Belushi | Chicago Reader

Belushi

The new Showtime documentary Belushi, directed by R.J. Cutler, charts the rise and fall of the beloved comedian John Belushi using exclusively archival footage, interviews from soon after his death, and personal letters, many between him and his wife Judy. This deeply moving look at an American comedy legend features dozens of insightful audio interviews from famous colleagues, friends, and family. The usual documentary fare is there, his comedic genius manifesting in childhood, immigrant family, his early career, rise to fame at Second City and Saturday Night Live, his meteoric film and music career, and devastating demise. There are the well-worn stories of rivalry with Chevy, his outlandish behavior on and off set, and his voracious appetite for cocaine. “John didn’t have a limit,” his late friend Carrie Fisher recalls, saying that without a support group and coping skills, John was at the mercy of his disease known as addiction. Cutler only briefly touches on Belushi’s need to always be boss and the calls of sexism from his female SNL colleagues, many whose work was sidelined to highlight his own and other male castmates’. Personal letters provide great insight into Belushi’s struggles with addiction, as well as his love and desire for greater connection with his wife. While the audio recordings are rough and uneven in quality, they are enhanced with delightful caricature-style animation. Even though Cutler takes creative license, occasionally using animation and intertitles to insert unnecessary commentary for dramatic effect, the impact of the never-heard-before audio is astounding.

Showtime

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