When the John Belushi biopic “Wired” came out in August 1989, with actor Michael Chiklis as the Wheaton-born king of comedy, it was essentially dead on arrival.
Perhaps the fact that producers were hard-pressed to find a distributor should have served as an early warning.
Ticket sales tanked (it grossed roughly $1.1 million domestically), critics carped and Belushi’s family and friends — who’d boycotted journalist Bob Woodward’s same-named 1984 best seller upon which the film was loosely based — made their extreme displeasure known. Chiklis, for his part, was temporarily shunned by the show business community. “Everyone was afraid to touch me for fear of reprisal,” he told Cigar Aficionado magazine a decade later.
Sun-Times movie critic Roger Ebert gave the ill-fated flick a measly 1-½ stars (out of four). “Wired,” he wrote, was “such an ungainly and hapless movie, so stupidly written, so awkwardly directed and acted, that it never gets off the ground.
“There should be, at some point in a movie like this,” Ebert went on, “a moment when we have the illusion that we are seeing the real John Belushi, that we are eavesdropping on the facts of his life. That moment never comes.”