The perception of comedic legend John Belushi over the years has been how much of a loose cannon he was and that he loved partying. If this sounds like a gross generalization of the man, that’s because it is. R.J. Cutler successfully smashes those perceptions to bits and presents an intimate and profoundly personal look of who Belushi was. While some might be dismissive of his legacy as just another legend who burned to bright only to have it catch up to him in the end, ‘Belushi’ outlines how the burden of his immense talent and unaddressed emotional baggage was the recipe for his untimely passing.
By using recorded interviews done by John’s wife, Judy, shortly after his passing, we begin to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of who this man was. She even went as far as to provide Cutler with notes Belushi had sent to her over the years. Those gave us early signs that his demons originated at an early age. What we see is a man who, even at the height of success, never felt he was good enough. Audiences begin to realize just how much Judy was the center of his universe. Everything he did was for her and the hope that one day he could make his parents happy. Belushi declared at a very early age that all he wanted to do was act and create.
What plagued him is that it never was enough. Even during the height of his popularity on Saturday Night Live, we learn through an audio recording of an interview Judy with Penny Marshall; John would often complain to her about how he wasn’t in enough sketches. We also hear about his bouts of jealousy towards Chevy during the first season of SNL. When Chase left, he became the center of that universe, and it still wasn’t enough for him. If anything, Belushi shows how tortured he was daily by this talent he had and how it never amounted to nearly enough success in his mind. During an interview that John’s wife did with Carrie Fisher, she alludes to how tortured he must have been during his periods of sobriety because John had no one to talk with about what was going on in his mind. It’s hard not to take that even further and wonder if he had confronted his inner-demons sooner, would this tragedy have been averted?