I ‘appear’ before you today in earnest entreaty of your unimpeded attention. I must asseverate your utmost consideration is required, as I shall present to you a controversial platform of argumentation, indirectly born from yet gently cajoled by the recent ‘glide-into-eternity’ of a Hollywood personage. If your interest has been piqued, I shall endeavor to ensnare your engrossment as I channel my inner Perry Mason/Ben Matlock/Arnie Becker in defense of a universally reviled cinematic production that deserves thoughtful re-assessment of its cultural and entertainment value.
Vox Populi, the Prosecution…Kentucky Jay Headstone, the Defense..in…
The People vs. GHOSTBUSTERS II
Whoa, whoa, whoa, Jay. Don’t adjust your bolo so tightly. You lured me with such a dramatic introduction just to tell me you are going to champion this blot, this baneful and bloody scab on the forehead of Bill Murray?! Get outta my face! I could be reading bleacherreport.com right now for WWE prognostications from semi-conscious journalists who couldn’t identify a Wild Samoan from a Fijian Islander if a bazooka was aimed at the New Mexico of their anatomy!
Evidently, the facial contortions of Afa and Sika amplify the odious contempt placed upon Ghostbusters II. Readers, place your pints on the coasters and snap into a Slim Jim; I may not convince you that this movie is a masterpiece – it certainly doesn’t rank with its illustriously innovative progenitor – but I can’t sit comfortably and endure the excoriation this movie has ‘earned’ during the past quarter-century to impugn its relative effulgence in extramundane entertainment. Hey, I’m mirthlessly misanthropic and hate the expression ‘I’m just saying…’ that folks holler like it’s gonna give them magical powers, so…exit the meth lab and play liberal for a spell, hmm?
The Twilight of the Endlessly Quotable
The era of the Endlessly Quotable Movie gets pulled over by Sgt. Buddy Lee Parker of the State Patrol and written a citation. Tremors hits the theaters in 1990, and it’s the pause button on Driving the Nitwits to Homicide With Your Ceaseless Citation of Movie Lines. Tell me you didn’t turn to your friend and declare, “Damn, that’s clever” when the boys faced the Scoleri brothers in the courtroom and declared “Do…Ray…Egon!” Assure me you haven’t watched the New York Giants during the first half of any season without recalling Dr. Janosz Poha’s condemnation, “Everything you are doing is bad. I want you to know this.” Friends, please finish this lyric for me: When there’s something strange in the neighborhood/Who ya gonna call?” If you spilled your Perrier when you leapt from the sofa and exclaimed, “HE-MAN!”, then you really cannot refute the power and glory. The atomic weight of Cobalt is 58.9! There are three million AND one completely miserable assholes living in the tri-state area! Egon is sleeping with the pink slime! You’re short, your bellybutton sticks out, and you’re a terrible burden on your mother! I’d rest my case at this point, but the left side of the body still feels like it’s on the end of a forkful of spaghetti being slurped into the mouth of Galactus, so we progress to…
Nerdvana: The Final Gunfight of Rick Moranis
The sand was cool, the water was clean, and Rick Moranis never turned his eyes from his perch on the lifeguard’s chair. Louis Tully remains the Nebbish Nero-Not-Zero of our movie lives. Last Hurrah for the Mighty Moranis, with the boom-boom-pow success of Ghostbusters II, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, and Parenthood. He had the crown, gang. Then he Blew Up the Kid, played an unconvincing G-man in My Blue Heaven, buried the Barney under the Rubble in The Flintstones, and coached football (no. no, no, no) in Little Giants. With his wife’s death in 1991, Rick left Hollywood and embraced his children, only being ‘seen’ by voice in various animated productions. The top of the mountain is just a point; if you sit, you tumble, and your descent only ends when you hit your gravestone. Yo, Rick, It Was a Nice Fifteen Minutes, Wasn’t It?
Bill Murray is a Bitter Tonic
Every actor craves repertoire enhancement for the resume, but Mr. Murray needed to return to Peter Venkman after the ambitious yet lugubrious The Razor’s Edge. Droll and self-confident,yet moral and self-effacing, Dr. Venkman is the anti-jargon Mad Doctor to Drs. Stantz and Spengler. “Heck, yeah, I love ghosts, and hell, yeah, I’m gonna bust ‘em and send ‘em back to the Brimstone Valley of Southeastern Connecticut where they belong!” This movie proves he best connects with the audience when he remains a minimalist misfit. Post-GB II life has been multifarious and mercurial for the Dalai Lama’s Apt Pupil: Quick Change, Mad Dog and Glory, Kingpin, Larger Than Life, The Man Who Knew Too Little, Osmosis Jones, Garfield The Movie, Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties, Get Smart, Passion Play, A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III. Slippery, indeed. Now he is firmly implanted as the linchpin of Wes Anderson’s Structural Cinema (although these ventures, too, have been uneven, with Moonrise Kingdom placing Murray on the periphery of a cock-eyed yet charismatic young romance, and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou staple-gunning Billy to the crucifix for a near-lethal paintball barrage of lachrymose and ennui)…GB II puts Murray in firm form and might’ve been the last time we said, “There goes my hero”. However, when Superman and Captain Atom tuck in after a long day of crimefightin’, do they echo Murray’s cynical supplication?
If the Summer of ’89 was Voltron, GB II Would be the Red Lion
Gerard Butler couldn’t survive the bloodfest that was the Summer of ’89. The summer was Survivor Series, three months before the World Wrestling Federation’s Thanksgiving Night tradition. The sides were clearly delineated, and GB II was the crafty ‘technician’ of the team. A battle of this ferocity hasn’t seen its equal or even a worthy challenger.
The Epic Eleven: Ghostbusters II, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Batman, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, Weekend at Bernie’s, Lethal Weapon 2, UHF, Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, Uncle Buck, The Abyss, Parenthood
The What-the-Hell One-Shy-of-Dozen: Casualties of War, Pink Cadillac, A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child, Lock-Up, Turner and Hooch, When Harry Met Sally…, The Karate Kid Part III, Licence to Kill, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Dead Poets Society, No Holds Barred
Insight abound from the Epic Eleven: We discover Michael Richards is kinda weird when he romances a mop – Joe Pesci is a lovable pain-in-the-ass – John Candy is scary when chomping a cigar and wielding a power drill but makes the best (and biggest pancakes) in Illinois – Terry Kiser finally trascends his “Been There, Done That” status by playing a corpse with morbid perfection – The Machete-Wielding Madman Hits the Hottest of the Five Boroughs and Makes a Killing (Actually, a Lot of ‘Em) – Steve Martin is Father of the Year (soon to be Father of the Bride in 1991, don’t get confused) – oh yeah: BATMANIA. I was infected. I screamed, “Never Rub Another Man’s Rhubarb!” to Shop-Rite customers when goaded by my brother’s E.L.Fudge cookies.
Powerful movies that have stayed with us and managed to balance the Seemingly Incessant Crap-Fest from the One-Shy-of-Dozen, who offered: Alex P. Keaton in Vietnam, implausible casting – Clint Eastwood as a Rodeo Clown, too irreverent – Freddy Krueger collects a paycheck and swallows teenagey pimply souls in a dreary, unimaginative sequel – Stallone vs. Donald Sutherland, not as psychologically riveting as it sounds – Tom Hanks with a Badge and a Dog, implausible AND hackneyed – Danny and Miyagi put audiences to sleep – Timothy Dalton nearly flattening a franchise – Same for Shatner and the Enterprise crew – Robin Williams’ Dramatic Side, Hairy and Scary and G-ddamned Overbearing – oh yeah: HULKAMANIA. Worst Movie Villain of ’89:
I’ll be fair; I might not have done a great job of convincing you Ghostbusters II should be sheltered from any further put-down. However, you must admit that, as Summertime at the Movies went, very few, if any, matched 25 years ago..
Bill Murray inverted to maudlin self-replication. Ernie Hudson remained the reigning World Champion of “There’s That Guy Again..” status. Ramis wrote and directed prolifically, collecting spores, molds, fungus and accolades. Aykroyd…well, what do you have to say for yourself, Danny?
Can you dig it?