Ghostbusters II

The most reviled movie in the franchise… until the most recent one…

“Being miserable and treating other people like dirt is every New Yorker’s god-given right. Your 2 minutes are up, good night gentlemen.”

Five years after the Ghostbusters beat Gozer and saved Manhattan, things have not gone well for the team. And they’re about to get worse, with a river of slime and a dead Carpathian trying to take over the world.

Ghostbusters II (1989)
Directed by Ivan Reitman
Written by Harold Ramis and Dan Aykroyd

I’ve always liked this movie. Despite the usual vitriol sent its way from fans of the original movie, the sequel has its charms, though it’s a clearly compromised film that tries to serve way too many masters.

The return of the Ghostbusters – some five years out of business after several municipal agencies sued them into bankruptcy for the damage caused by Gozer – needed to be epic. It needed a villain big enough to forgive their past transgressions and put them back into action. An ancient sorcerer using the infamous negativity of New York City to inhabit a baby so he could rule the 21st Century is definitely a pretty big problem.

The retuning cast are also pretty great. Murray, Ramis, Aykroyd, Hudson, Weaver, Moranis, Potts. They all have amazing chemistry with each other and their interactions show flashes of the brilliance that made the original movie such a beloved classic. But everything together just doesn’t gel the way it was supposed to, the way it should have.

Something happened in the years between the original and the sequel. A cartoon called THE REAL GHOSTBUSTERS came out, capitalizing on the movie’s success and making it even more popular with a younger generation. By the time GHOSTBUSTERS II came out, the cartoon had already been out for three years, and the studio clearly had some ideas on how to build on the success of the cartoon.

They’re all little things. The use of Slimer as a foil for lawyer Louis Tully; a new look for Janine Melnitz. But these little things build up and it changes the vibe of the film.

Like I said, I like GHOSTBUSTERS II. It really is a fun movie. It takes a few scenes to get there, but from the moment the Scoleri brothers pop out of the pink ooze during the courtroom scene, the movie begins to pick up and builds to the climactic battle where the team rigs the Statue of Liberty to walk off Liberty Island and to the museum and smash it with her torch. All the while, Jackie Wilson’s “Higher and Higher” is playing and pumping up the New Year’s Eve crowd that is inexplicably gathered in the Financial District. I’ve worked in the Financial District for a few years now. I don’t recall ever seeing that many people down there on New Year’s Eve.

I’m actually happy a third movie based on this timeline never materialized. The levels of diminishing returns for a theoretical GHOSTBUSTERS III would have likely turned it into a complete and utter mess that would have made GHOSTBUSTERS II look like a classic by comparison. And no, it probably isn’t a classic, but it’s a worthy enough successor to the legacy that eventually led to an outstanding series of COMICS from IDW.