Movie Review: Belushi19th December 2020
The actor John Belushi was a man whose personality and lifestyle exceeded the films he crafted. A stalwart comic, and by all accounts a man who captured the heart of audiences in his few short years, Belushi looks to document a lifestyle riddled with addictions and a larger-than-life expectation of what one man could do. From the glory days of the 1970s and the rising prominence of the comedians that hung around the streets of New York, Belushi has such a huge array of stars talking about how the titular man brought these great comedians of the time together under an umbrella of frequently collaborating talents.
At the core of such great films, the extent of Belushi’s influence as a creative are still felt in ripples through other actors that collaborated with him. Knowing of his personality and his life, how he got into acting and how it was his undoing is a fascinating time. R.J. Cutler’s direction adapts this story with grand animation. We’re shown Belushi’s aspirations, how his father followed the American Dream and the influence that left on the actor’s life. A different side to the man best known for Animal House shows a multi-talented man, working in the music and film industries as much as he could. The grips of addiction soon got to him, as they do to many great creatives, and derailed the rising star.
The encouragement he received to participate in drugs is documented by those around at the time, but they note how it didn’t affect his on-screen or on-stage persona. Most of these interviews talk about how fractured and emotional his mind was. But who isn’t? Belushi is a rather predictable state of detailing the rise and fall of an actor stuck in overindulgence. For those it’s available to, it must be hard to say no. A rather easy statement to make and explain, but Cutler and his interviews take far too long a time to detail the basics. We rattle through his childhood, a marvellous change of pace considering how often we spend toiling through the backstory of so many other documentary subjects.
How funny was John Belushi? This documentary attempts to figure it out, detailing interviews that have been released for the very first time. He falls into the same category of John Candy and Andy Kaufman, actors who were loved or loathed, had bright careers ahead of them, and were taken from us far too soon. For the avid fans of Belushi, this will provide a rather light viewing, filled with information you’re probably already aware of. Spending much of its time detailing the actual meaty details of Belushi’s personal and professional life, we’re given more than enough time to learn of his characteristics. Those of us out there who may not care for his few film roles, though, will find this palatable documentary a little short on interest. More than enough detail, but not quite enough interest.