The 100th Review – Ghostbusters vs Ghostbusters II vs Ghostbusters III

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn my 100th review, I look back at the first review I did, which was the 1984 classic, Ghostbusters.  This time, I am going to take a look at the legacy of Ghostbusters, the hated sequel, and Ghostbusters III, the video game.  I’m not sure if any of these sequels are welcome additions to the franchise, but there seems to be an enduring appeal to Ghostbusters, as a whole.  I don’t need to convince you or anyone to watch this movie because everyone I know, and probably everyone you know, has seen it.

As I said in my original review, Ghostbusters is on television all the damn time, and is short enough to be shoved into a lineup to draw cheap ratings.  I think it pulls in viewers because the movie has likable characters and entertaining comedy moments in the film, moments millions of people remember and often want to experience again, if only to see Egon make a funny joke about a twinkie.  Beyond that, the music, the special effects, the setting, and especially Bill Murray give Ghostbusters an enduring legacy.

ghost2But why do so many people dislike Ghostbusters 2?  That film is not exactly a train wreck and has everything I mentioned before returning for the sequel, but the problem is that it doesn’t feel inspired.  I’m not sure about the actors, but all the performances in Ghostbusters 2 are being done again in the same style, but they are slightly worse than the original.  The jokes are a little off or fail altogether, the setting is about the same, and some elements parallel the original almost completely.  Perhaps they didn’t feel compelled to improve a good thing, but I can’t think of any sequel that is as much of a retread as Ghostbusters 2.  Can you?

Harold Ramis plays Egon in Ghostbusters, again in Ghostbusters 2 and he would probably be my favorite character, were it not for the pure entertaining value of Bill Murray as Peter.  Ramis passed away earlier this year and he was in some of the greatest comedies I have ever seen, classics as enduring as Ghostbusters itself.  This list includes Caddyshack, Groundhog Day, and Stripes, all of which are great little films.  His performance in both Ghostbusters films is of the comedic straight-man, but with an amusing twist, which is perhaps the best role of all.

egon1In Ghostbusters 2, Egon also plays the exposition guy.  He explains things and moves the plot, which is about all he’s good for in Ghostbusters 2.  I think you want the guy delivering dry comments like in the first film, but he gets sort of lost towards the end of the film, then disappears altogether when no more explaining is needed.  Don’t get me wrong, Egon does explain things in the first movie too, but there’s just more of it in the sequel, including the whole slime experiment scene that isn’t that funny.

Many people dislike the baby.  Many long-time television shows or movie sequels have added younger characters or babies to appeal to a different demographic, but I’m not sure why that was done in Ghostbusters 2.  I think it was done simply for the plot and for development purposes, but it maybe advanced the characters a little bit too far, so far in fact that we feel bad for the results of the Peter and Dana relationship.  Some people might also look down on Peter for how he has treated Dana.  However, she was the one who kicked him to the curb, married some rich guy, and moved on, so that doesn’t say much for her either, so they make Dana a divorcee to spark a possible relationship again.  It’s a little bit complex.  They should have just had them break up at some point between movies and left the marriage out of the movie.  Of course, the kid was needed for the plot, which inherently makes my suggestion impossible.

vegoI will say that Vego in Ghostbusters 2 is a way better villain than Gozer, the techno-rock chick with an attitude.  Most people forgive Ghostbusters for its Gozer reveal and trash Ghostbusters 2 for its Vego effects, even though he spends just as much time as an absent villain as Gozer does, the painting not withstanding.  When he is shown at the end, Vego looks like goofy with a bloated head, but is it worse than Gozer the rock-chick?  I’m not sure about that!  Did  I just defend Ghostbusters 2?? Egad.  Not Egon, egad.

louis1There are other good things about Ghostbusters 2, like Louis Tully.  He is played by Rick Moranis and there really isn’t enough of him in Ghostbusters 2.  Unfortunately, they add a new character, Janosz Poha, played by Peter MacNicol.  They could have given this time to Moranis and probably done more.  The courtroom scene is probably one of the funnier moments in the movie.

Maybe Ghostbusters 2 gets a bad rap, but it is constantly defended.  I’ve seen whole webpages put up in defense of this film, but the comedy just isn’t as good, sorry.  I don’t know what else I can say, except that I could watch the original many, many times without getting bored, but I just dread a viewing of Ghostbusters 2.  Whatever I can say in defense of this film, I’m really just fooling myself.  Much of the comedy doesn’t work and the ending is silly.  I mean, for some people it works, but on the whole, Ghostbusters 2 isn’t very good.

video1I think Ghostbusters 2 may be one of the reasons the cast all agreed to do Ghostbusters: The Video Game.  They said, yeah that wasn’t our best, so they signed up for another pseudo-sequel.  I have played this game and it’s not bad, has some of the same elements I liked from the original, and I can play as a Ghostbuster.  Well, not as an actual Ghostbusters, as in Peter, but as an original character teaming up with the Ghostbusters.  There’s no babies, either.

 All in all, the legacy of Ghostbusters is a strong one.  For a movie made in 1984, television certainly gets its mileage out of it.  The sequel has more weaknesses and the cast wasn’t happy with it, but people can still enjoy Ghostbusters: The Video Game, so the legacy remains a good one, in my opinion.  I think Ghostbusters will be around for a long time and some people forget that it is a comedy, a funny movie that kids, adults, and even grandmas can enjoy.