Review by Paul Preston
Welcome to Today I Watched…, a series of posts documenting my new challenge – watch a movie a day for the rest of my life. Keep coming back to TheMovieGuys.net to find out what I watch each day…and get my take on it.
When I see a movie that’s a new release in theaters or on demand, I’ll give it a proper review in the “Reviews” or “Home Viewing”, otherwise, I’ll write about it here.
July 17, 2017 – Ghostbusters II
If you’re not taking advantage of an Arclight Cinemas membership, you’re missing out! There are currently Arclight cinemas in L.A., Chicago, D.C. and San Diego and their Arclight Presents series is another great avenue to check out classic movies on the big screen. When you join Arclight’s rewards program, you receive two tickets the Arclight Presents screening of your choice, which is worth more than the price of joining the rewards program in the first place!
This summer, I cashed in my Arclight Presents tickets on Ghostbusters II at Arclight Pasadena. There’s little resistance in finding someone to go with as my wife Karen’s favorite movie of all time the 1984 Ghostbusters (and she’s a big fan of the 2016 reboot). Ghostbusters II will always be the baby brother to the original, not as funny, not as confident and not as refined, but if it’s been a while since you’ve seen it, there are some good laughs to be had.
Plot-wise, it’s always been interesting to my why Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis decided to start the film with The Ghostbusters so down and out? At the end of the last film, they were on top of the world, but the sequel begins with Dana and Peter separated, Zeddemore and Ray reduced to trying to impress kids by performing at a birthday party and they’re being sued for saving the world. I say they have nemesis enough in Vigo, the possessed painting who becomes the new supernatural presence they have to face, leave everything else be. Shaking it up and adding Dana’s kid and everything else was unnecessarily problematic.
My biggest issue isn’t laughs that don’t work, but laughs that aren’t there. There are scenes that move the plot forward (like the scene in the dark room) that are begging for a funny tag line or some humorous capper that just never comes. More often than not, Ghostbusters II gets caught up in the late-‘80s sequels plague of piling on the action and special effects, diminishing the jokes and relationships which brought us to a the original movie in the first place. It happened with Beverly Hills Cop, Back to the Future and 48 Hrs. and it happens here. Ghostbusters II operates too frequently from a place of, “When in doubt – slime”, and it’s not slime we loved in the first movie. We loved Peter Venkman, and he got slimed.
That being said, Bill Murray is as hilarious as ever here. It’s almost as if he walks through the film unscathed by any of the plot’s bad decisions, and we’re the better for that. Try not to laugh when he listens to a woman’s account of her encounter with an alien and replies, with total deadpan, “So your alien had a room at the Holiday Inn, Paramus?”. Nearly everything Peter MacNicol does as Janosz is funny (“Vy am I drippings vit goo?”; “Everything you are doing is bad. I want you to know this.”) and Louis Tully is in vintage form at the top of the movie (“One time, I turned into a dog and they helped me. Thank you.”), but by the end his transformation into a Ghostbuster is unnecessary. Egon has some great lines (the slinky one is gold), but goes to the land of mugging more than he did the previous movie, and that’s where Aykroyd has decided to live permanently (here, and for pretty much the rest of his career).
Overall, there was just a warm feeling seeing these characters again. Once the 2016 film came and went (and really since Ramis died), I knew we were done seeing Venkman, Stantz and company again, so re-visiting Ghostbusters II, although not getting them at their best, is at least getting to see them again, which was worth doing.
Directed by: Ivan Reitman
Release Date: June 16, 1989
Run Time: 108 Minutes
Distributor: Columbia Pictures