Two Cents Rings in the New Year with GHOSTBUSTERS II

 

Two Cents
Two Cents is an original column akin to a book club for films. The Cinapse team will program films and contribute our best, most insightful, or most creative thoughts on each film using a maximum of 200 words each. Guest writers and fan comments are encouraged, as are suggestions for future entries to the column. Join us as we share our two cents on films we love, films we are curious about, and films we believe merit some discussion.

The Pick

Happy New Year!

Let’s all breathe a sigh of relief! This terrible freaking year is over, and we’re celebrating by watching the movie that until very recently was the black sheep in its franchise, the New Years-themed Ghostbusters II!

The circus of opinions regarding the 2016 Ghostbusters remake has mined a lot of weird territory, with some discussers inexplicably re-evaluating the original films as overrated/not great/too dated/offensive/crap, in order to bolster their arguments (or clickbait). That’s frankly a lot of nonsense, and we’re putting it to the test.

Did you get a chance to watch along with us this week? Want to recommend a great (or not so great) film for the whole gang to cover? Comment below or post on our Facebook or hit us up on Twitter!

Next Week’s Pick:

With Martin Scorsese entrancing and confounding audiences with his new film Silence, we’ve decided to celebrate the new year with one of his recent, underrated efforts: Hugo. Newly added to Netflix Instant, Hugo is a children’s film about the importance of art preservation. There are also robots, train crashes, World War II and a poodle.

So give it a watch and give us a shout!

Would you like to be a guest in next week’s Two Cents column? Simply watch and send your under-200-word review to twocents(at)cinapse.co!

Our Guests

Kieran Fisher:I’ve never quite understood the hate for Ghostbusters II. That said, I’m not exactly the biggest fan of the first film either – it’s a good movie I like to revisit from time to time, but I’m not a diehard fan like some. Granted, Ghostbusters is a superior movie that stands the test of time far better than its 1989 follow-up. But as far as sequels go I think this is serviceable, even if a little flat and uninspired.

A part of my mild appreciation of Ghostbusters II lies in its villains; I’ve always found Vigo the Carpathian to be quite a chilling villain (which might be partly due to actor Norbert Grupe’s inherent meanness and imposing, vicious appearance in general). Furthermore, it has the Nanny ghost, which is the creepiest spook in the entire franchise outside of the librarian in the opening scenes of its predecessor. These good elements sprinkled throughout lift it somewhat, from what is otherwise a reasonably enjoyable slice of comedic scare fare.

It’s a shame the original Ghostbusters franchise didn’t have more than one sequel, because it’s a universe with a lot of potential for entertaining, fantasy storytelling. Let’s hope Sony gives the planned reboot series another chance someday. (@HairEverywhere)

Trey Lawson:“On a mountain of skulls, in the castle of pain, I sat on a throne of blood! What was will be! What is will be no more! Now is the season of evil!”

No, that’s not just a clever description of 2016 – it’s one of the most memorable lines from Ghostbusters II! I know it’s cool to hate on this sequel, but it’s really not as bad as its reputation. Yes, the ensemble is far less balanced than in the previous film, but in spite of that there is still plenty of fun to be had. Harold Ramis’s performance as Egon remains the best part of the original Ghostbusters films. Seriously. He’s the heart and soul of the series and I will fight anyone who disagrees. To that end while Bill Murray definitely claims the most screen time, to the detriment of his costars, Ramis still gets in some hilarious lines. Vigo the Carpathian is a suitably creepy villain, and even Peter MacNicol is fun as Janosz, the vaguely Eastern European second banana baddie. That said, it’s a crime that Ernie Hudson never got more to do in these movies. Winston never quite feels like the equal partner he should be. Honestly my least favorite part of the film is the suggestion that Janine and Louis hook up. It just doesn’t work for me on a character level, nor does it really pay off in any meaningful way. Even with those issues, and a bit of a dodgy middle act, Ghostbusters II finishes strong – to this day whenever I hear “Higher and Higher” my thoughts turn immediately to the Statue of Liberty.

Ghostbusters II is not the original film, but on its own terms it is a fun (if slightly inconsistent) followup. (@T_Lawson)

Brendan Agnew:Ghostbusters II almost reads like a film made on a dare to see exactly how far a sequel could go on goodwill and baked-in cast chemistry alone. Almost. Like, apart from the way it DEFINITELY reads like a movie basically everyone made for a paycheck.

Now, I’m not here to bury ‘Busters II or to praise it. It’s… fine. It’s not a patch on the original, it’s not as good or pointed as the recent reboot, and it’s genuinely frustrating that a film that had built-in near-limitless potential for expanding on its own mythology as well as dealing with the comedic view of the ramifications of an entire world learning that there is – probably – life after death decided to simply press the reset button and make the first movie all over again. Even aside from the contortions you have to twist your brain into to accept that no one believes the ‘Busters just 5 years after a 100-foot marshmallow main trashed downtown Manhattan, it just seems like a huge wasted opportunity.

And yet, there’s some decent lemonade to be found here. The cast still works beautifully together, the visualization of the series’ magic/science goofery is on-point as ever, there are a couple legitimate scares (bathtubs, man – never again), and there are a lot of good jokes hidden in the folds (“Do-Re-Egon!” is gold, you guys. GOLD). The story might be a wash, but there are plenty of solid gags.

You could definitely find worse ways to spend your New Year’s Eve. But you might also not feel great about it in the morning. (@BLCAgnew)

The Team

Austin:Ghostbusters hit in 1984, and its sequel followed 5 years later, but there’s a huge piece of franchise history in-between (and beyond). Animated TV classic The Real Ghostbusters began airing in 1985. For countless young viewers, including this one, the cartoon was a gateway into the franchise. Doubtless, when Ghostbusters II was announced, a contingent of its audience didn’t even know there was a first one.

For viewers my age, it wasn’t a disappointing sequel – it was a chance to see the Ghostbusters on the big screen in a huge, fun movie with a lot of memorable moments: the Statue of Liberty, an NES controller gag, a rap-filled soundtrack, and tons of pink slime! Years later, my affection for the film has never wavered.

Nostalgia? No, I don’t think so. I think most of the criticism lobbed at it can be summed up as “it’s not the first one”. It holds up marvelously, and I may even like it more now – I used to find dopey villain Janosz (Peter MacNicol) kind of grating, but now he just cracks me up.

My main gripe is the diminished role of Louis Tully (Rick Moranis). With Janosz replacing him as the dopey goofball, Louis gets upgraded to sidekick – but in truth, it’s a smaller role that offers him a lot less dialogue. That’s a bummer since he’s the funniest character in the first film with his trademark prattle, but at least he gets a cool hero moment in the film’s climax. (@VforVashaw)

Justin:Often looked down upon as a crappy follow up to a brilliant comedy, Ghostbusters II is a hilarious and perfect sequel in so many ways. While the first sets up the amazing premise, develops the main characters, and is ultimately the better film, II features funnier jokes, Jackie Wilson, and Janosz delivering the line, “Command me, Lord” (this line never ceases to engender a hearty audible laugh, despite seeing the film easily 20 or more times). In fact, I’d argue that I may actually enjoy revisiting this installment most. Nostalgia may play a role in this, as I did see this film in the theater as a youngster, but either way I certainly love this movie.

I honestly can’t think of a better way to ring in the New Year than revisiting this underappreciated classic with a nice pint of beer and some good company. So, spray down a group of friends with some positively charge mood slime and strap in to battle Vigo the Carpathian one last time before we sing “Auld Lang Syne” and usher in 2017. (@thepaintedman)

Frank: Ghostbusters II has taken a lot of flak over the years, particularly from one of its stars, who feel the film is just a copy of the original. This is hardly the case. If anything, the film works as an extension of the first movie, retaining everything good about first Ghostbusters and carrying it into what happens to be quite a worthy sequel. There’s the always-popping banter between the funny leads, the surprisingly intriguing love story between Venkman and Dana and the overall tribute to New York City.

Best of all however are the film’s special effects, which are delightfully amped up from the first film. While the effects in the first Ghostbusters were impressive, the ones in the second were far more creative. The creepy flying nanny haunts me as much now as it did then, the mink coat which comes to life is hilarious and only something as grandiose as taking the statue of liberty for a walk down central Manhattan could top the idea of the stay-puff marshmallow man. Finally, the concept of a pink slime embodying rage and evil taking over the city was a great metaphor for New York at the time. Even if it may have been a little on the nose, it was the kind of ideology the Ghostbusters movies did so well and shows why BOTH films remain classics to this day. (@frankfilmgeek)

Brendan: I’ve thrown my share of barbs at this film, and in fact for a long time it was my go-to example for ‘cash-in, poorly thought out sequel’, mostly because I’m always forgetting that there’s a fucking Caddyshack 2. But I was pleasantly surprised to see that the film is not without many charms, if only the ongoing chemistry between the ‘Busters.

THAT SAID, Ghostbusters II still earns my ire for the absolutely idiotic decision to essentially retcon the third act of the original film and return the guys to being broke hustlers that no one respects. A GIANT FUCKING MARSHMALLOW MAN RAMPAGED THROUGH NEW YORK CITY AND WAS EXPLODED and yet Ghostbusters II expects us to believe that everyone went right back to assuming the guys are frauds and hustlers. It’s an irritating, vaguely insulting choice that pissed me off when I was ten and pisses me off to this day.

But there’s still plenty of charm to be found in this world and this cast, and it remains a true bummer that they could never get their act together for one last go-round. (@TheTrueBrendanF)

Did you all get a chance to watch along with us? Share your thoughts with us here in the comments or on Twitter or Facebook!

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the author

Austin Vashaw is a technology and new media professional in Overland Park, KS (a Kansas City 'burb). Film yakker, wisecracker, tact lacker, and BK Stacker snacker; lover of photography, Victorian literature, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. @VforVashaw | letterboxd.com/VforVashaw