short takes (1)

John Landis has taken me to task for a recent column on Hollywood's tendency to overspend. I wrote that director Landis made less impact with "The Blues Brothers," at a huge budget, than with "Animal House," at a far lesser cost. According to Mr. Landis, the bottom line of "The Blues Brothers" was less -- $27 million -- than reported here and in many other publications, including the trade press. I am happy to accept his figure as accurate. He also tells me "The Blues Brothers" is in the black, for which I congratulate him. But this doesn't change my contention that oversized budgets often weakenm productions -- by masking poor screenplays ("Heaven's Gate") and encouraging such vices as repetition, overstatement, and the idea that car crashes are funny (see "The Blues Brothers" for all of the above). Despite its many excesses, "Animal House" at least operated on a human scale, compared with the bloated bigness of "The Blues Brothers." For now, though, its on to the future -- with high hopes and good wishes for "An American Werewolf," the new Landis comedy under way at Twickenham Studios in England. May its laughs be more lavish than its price tag , whatever the ledgers e ventually show.

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