- Directed by Ivan Reitman
- June 16, 1989
It has been five years and the Ghostbusters are no longer in business but a new supernatural threat arises that they must protect New York City from.
I do not get the hate this film gets. Is it as good as the original? No but it is tough to get two great films in a row. It is a good film that contains much of what made the original enjoyable. It has the same tone in humor and the bulk of the characters return to their roles from the first film.
Maybe THAT is part of the problem. They try to repeat the first film. The Ghostbusters are back at square one with no business and once again on the fringes of whatever field they find themselves in. And once again an event occurs which demonstrates how right they are, and they go into the mainstream because of that. That is pretty much what happened in the first film.
Personally I think they should have taken a page from The Real Ghostbusters cartoon and had the guys still in business fighting ghosts at the start of this film. They could have still done the story that way. None of the elements that occurred before or after them getting back in business would have been changed by them still being in business. The “separate ways” portion just added some padding to the film.
And maybe some fan issues are also because our heroes have kind of crappy lives. Winston (Ernie Hudson) and Ray (Dan Aykroyd) are stuck doing children’s birthday parties with Ray also running an occult store. Peter (Bill Murray) has broken up with Dana (Sigourney Weaver) and is hosting a laughably bad television show. Egon (Harold Ramis) is the only one who has landed relatively on his feet with what appears to be a job at an unnamed university.
People like to see their heroes doing okay at least. Life for returning characters does not need to be perfect but fans generally do not want to see the guys that triumphed and were on a decent path at the end of the previous film in completely terrible circumstances. Why do film makers often do this? Give them difficulties but their lives do not need to be in the shitter.
This time around the Ghostbusters face off against an evil Carpathian wizard named Vigo (Wilhelm von Homburg performance/Max von Sydow voice) and his henchman Janosz (Peter MacNicol). One of my favorite scenes here involves Janosz and Peter and a very old joke. Peter asks Janosz “Where are you from?” and Janosz responds “The Upper West Side.” It’s an old joke that has been used very often but it always makes me laugh.
The humor is still great in this movie. There are smiles as well as genuine laughs to be found. It is not necessarily a side splitting jokefest, but it is an entertaining comedy. You will enjoy yourself.
We have an entertaining supporting cast. David Margulies returns as Mayor Lenny Clotch. Professional slimeball Kurt Fuller plays Jack Hardemeyer. Harris Yulin, a character actor in so many movies, is Judge Stephen Wexler. Bill Murray’s brother Brian Doyle-Murray plays the Ghostbusters’ psychiatric doctor that they encounter when Hardemeyer gets them sent for evaluation. Cheech Marin cameos as a dock supervisor. Bobby Brown cameos as a doorman. The legendary Ben Stein plays a public works official for the mayor.
I did not like the relationship between Janine (Annie Potts) and Louis Tully (Rick Moranis). It just felt forced and rather unnatural. I think they just felt the need to pair Janine off with somebody and since Harold Ramis did not like the relationship in the last film, they decided to force this one here rather than have none at all. If this was about giving her something to do on screen, then make her the researcher for the team. That was generally Ray’s department, but he had plenty else to do or could do in a Ghostbusters story.
One thing we get in this film is “hate slime.” Hate slime in what is arguably one of the angriest cities in the world is a great plot gimmick. I thought it was a nice joke as well.
The script is solid with the humor and story just as good as the original. What this film lacks is its own direction. It does not try to do its own thing or continue the story. It tries to redo the story with slight changes. Everything gets redone with slight tweaks. And that is an issue with this otherwise good film. I like this movie but am irked by the attempt to so closely recreate the exact magic of the first.
Ghostbusters II though is an entertaining film. It has much of the same magic as the original. If you like the first you will certainly like the second but may feel they are going over familiar territory.