A Tale of Two Musicals
Back in 1998, two fun movie musicals – Blues Brothers 2000 and The Wedding Singer -- were released during the same month. As the world’s most avid film musical fan, I felt very happy about this. Both movies are packed with wonderful singing, dancing and instrumental numbers. So what if the storylines seem a bit flimsy. Who complains about the lack of plot at a symphony concert or exhibition of classic art? These two musicals fascinated me in much the same way.
Blues Brothers 2000 showcases some of the greatest blues performers alive at the time while introducing moviegoers to such exciting newcomers as Erykah Badu and Jonny Lang. The film’s 14 musical numbers feature legends like Aretha Franklin, B.B. King, James Brown, Junior Wells, Bo Diddley, Eric Clapton, and Lou Rawls. Plus choreographer Barry Lather achieves dazzling results by combining styles from Broadway, Busby Berkley, burlesque and traditional concert staging.
Most movie fans know this movie is a sequel to the popular 1980 Blues Brothers comedy co-starring John Belushi and Dan Akroyd. While missing the late (and great) Belushi, Akroyd is still along for the uproarious ride here. But his new brothers are John Goodman, Joe Morton, and J. Evan Bonifant. Morton, a Tony Award winner for the musical adaptation of Raisin in the Sun, reminds me of Ben Vereen at the height of his career. Twelve-year-old Bonifant is a joy to watch as a pint-size bluesman, complete with sunglasses, hat, suit, and attitude.
In The Wedding Singer, Adam Sandler’s character knows what it means to sing the blues after being jilted by his longtime sweetheart. When his own wedding is called off, he becomes the worst wedding entertainer of all time. He belts out an obnoxious song called “Love Stinks,” insults the guests, and fights with the bride’s father. It takes his new friend, the lovely and oh-so-talented Drew Barrymore, to bring him back to his sweet self. The chemistry between Sandler and Barrymore is something special to see here, and I think The Wedding Singer ends up being Sandler’s best movie.
This very funny romantic comedy transports us to the 1980s – a world of big hair, shoulder pads, parachute pants, pinkie rings, and mesh. Although not boasting as many musical treats as Blues Brothers 2000, the film’s numerous songs amuse and charm us. Especially impressive are the poignant “Grow Old with You” and hilarious “Somebody Kill Me,” both written and performed by Sandler.
Fortunately, Blues Brothers 2000 and The Wedding Singer are both available on DVD for our viewing pleasure.
(The Wedding Singer was released by New Line Cinema and rated “PG-13” for sex-related material and language. Blues Brothers 2000 was released by Universal Pictures and rated “PG-13” for exotic dancing and some language.)
For more information about these two films, go to the Internet Movie Data Base or Rotten Tomatoes website.