Five years after the team of spirit wranglers known as the Ghostbusters saved New York City, things are very different for all four of them. Thanks to being sued by countless people for property damage and general mayhem, they had to split up, and Ray (Dan Aykroyd), who now owns an occult bookshop, and Winston (Ernie Hudson) supplement their income with personal appearances at children’s parties. Meanwhile Egon (Harold Ramis) is conducting research, currently on whether the emotion of anger has a psychic effect that can turn physical, and Peter (Bill Murray) has a chat show where he invites a bunch of eccentrics on to tell of their far out experiences. However, Dana (Sigourney Weaver) has recently had an unusual occurrence and wishes to get back in touch…
It may have been five years after one of the most beloved films of the nineteen-eighties, but that was by no means an indication that the fan adoration for the Ghostbusters had in any way dimmed, and thanks to a cartoon that had been running on television between these instalments there was a considerably younger audience who were geared up for the boys to return to the big screen. But when they did, with much the same cast, jokes, situations and interplay, not to mention the same props, the overall reaction was a rather deflated one, and part 2 never went on to enjoy an identical degree of adulation the first ingenious one did. That could be because we had seen it all before, and done better.
On the other hand, the fact that the original movie is still widely revived on television and home viewing to this day indicated it had attained a classic status, and not some stuffy, arty classic either, the Ghostbusters were someone the average viewer could really support, and so it was that the sequel prompted a hardy few to pipe up that, fair enough, it wasn’t as good second time around, but that didn’t mean it was worthless as there was some value here. That it took over twenty-five years to make another entry would signal that part 2 had squandered a lot of goodwill and promise - Murray was certainly disappointed in it - and that third one relegated the team to cameos while an all-new cast took the title roles, but whereas the first had a timeless quality, the follow-up was well and truly planted in 1989.
Which had it that, for example any would-be populist blockbuster out of Hollywood needed a rap to describe the storyline, or there had to be a baby involved somewhere after Three Men and a Baby had proved that going gaga for the tots was a guarantee of box office success. Therefore Dana now had a young son to look after (and he wasn’t Peter’s, though the father is out of the way and referred to but once early on) so he was the focus of the evil this time around. There was this Carpathian warlord in a painting at the museum where she works, and he wants to be brought back to life by possessing the infant Oscar which he will do by creating negative vibes throughout New York City with the help of pink ectoplasm that is running through the sewers, and the worse people treat one another the more powerful this evil becomes.
The joke being that New Yorkers are not known for their even temperament, rendering it the ideal place for conjuring up nasties based on their aggression and bad behaviour. Not a very funny joke, and sounding like it had been dreamt up by one of the therapists of the writing or directing team, but luckily for laughs there remained some decent one-liners from the old reliables, Murray in particular going above and beyond the call of duty to secure some welcome chuckles, and Rick Moranis may have been overdoing the nerd persona, but he was too talented not to make a hash of the part. The effects budget had obviously been lavish, so we had a walking Statue of Liberty in place of the Marshmallow Man, but it was a goodie, indicating the reliance on forced uplift in the tone of the thing. That the climax was set on New Year’s Eve told us the optimism of that night would see us through, and not that getting hammered on drink because we couldn’t face the next twelve months was the reason we were celebrating, but as it was the Ghostbusters you thought, what the heck, we’ll allow it. Music by Randy Edelman.
Even as a kid this struck me as a trifle uninspired though good fun nonetheless with some neat ideas and that priceless Bill Murray sarcasm. I always thought the set-up had huge potential as five years on the Ghostbusters are established as pop culture relics forgotten by an ungrateful city. I hope the new movie does something with that. Apparently we have David Putnam to thank for the lengthy delay between films. Bill Murray too umbrage at a speech Putnam gave citing him as an example of a money-grubbing Hollywood hack. Putnam was way off base! I often wonder what he made of Bill Murray's later renaissance as a semi-art film star?
31 Dec 2015
Yes, Puttnam's tenure at Columbia was disastrous, he thought they should be making more films like The Last Emperor, though I bet if you took a poll more people prefer Ghostbusters.