of. Elwood was initially introduced in the SNL sketches as Jake's "silent brother." He later sang back up and, by the time of the first film, had graduated to a full speaking role.
  • What a Piece of Junk: The Bluesmobile is rusty and has a broken cigarette lighter, but as a former police vehicle, the innards are solid. It proves itself mightily over the course of the film, only to fall to pieces as soon as its mission is complete.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Jake's murderous ex-fiancée disappears after the Blues Brothers make their escape from the big performance.
    • It's not obvious what happened to the other hotel occupants after the "Mystery Woman" blew the place up. Common sense would say that they all died horrifically, but there's a good chance that they survived since the Blues Brothers, the state troopers, and Burton Mercer all emerged from the rubble dazed but unhurt. The film, however, doesn't let us know either way.
  • Where Does She Get All Those Wonderful Toys: The Mystery Woman somehow has access to an absurd amount of firepower, including a bazooka, a flamethrower and enough explosives to bring down a building. S He even has the military manuals.
  • A Wizard Did It: A deleted scene was intended to Hand Wave why the Bluesmobile can do so many fantastic stunts. The Brothers parked it under a bunch of power transformers, allowing it to get "charged up." Since this scene was removed (and never really explained, even in versions that include it), Landis has offered the following explanation: "It's just a magic car."
  • Woman Scorned: Taken to hilarious extremes by Jake's jilted fiancée, who's turned into a Pyro Maniac in the process and tries to blow the Brothers up several times. Just when it looks like Jake's about to take her back, he drops her. Again. This time, literally as well.
  • Worthy Opponent: Detective Burton Mercer, John Candy's character, seems to regard the Brothers as this. At very least, he is clearly amused by all of their antics, to the point where he's chuckling wryly after the police car he's in has been rammed into the side of a truck.
  • Your Favorite: Inverted. Jake and Elwood order a meal in a soul food restaurant. The cook, one of their former bandmates, recognizes the order (dry white toast for Elwood, four fried chickens and a Coke for Jake) and goes out front to greet them.

Alternative Title(s): Blues Brothers, Blues Brothers 2000