Posts Tagged ‘ Harold Ramis ’

Thirty-Day Movie Challenge: Day Three

Thirty Day Movie Challenge:

Day Three:  Favorite Comedy

Ghostbusters (1984)
Directed by: Ivan Reitman
Starring: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson
By Gabriel Ricard

There was a long period in my life when I was pretty sure I loved horror above any other genre. I still love horror but find myself more and more cynical about it. Most of the movies I watch in that field these days are either classics I’ve been meaning to see or something I’ve seen and loved several times before. Maybe, it’s the whole business of getting older. Scaring me is not as easy as it was twenty or even ten years ago. People become jaded. The fix becomes more and more difficult to score. New horror films tend to be an incredibly tough sell with me. It’s rare for a recent release to jar me the way Jacob’s Ladder did when I was seven (that movie still kind of freaks me out) or The Exorcist did when I was sixteen (for some reason it had a much greater impact on me at that age than when I saw it at nine).

I’m making a point here. I promise. Horror is still a favorite, but I’ve come to realize that comedy is at the top of the genre heap. I’m cynical about laughter, too, but it still seems to come more easily to me than being scared by anything in a film. I guess my compromise with that is dark comedy, because it does seem like I dig an awful lot of those.

Dark comedies might be part of the reason why comedy wins out over horror or any other genre in the end. Horror is a very specific thing to me. There are types of horror films, but only a small number of those types have the potential to terrify the living hell out of me or simply be entertaining. Comedy has a lot more room than that to get my attention. I laugh at a lot of things. Sometimes being aware of that is the only thing that staves off a nervous breakdown.

I’ve had those before, and they’re not fun. You know how it is. You’re in Wal-Mart and suddenly see someone running naked through the dairy aisle screaming at the top of their lungs.

They weren’t always like that. Chances are, they just didn’t laugh enough.

I love countless types of comedy. That’s what’s so great about it to me. I can go in for the subtle, deeply subversive stuff as easily as I can laugh at the broadest of the broad comedies. Those are the films that supposedly appeal to the widest audience and/or the lowest common denominator. Whether or not I like something along those lines tends to rely on my mood and what I need in terms of a laugh. That leaves the door pretty wide open for something to entertain me. Or even reach for something more than that. I try to be open-minded.

My favorite comedy was an easy one to pick. Ghostbusters is the film I have seen more than any other (by a substantial margin), has consistently held up as a great movie for most of my life and even managed to get me kicked out of pre-school (seriously). Somewhere in my walk-in closet I could dig out the original VHS tape (complete with trailers to movies like Starman and The Karate Kid after the credits roll), but that didn’t stop my first DVD and Blu-ray purchases from being Ghostbusters. I wish I had taken better care of all the toys I had as a kid. I’m not big on collecting action figures and the like, but some of that stuff would be pretty neat to have right about now.

It’s a comfort movie at this point in my life, but I can still point out what I love about it. Everything about Ghostbusters is still a joy. That’s especially true with the performances. The story is great and well-told (it’s not lost on me that it has some strong elements of horror in it), but it’s really just a loose structure for the talent to have a ball with. This is the movie that introduced me to people I still like to this day. Bill Murray is likely my favorite actor of all time (occasionally I see a really good Al Pacino role, and a ridiculous argument starts up in my head). This was the first thing I ever saw him in, and it’s been one great turn after another. No one has been more enjoyable to watch through the years. The others have been hit and miss (especially Aykroyd), but they’re still responsible for some of my favorite roles and films of all time.

Forget about the awful Year Zero. Harold Ramis is still a great writer and director. I frequently find myself wishing Rick Moranis was still making movies. I also think Ernie Hudson is still a decidedly underrated character actor. The fact that he’s not listed on the front or back of the recent Blu-ray release strikes me as slightly criminal. William Atheron has become one of my favorite character actors, too. He plays a scumbag so sublimely that it’s almost a shame to find out he’s supposed to be a pretty nice guy. Annie Potts was the first actress I ever had a crush on. I’m not ashamed to admit that.  Avatar was one of the most disappointing movies I’ve ever seen in my life, but it was nice to see Sigourney Weaver prove she could still be so awesome twenty-five years later.

Everyone in Ghostbusters is significant. Even if they’re only around for a few moments to feed the main cast a great straight line or reaction (that poor, poor stupid bastard who didn’t know they were going to be giving him electric shocks).

Most of the special effects still hold up fairly well, too. The music is a mixed-bag. I still love a lot of the instrumentals, and anything annoying in the soundtrack is quickly trumped by the movie replying, “Yes, well, here’s that Ray Parker Jr. song that you like so much, so shut up.” The song blaring over the last few moments of the film makes me want to immediately watch it all over again. I’m pretty sure I’ve done just that.

Actually, my favorite musical moment in Ghostbusters is when they arrive at the apartment building for the big showdown. I think that’s the song I want playing, should I ever be called upon to save the world (let’s hope not—I’m lazy). It’s one flawless scene in many.

I’ve been to New York several times now, and I’ve never seen the famous firehouse. Supposedly it might be torn down soon. That’s a shame. It’s not an important landmark by any means (well, maybe to me), but I would be very disappointed if I never got around to seeing it. Ghostbusters put me on the path towards wanting to be a writer (I actually started out wanting to draw comic books, and then I had to unfortunately realize later on that I couldn’t draw worth a damn and never would), so that obviously places it pretty high on my list of things that are important to me.

I could be wrong, but Murray looks like he’s rocking one of the most sarcastic smiles of all time.

Whether or not I ever get to do something as frivolous as visiting the firehouse wouldn’t change that, but it would still be nice to see the building with my own eyes. I’d like to remind myself that it’s still possible to be profoundly moved by frivolous things and taken from that starting point into countless other directions. Ghostbusters is one of those broad comedies to be sure, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything that claims to be smarter, better-made or more ambitious. I love a lot of that stuff, too, but Ghostbusters is still funny to me twenty-three years later. Life doesn’t have a whole lot of consistency with the good things, so it can be important to hold onto books, movies, albums, paintings, TV shows, stand-up performances or anything else that brings out the best in your personality over and over again. Ghostbusters will always be a part of that list.

To this day, my secret (well, not anymore) fictional dream job remains to be a Ghostbuster. It just seems like a great gig. I have a feeling I’m not alone in thinking something as silly as that. Considering how many astonishing proton-pack replicas I’ve seen over the years.