Premiering tonight on Showtime is director R.J. Cutler’s documentary BELUSHI, about the life of the legendary comedian/actor John Belushi.
An intimate portrait of the late icon as told through archival footage, first person interviews and letters written by Belushi himself, the film highlights the actor’s childhood, through his meteoric rise and to his tragic and untimely death at the age of 33.
Although the film touches on things that the average person knows about Belushi’s life, like the struggle with substance abuse that preceded his overdose, it delves deeper into his psyche with intimate notes – graciously provided by his widow Judy Belushi Pisano, along with never before heard audio also shared by Pisano and author/biographer Tanner Colby.
“Belushi” also provides interesting facts about the star that highlight his upbringing, like him feeling like an outsider due to his Albanian heritage – and his father’s embarrassment at his accent, which ironically led to one of Belushi’s biggest skits from his SNL days (Cheeseburger, Cheeseburger). Or the star’s multi-talent as a high school sports star and leader of his music band, and his achievement of becoming homecoming king due to his overwhelming popularity despite his discomfort.
Filled with interesting audio/interviews from celebrity friends – like Dan Aykroyd, brother Jim Belushi, Lorne Michaels, and the late Carrie Fisher, Penny Marshall and Harold Ramis – all sharing stories and unique anecdotes of the titular star, “Belushi” depicts a man with a rare talent – who was both extremely kind and equally troubled.
And I am always a fan of hearing things “from the horse’s mouth,” and the documentary does a great job at presenting his life with a predominance of info from Belushi himself.
I also enjoyed the use of Robert Valley’s animation, which gives an added layer of personality to the storytelling and really captures Belushi’s expressions quite nicely.
At 108 minutes, BELUSHI is a quick and compelling study of a man who many know of, but not many knew. I rate it 3.5 out of 5 beats on the MMTrometer.
Until next thought, Thomasena