Wednesday, August 04, 2004

I've come to a conclusion that is difficult and painful for me to even articulate. Those of you who've known me many years will be shocked by this revelation, as it seems to run counter to all I've ever professed.

The thought has been percolating in my mind for several years now, and I've beaten it back every time it threatened to rear its ugly head. But it finally broke through last night.

I was watching the film "Continental Divide" on AMC when I could no longer restrain my burgeoning realization: John Belushi was overrated.

I say that as a fan who's seen all of his films (even the aforementioned and universally-hated "Divide," in which Belushi is wildly miscast) many times over. The news of Belushi's death in 1982 was a formative moment in my adolescence. I still love "The Blues Brothers," and "Animal House"'s Bluto was a great character.

But Belushi was a so-so actor (when he wasn't doing an eyebrow trick), and he wasn't gut-bustingly funny either. Don't get me wrong--he wasn't terrible or anything. Just overrated.

He had an undeniable presence and energy, and he was excellent on "Saturday Night Live," but kinetic activity can only carry you so far. I think his wild popularity sprang more from his edginess than his talent. He seemed like a guy who could explode at any minute, which is compelling.

But had he survived, I doubt he'd still be a marquee star. Instead, he'd be one of the uncles in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" and probably on a sitcom with his brother.

Granted, "Continental Divide" was his weakest professional moment. But this feeling has been growing through recent viewings of all his work. Even when I watch the old SNL's, I realize that while the eye is instantly drawn toward Belushi, Dan Aykroyd was actually funnier.

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