Blues Brothers Bash
Super Bowl XXXI (1997)
If there was a prop bet on the number of bad ideas that organizers Radio City and House of Blues could lump into this halftime show, everyone in Vegas should've taken the over.
First, it was decided that the Blues Brothers should be revived to generate interest in a film -- 1998's Blues Brothers 2000 -- that not only wouldn't be released for another year, but would be released 16 years after original Blues Brother John Belushi's death. Secondly, it was decreed that Belushi would be replaced by not only musically disinclined John Goodman, but by Belushi's brother and According to Jim star James Belushi. In a final insult to the viewership, the schedule dictated that not only do the three actors do the majority of the singing during a halftime show that also featured James Brown -- who saved entire cities with his shows and could carry the Super Bowl's measly halftime on his own -- but that they'd only get a respite when ZZ Top played. ZZ Top, which in no way met the blues standard set by John Lee Hooker, the soul standard set by Aretha Franklin or the R&B bar cleared by Ray Charles in the original film.
Couple that with the fact that the Super Bowl was being played in New Orleans -- home to plenty of blues legends of its own and a full 930 miles away from the Blues Brothers' home base in Chicago -- and you've set the stage for an absolute disaster. From the fake Fox News bulletin featuring anchor Catherine Crier to the first strains of Everybody Needs Somebody To Love croaked out by a goateed, lesser Belushi, it was clear that the nation was in for a long night. That was even more depressingly apparent when James Brown's two-minute medley of I Feel Good and Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine ended before the halftime show's halfway point.
Unlike most terrible Super Bowl shows of this ilk that leave the audience with no better defense than changing the channel, this one gavee U.S. viewers a big opportunity for revenge. When the bloated, two-hour Blues Brothers 2000 was finally released roughly a year later, it was not only roundly panned by critics, but widely ignored by moviegoers. The $14.1 million it took home from the box office covered little more than half of the film's $28 million budget.
The Blues Brothers may have gotten the band back together as part of a "mission from God," but Super Bowl viewers and U.S. moviegoers were largely agnostic toward any Blues Brothers incarnation that didn't involve its gone-too-soon heart and soul.