Belushi (2020) Poster


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Dark and somber
TaxPayer9923 November 2020
A dark and somber look at John Belushi's short life through the eyes of friends and colleagues nearly 40 years after his death. It won't leave you laughing or feeling good.
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This is one of the best documentaries you'll see about the rise and fall of America's Guest.
Shaun_of_the_Dude24 November 2020
Since my college years, I've studied various comedians on either side of the pond and one in particular has polarised me. That would be the enigmatic John Belushi. But after seeing this documentary, it opens up a whole different angle of the work both on and off celluloid, whilst at the same time, filling in the blanks on the much glossed-over beginnings of John Belushi.

He passed before my time and I grew up mostly on American VHS'... so whilst Belushi had a lot of the limelight on US TV, and moderate, but untapped success in the box office, the likes of Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, Robin Williams (my favourite), Steve Martin and that other fella (whose name ex-scapes me here) were prominent exports on the VHS market here in the UK.

But I always knew of Belushi via Blues Brothers and the Steven Spielberg film 1941 and having researched the US comedic circuit in my own failed attempt, I'd always read of Belushi being a massive influence on the styles of many of the comedians mentioned above. I was never really sold though and assumed that this was all afterthought, and I had always thought Jim Belushi was the more 'successful' of the Belushi brothers, but after seeing this, I now realise that I was sooooo wrong.

But this documentary fuses various storytelling devices and presentation styles to tell John's story with overdubs of colleagues, friends and family who knew him best. You see, I've always had this thing in my mind about the journey of a performer from comedian to actor and the troubles such a move would bring. It's happened to nearly every comedian-turned-actor and whilst this is ever-so-slightly touched upon in this film, the two praxis' are distinctly different in many aspects and the very pressure this shift brings (with fan backlash and critics'... criticism) must play havoc in the mind of the performer.

To my mind, this fulcrum is where the meat meets the bone and you can point to and isolate this crossover in many of a performers career. Nowadays, it's more or less expected that if you can perform as a comedian, you can perform as an actor. And this is kind of true as the industry as a whole is riddled with cosmic famous stars and celebrities who think they can try their hand at all disciplines. And this is true for most, as the industry has changed so much since the days of the original SNL crew.

But this documentary epitomises the 'American Dream' and what it actually takes to climb the greasy pole from ground to up. John Belushi didn't have rich parents or famous fathers, uncles or friends to give a heave-ho and 'bend the pole' for him. He worked his socks off at a time when theatre what theatre, music was music, TV was TV and film was film - nowadays there's a fusion and the landing pad is so much more wider thanks to fandom, super-agents and over-inflated egos thanks to social media.

These guys were and always be the trailblazers and this documentary is the real rags-to-riches (and everything in between) of the American entertainment industry. It exemplifies the toll and turmoil of the industry and through fine craft and excellent presentation, WILL make you appreciate the artistic craft of one John Belushi.

One thing I always think of when watching a documentary of this ilk is how much it would offer a blueprint for prospective actors, writers and producers, and one of the ;newfangled sounding boards' of documentaries which precedes a feature film of such a subject. Much like a primer or pilot for TV.

SO... with that... I predict one Tom Hardy (of Inception, Capone etc...) to star in 'American Guest - The Story of John Belushi' in 2023/4, streamed live in your living room from Netflix, HBO or Amazon Prime. I would write it myself, buuut NOOOOooooo, having dipped my toe in the murky world myself, I know such doors are guarded by more established and well-connected moguls who have the umpfh, financial clout and connections to get their script through the door. Besides, I'm 1/3rd Albanian, British and Scouse and I'm busy with my hair.

But then, there's possibly only one guy who could ever write a biopic on the man himself and that would be the great Dan Aykroyd. By jove... what the world could do with now is a little bit of Aykroyd (and Ramis RIP)... But saying all that... go and watch this documentary and see the raw force Belushi was and still is within the industry in all it's glory and I guarantee you that this overly-long and wafflish commentary will make a little more sense (just a little).

Rest in anarchy Mr. Belushi, you'd hate the what the whole industry has become since your days but would have a HEAP of artistic inspiration to lampoon sir!
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Unbiased look at a mans life.
travinitrav22 November 2020
Pretty darn good. Recommend you see it, even if you never cared about John Belushi before today. Its mostly audio clips with still photos, and these neat little cartoons drawn to match the audio clips. They never do the standard "guy in chair talking to invisible interviewer" and thats a nice change of pace. Loads of never before seen photos and videos, and never heard audio. Brutal honest look at his whole life, not just good or bad. The documentary shares as much of his insights as it possibly can, and also the opinions and stories of friends & coworkers. It never glorifies or vilifies him which is what a good documentary is all about. Highly recommended.
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A Great Doc
dave-8721829 November 2020
A very good retelling of John's story from his childhood through his untimely death.

John in his own words, spoken and written plus the thoughts of his friends and peers. Videos, still photos and animation for the audio recordings of him.

Well worth a watch if you were a fan.
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What John did.
wagtime-5615126 November 2020
I watched this last night and as I was laughing it made me sad. I didn't really know about what happened or how it went down and there's a lot of really good information in this film that I've never heard before and I thought I really knew what was going on. Especially about this guy Smokey. Like a lot of white suburban kids Jake and Elwood introduced us to the blues and to soul music and R&B with their movie, The Blues Brothers, which they made specifically to do that very thing. Without them who knows where I would've ended up. That movie had such a profound effect on me. Watching John Lee Hooker and Ray Charles and James Brown and Cab freakin' Calloway and Aretha Franklin for the first time it changed how I thought about music. Suddenly the bands I have been reading about we're right in front of me. I remember how long I looked for John Lee Hooker "How, How, How" song that he sang on the street there and how electrified I was when I found the album and I could listen to it whenever I wanted. I have the single of it now as well. "There's nothing wrong with the action on this keyboard." John really did it for me. He made me laugh and think and appreciate. This film is really really cool you should actually make a point of seeing it.
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lkgleeson27 October 2020
Director R.J. Cutler delves into the life and persona of legendary SNL and comedy extraordinaire John Belushi with a biographical treatment combining traditional documentary techniques, animation, and a series of taped conversations from those who worked closest with John. Cutler's work reveals Belushi's motivations and his need for approval. Highly recommended!
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A Life in Pieces
jadepietro4 December 2020
(RECOMMENDED) There is more tragedy than joy in J. R. Cutler's sad yet entertaining documentary about comedian John Belushi. The movie effectively shows his life story in fragments, although it seems unnecessarily more hyperactive than the man himself, if that is possible. Audio tapes, photos, and many interviews with famous friends and loved ones are interspersed with his personal letters, stylized animation, and home videos. The highs are there as well as the low of his short life in this well-researched film. (He died at the age of 33.) Classic bits from his films and SNL skits are evidence of his unique talent and make his loss even more poignant as the documentary strangely builds to a powerful indictment about the perils of instant fame, fortune, and excessive drug abuse. Ultimately, Belushi is a loving testament to a comic icon whose legend lasted longer than his brief but memorable career. (GRADE: B)
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He'll always be Jake to me.
valleyjohn23 December 2020
The Blues Brothers is my favourite musical of all time and if I sat down and thought about it , it would probably make my all time top ten movie list and that great film was my introduction to John Belushi.

This is a documentary that uses previously unheard audiotapes recorded shortly after John Belushi's death, It examines the too-short life of a unique talent who captured the hearts and funny bones of devoted audiences.

What I like about this film is that it's isn't a bunch of talking heads , reminiscing about John Belushi and blowing smoke up his arse . These are tapes recorded not long after his death from the people who really knew him.

They are played over hundreds of pictures and Video clips and letters that he wrote to his wife . There is some brilliant animation that tells some of Belushi's story and it works really well.

It's a tragic film in many ways because he never received any professional help for his addictions and that's rare . Even the most famous addicts tried some sort of rehab but not John .

I wasn't lucky enough to see the early part of his career. Mainly because i was too young and secondly, Saturday Night Live has never been shown on British TV . This film gives a great glimpse into the man and how a fantastic talent was ruined by drugs .

This is probably my favourite documentary film of 2020.
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An Oral History
owen-watts24 November 2020
Patched together from archival tapes, pictures, letters and infused with remarkably sharp animated sequences - Belushi is a meticulously researched and intensely personal portrait of a man. As a legacy - it's likely his films will define him better than this necessarily will - but this does a rather comprehensive job of contextualizing him, humanizing him. To realise he died at my exact age now gave the endeavor a rather existential sheen which I wasn't necessarily expecting although the relentless focus accidentally allows his many allies to fall into his wake a little. Poor Ackroyd, poor Judy, poor Carrie. Either way though, a remarkable achievement - and a really beautifully crafted piece of work.
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Good Career Highlights & Interviews; Treads Light on Addictions
LisaLR128 November 2020
"Belushi," the latest documentary about the legendary actor/comedian from director R.J. Cutler, has some interesting highlights of John Belushi's early life and rise to fame starting with Second City to The Lemmings, followed by his fast heights to stardom with Saturday Night Live, "Animal House" and The Blues Brothers, but it felt as though the film only lightly brushed over his struggles with addiction and inner demons. The film does include some good interviews with Belushi's wife Judy, friend and former SNL alumni Dan Aykroyd, the late Harold Ramis and late actress Carrie Fisher.
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Out of control...
imseeg29 December 2020
This documentary is an original way of interviewing colleagues, friends and family about James Belushi, an uncontrollable force in acting, who exploded onto the American tv screens in the seventies and exploded he did.

The good: the way this documentary is told is insightful and illustrative, mixing lots of phone conversations with friends of Belushi with lots of rare footage.

More good: Belushi deserves to have such a documentary dedicated to him, because he was (however short lived) an unique actor.

Any bad? Not any documentary beats watching James Belushi acting in movies and in old tv shows. Simply search Imdb for the few, but great, contributions Belushi made to the American cinema. Yes, it was pulp, but it was the best pulp one could dream of...
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Could this be more Boring?
arfdawg-126 November 2020
Everything about this fiasco is wrong.

It's 90 minute of trebly audio table featuring friends and wife of Belushi telling their side of his story.

The audio is laid over photos and bad animation. It's horrible. Much if the audio sounds like they were tapes over a phone call and the quality is the pits.

The also reconstruct some quotes of John's using a bad actor who sounds nothing like him. This adds to the annoyance.

Further complicating this is the fact that there is nothing new here. No insights you havent heard before. Nothing.

Literally 20 minutes in you are bored out of your mind and praying there is going to be real video.

This is perhaps the worst documentary I've seen in 20 years.
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