No laughing matter

It’s not like the life and times of the great SNL comic haven’t already been analyzed and re-analyzed. But director R.J. Cutler hits a few solid points as he weaves together previously unheard audio clips recorded shortly after the man’s death, supplements them with clever animations and ends up with a fairly comprehensive view into John Belushi’s all-too-short life. A major contribution are his letters to his loving wife Judy, and her recorded comments add something that other biopics on the subject did not have.

Cutler doesn’t sugar-coat the man’s self-sabotaging and self-destructive behavior, or his occasional insecurity-induced cruelty. It may be a show-biz trope that comic geniuses who make millions laugh commonly find in their own lives little to be happy about. I’m thinking Peter Sellers. Or Andy Kaufman. And while I enjoyed the insights offered here, and learned a few things, I found the whole thing colossally depressing. (108 min)