Saturday, June 21, 2014

Ghostbusters II

  I think any sensible complaints about this movie (of which, in my opinion, there aren't many...) should be about the fact it was tailored to pair up with the ongoing cartoon at the time, which... essentially (in the eyes of more than a few, apparently) made it to seem like a huge toy commercial. Now, I wasn't a kid when this came out. I wasn't even a bad idea. I wouldn't be born until the early 90's. I didn't even see Ghostbusters until I was about... eleven? Ghostbusters II came much much later. I never even saw the cartoon until I was young teenager. The point is, I wasn't super sweet on Ghostbusters II when I was a little kid, and I wasn't around when it came out so I couldn't have been ultra disappointed along with the hype either. So my love for it doesn't stem from biased nostalgia. I'm telling you I love this movie on it's own merits.

  I heard someone else say that the plot is a basic step-by-step repeat of the original. Ugh. Okay. These guys, the Ghostbusters, are basically ghost police/detectives. Now, imagine a murder mystery movie. Something happens (i.e. a murder), the cops find out, gather clues, investigate, then in the climax- the cops run all the red lights to catch the killer before the innocent girl dies. Very few cop thrillers break that mold. In fact, that's basically every episode of C.S.I. and Criminal Minds... ever. So, how would it even be much different with the Ghostbusters? Something HAS to happen to get them involved- they have to investigate, gather clues, and then bust the bad guy. So, the basic plot structure is obviously going to be the same regardless. I don't mind this.

  I mean, sure they reset all the character development in order to retread familiar territory. Like, Peter trying to win Dana over, the Ghostbusters trying to get their business back up, and a pesky government idiot trying to shut them down. Yeah, okay. But all of those things end up leading to some great scenes. Whether or not you hate the movie, that courtroom scene though. Arguably a reason to watch the movie in and of itself. Complaining about this stuff to me is like complain that Rocky has to re-train himself in each movie. I guess that might be a little extreme... but c'mon! This is another Ghostbusters movie! Complete with some of the funniest one-liners and dialog since the first movie. Which is saying alot. As far as things they changed to suit the cartoon... uh... Janine's hair? I mean, I suppose they changed some other things too but... for the most part, if you haven't seen the cartoon, you'll just think it's regular sequel tweaking. Who knows what those silly filmmakers were thinking?

  The strangest thing for me is Louis spontaneously becoming a Ghostbuster at the end. It was pretty out of the blue and was a little too silly for my taste. However... in an article I just happened to stumble across here, explains why this happened. In a series of deleted scenes, which basically removed an entire sub-plot from the finished movie, Louis is doing his usual business about the firehouse but keeps running into that pesky Slimer. Who... he decides to try and 'bust'. So we have scenes of him trying on a proton pack to catch Slimer, and more scenes of him trying to trap Slimer, etc. Yet, most importantly is when Janine catches him doing all this. He has to explain his secret aspirations of becoming a Ghostbuster himself. Which impresses her, leading to their romantic sub-plot later in the movie.

  These scenes were apparently removed because Ramis and Reitman didn't want Slimer in the movie at all because at the time he was inexorably linked to the cartoon more than the first movie. So, to recap, a sub-plot which would've made the movie make 70% more sense was axed because they wanted to get rid of Slimer. Ugh. Not to mention all these scenes were completed 100%, complete with ILM effects, before they were axed. Double ugh. There was also an axed sub-plot that expanded on Ray being possessed by Vigo. Triple ugh. Why did they cut that? Dammit. Having said that, I'll reiterate that the humor in this movie is as funny as the first and in my mind- just as iconic. Not to mention the fantastic special effects, still amazing.
But let me tell you why I really love this movie...

  About 1/3rd through, it captures the essence of being a sequel perfectly. Why do we like sequels? Or rather, the concept of sequels? Why do we get excited about them? Because it promises that the characters we loved the first time around, are back! We get to watch them do their thing again! We want to see our heroes triumph again. Ghostbusters II translates that directly into it's story. Inexplicably, in this one nobody believes in the paranormal anymore. Not even the mayor. This is only five years later mind you. I always felt that rather it being a strange oddity of the plot, it just went to show you how busy and cynical new yorkers are. They're so obsessed with everything in their own little world, the climax of the first movie might as well have been an Ozzy Osbourne concert light-show up on that building for all they cared. Granted that does require some suspension of disbelief but stay with me here for a moment...

  When the Ghostbusters are finally arrested and put on trial, things can't get any lower for them. Yet, the scene takes a turn for the better when two horrible ghosts are unleashed in the courtroom, and the Ghostbusters are given license to start busting again. It's such a great scene because clearly, they're all a little out of touch with busting. Yet here they are, busting. It's the definitive "we're back!" moment. They're back in the saddle, and back in the public eye, the same way they're back in a sequel. The public loves seeing them do their thing again, and we love seeing it on screen. It's such a great comeback, I wanted to get up and cheer just like the crowds in the movie. Yet, hey, if you've already decided to dislike this movie, that (awesome) scene probably won't change your mind. For me, it only gets better from there.

  As far as what else the movie does right, the slime itself is worth pointing out. It's essentially their new enemy in this one, alongside a possessed painting of a murderous mad man who was probably buddies with Vlad the Impaler. Think about the slime for a moment. In this one, it's "mood slime". It feeds off of negative emotion... and this stuff is flowing en masse under New York. Arguably the hub for bad vibes and negative emotions. What a villain. You're up against the emotional state of an entire city. Their solution for this, turning everyone's mood around in the end has to be one of the best solutions ever. I love the climax of this movie and it worked on me as much as it worked on the citizens of New York. I mean... doesn't Jackie Wilson work on everyone? In the end, if you just accept it as is, Ghostbusters II is a feelgood comedy that's also a surprisingly effective horror/adventure. Sure it's not AS good as the first, but the comedy itself is, and so is the acting and chemistry of the cast. I fail to see much of a downside to spending another hour and a half with the boys in gray. To quote Pete Venkman...

  "-I think what I'm saying, is that sometimes, shit happens, someone has to deal with it, and who ya gonna call?"

I dunno about you, but I'm still gonna call the Ghostbusters.
If you're still on the fence, I give you this. You're welcome.

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