This time, something odd happened. My opinion on this movie completely changed as I watched it.
I went into this movie thinking "It's not good, but it's not terrible." And now? Well, you'll just have to read and find out.
|Don't worry, you'll probably figure out how I feel about this movie in no time.|
As a consumer of media for over twenty years, I can tell you right now that time skips suck more than an industrial-strength vacuum. Time skips are the devil. Time skips guarantee that everything you liked in the last installment will be undone. Teams will be disbanded. Friends will drift apart. Characters will die off or be replaced. Romantic couples will break up.
In short, screw time skips for undoing everything we've ever loved.
Anyway, some kind of pink slime is seeping forth from beneath the sidewalks of New York. A woman gets some on the wheel of her baby carriage as she walks home amidst New Yorkers generally treating each other like garbage. Well, that's not exactly true. Garbage doesn't usually get yelled at.
The woman is Dana Barrett, played once again by Sigourney Weaver. She has a baby. Spoiler alert, Venkman isn't the father. Already, the world as I know it is crumbling before my eyes.
She stops to talk to the building superintendent about the radiator in her baby's room, completely oblivious to the fact that the carriage is about to speed off. And as she looks over at it, it does just that.
It's during this sequence that a few things are made clear.
- The baby's name is "Oscar."
- Some supernatural force seems to be guiding him safely through traffic.
- People in New York are such jerks that they won't even try to stop a runaway baby carriage.
In fact, that might be the case; whatever supernatural force is at work doesn't want to see Oscar harmed, because it stops right before a bus comes zooming by.
|Oh, and nobody stops to help the screaming woman on the ground, either. What the heck, New York?|
Elsewhere in the city, the Ecto-1 is driving along to the next job for Ghostbusters Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) and Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson). Once there, they get down to business.
Ray: "How many of them are there?"
Woman: "Fourteen. They're in here. I hope you can handle it, it's been like a nightmare."
Winston: "How big are they?"
Woman: "Mmmm... four feet."
But they're not here to bust ghosts, they're here to placate that which the people of New York won't lift a finger to save. Children. That's right, our boys are now party entertainment.
|"I shaved off my mustache for this?"|
Ghostbusters: "If there's something strange! In the neighborhood! Who ya gonna call?"
Yeah, like that doesn't date this movie. Especially since Filmation went out of business the year this movie was released.
After the party, they split the money and leave. Ray seems to be pretty okay with these gigs. Or maybe he's dead inside. Winston, on the other hand, wants to be done with the party circuit.
Winston: "Ray, man, face it. Ghostbusters doesn't exist. A year from now, those kids won't even remember who we are."
Ray: "Ungrateful little yuppie larvae. After all we did for this city."
Winston: "Yeah. We conjured up a hundred-foot marshmallow man...'
|"Nah, I'll admit, that was mostly me."|
Ray: "Yeah. But what a ride."
That's right, everybody! Just as the screen went black and the credits rolled, last movie's happy ending was undone! And honestly, that doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing. If done properly, they could have done that as a funny, if not brilliant, parody of happy endings. As it is, it's not funny. It's not parody. It's just.... bleak. And sad. And... kind of stupid.
For the sake of argument, I’ll concede that nobody but the Ghostbusters were actually on that roof while stuff was going down. Fine. But as Winston points out, they conjured up a hundred-foot marshmallow man. How do you explain a fluffy, sugary kaiju walking down the street? Even if people believed Walter Peck’s smear campaign, saying that it was simply a chemically-induced hallucination, how did the Ghostbusters manage to affect the entire city to make them see ghosts flying around and a giant marshmallow man? It’s very doubtful that a whole city full of people could have the exact same hallucination. And when all was said and done, there was marshmallow fluff everywhere
|Where did the fluff come from, Peck? Go ahead, tell me. Where?|
|You're telling me this wasn't newsworthy? Nobody took a picture? Nothing?|
|Thanks for the perfect summary, Doctor.|
Dana: "What are you working on, Egon?"
Egon: "We're trying to determine whether or not human emotions actually affect the physical environment."
They don't. I have an analysis prepared about how the change from paranormal pseudoscience to thoroughly disproven ideas changes the tone from the first movie... but if I did that every time something changed the tone like that, you'd be reading this all day. I'll save it all for the end.
Anyway, Egon has two people in a room who think they're there for marriage counseling. They've been yelling at each other for two and a half hours while Egon has been increasing the temperature of the room to 95 degrees, which I'm pretty sure is illegal and unethical.
|If he ever put his mind to actual science, I think he could rival Lex Luthor.|
Dana: "How is he these days?"
Egon: "Peter? Well, he was borderline for a while. Then he crossed the border."
Dana explains that they didn't part on good terms, and they lost track of each other after she got married. Yeah, we can just chalk that up as another thing that Ghostbusters II is demolishing for us.
Egon scans the director's daughter while she plays with a puppy as Dana gives him her number and a kiss as thanks.
Egon: "Let's see what happens when we take away the puppy."
Aw, geez. Egon's turned to the dark side.
We then cut to what Peter (Bill Murray) has been doing lately; he's got a show called "World of the Psychic." Today, he's got a couple of guests, one of whom has a new book called The End of the World. And he's on the show to tell them that the world will end at the stroke of midnight, this New Year's Eve.
Peter: "Well, that's cutting it a little bit close, isn't it? I mean, just from a sales point of view. I mean, your book is just coming out, you're not gonna see any paperback sales for at least a year.... It'll be at least another year before you know whether you've got that miniseries, or movie of the week kind of possibilities."
|"Actually, I had a cartoon deal with Filmation."|
"Yeah, well, that kind of proves that you can't see the future."
As I've mentioned before, my dad's a teacher. About a decade ago, one of his former students... let's call this guy "Dante." Anyway, Dante gave my dad a book. Dante told my dad that it changed his life. Dante married his girlfriend and set his affairs in order because he was a passionate believer in the book's contents.
The book was called 2008: God's Final Witness, by Ronald Weinland.
According to the book, the world would end at the end of 2008 after the United States ceased to exist following some kind of uprising in the Middle East, or something. And at the stroke of midnight, Jesus Christ himself would appear to usher all the righteous to Heaven!
The book was published in 2007, which means that Peter Venkman would probably give the same advice to ol' Ronald Weinland. Lo and behold, 2009 came, and guess what? The world didn't end. In fact, we've had a couple other fake end-of-the-world prophecies to deal with since then, including the latest one with the blood moons, or something? I don't know, all the doomsday predictions have started to blend together for me at this point.
Look, the world will end someday. That's just a fact.
|Other than The Never-Ending Story, of course.|
Speaking of women, Peter's other guest is a woman who claims that she actually knows when the world will end. You know, the fact that none of these so-called "psychics" can agree on when the end of the world will strike is another reason to dismiss their claims.
Elaine: "According to my source, the end of the world will be on February 14th, in the year 2016."
Peter: "Valentine's Day. Bummer."
How come the internet's not trying to turn this into a thing like we did with October 21, 2015? Come on, people, there's still a few days!
Elaine then goes on to recount the story of how an alien bought her a drink and took her back to his room at the Holiday Inn, where he told her about the end of the world. Though she admits that it might have been a room on his spaceship made up to look like a room at the Holiday Inn.
Peter: "And that is the whole problem with aliens, is you just can't trust 'em."
|Yeah, Superman's giving you the stink-eye, too, Peter.|
"Starman"? What, are we talking Prince Gavyn, or Jeff Bridges?
Peter: "But usually, they turn out to be some kind of big lizard!"
I bet Dana told him stories about all those times she fought aliens in space.
Peter signs off and goes into the network offices to complain about his quality of guests.
Norman: "Look, no respected psychic will come on the show. They think you're a fraud."
It's okay, so were your guests today.
Suddenly, the mayor walks by, talking to the press. Peter tries to have a little chat with the guy, but gets pushed aside by his aide, played by Kurt Fuller.
|"Hello, my name is Jack Hardemeyer, I will be your bargain basement Walter Peck for the movie."|
Peter: "Well, that's why I wanted to talk with his highness. See, we did a little job for the city while back, and we got stiffed on the bill by some bureaucratic bookworm like yourself."
Hardemeyer: "Look, you stay away from the mayor. He's running for governor next fall, and the last thing we need is for him to be associated with two-bit frauds and publicity hounds like you and your friends."
Peter: "You know, I'm a voter. Aren't you... supposed to lie to me and kiss my butt?"
It's at this point that I should bring up one of the biggest reasons for all the changes in this movie: Kids.
I mentioned it in the Intro, but Ghostbusters was a huge hit with kids, spawning a buttload of toys and a cartoon series with a spinoff or two.
|This may or may not have been my favorite cartoon at one point.|
Hardemeyer here also represents the other problem with this movie. Pretty much everything about it is just a rehash of the first movie. Only different. And usually worse. Hardemeyer is a poor man's Walter Peck, and we soon cut to the fictional Manhattan Museum of Art, where we're introduced to our poor man's Louis Tully, Dr. Janosz Poha, played by Peter MacNicol. When we first see him, he's doing what he'll be doing for the rest of the movie: Muttering in a thick accent, occasionally saying something funny.
Janosz: "Everything you're doing is bad. I want you to know this."
Janosz is the head of the restoration team at the Manhattan Museum of Art, and he takes a particular interest in Dana Barrett's restoration work. And also Dana Barrett.
|She's like a magnet for unwanted attention, whether it be from the forces of Hell or just a strange, vaguely-foreign man.|
Meanwhile, Ray is working the counter of his occult shop while Egon does some research. I'm not sure what Ray just sold, but he tells the customer to give his best to "the coven."
I shall refrain from criticizing this point until the Review. Again, because you'd be here all day if I kept stopping to analyze every little point.
But I will mention that Ray has taken to chewing on a pipe, rather than actually smoking cigarettes. Kids are watching, you know.
Peter comes in, putting on a funny voice and pretending to want magic roofies. Sorry, a "love potion aerosol."
Peter: "Hi, Egon. How's school? I bet those science chicks really dig that large cranium of yours."
Egon: "I think they're more interested in my epididymis."
And because there's no way to respond to that statement, Peter tells Ray to go buy him a calzone. Ray says he's busy, but hands Peter that book he ordered.
Ray: "'Magical Paths to Fortune and Power.'"
Ah, so that's Bill Murray's secret.
Peter takes interest in the case that Ray and Egon are working on and ends up pulling Ray's ears to get him to reveal who they're working for. Ray spills the beans like a leaky burrito.
Ray: "Dana Barrett!"
Peter: "...My Dana Barrett?"
She's not your property! She belongs to no one but herself!
As the appointment time nears, Dana's doorbell rings, and she answers it, finding Ray and Egon ready to begin. And Peter, ready to make things awkward. Peter and Dana say "hi," then she immediately gets down to business with Ray and Egon. They'll just be running some checkups before checking out his room for ghosty stuff.
Egon: "We'll do a cursory medical examination."
Ray: "Whadda ya say? Gammel and Pross Infant Acuity Test?"
When did two of the writers for Seinfeld find time to develop an infant acuity test?
Egon: "Sounds good. We'll finish with an APGAR score."
And if Oscar was born three minutes ago, that would mean something. The APGAR Test (Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity, Respiration) was developed to determine if a newborn needed urgent medical care.
Speaking of things done wrong, Peter starts plucking a blues riff on Dana's cello, getting her attention. She takes the cello back as they catch up.
Peter: "So what happened to Mr. Right? I hear he ditched you and ran off to Europe."
Dana: "He didn't ditch me. We had some problems and he got a very good job offer from an orchestra in London and he took it."
Peter: "So he ditched you."
Wait... orchestra? In the absence of any evidence to the contrary, I am forced to conclude that the man Dana Barrett married and had a child with...
|...Is this stiff.|
Dana: "You never asked me. And whenever I brought it up, you'd get drowsy and fall asleep."
Peter: "You never got it, Dana. I'm a man! I'm sensitive. I need to feel loved, I need to be desired!"
Dana: "It was when you started introducing me as 'the ol' ball-and-chain.' That's when I left."
With the tests completed, Dana takes Egon and Ray into Oscar's bedroom while they leave Peter to get a stool sample. Ray starts sweeping for valences, which sounds all scientific... except that it means he's using his handheld scanner to track emotions in stuffed animals. Luckily, Egon's there to distract us with his stories of childhood.
Egon: "My parents didn't believe in toys."
As they scan away, Peter has some bonding time with Oscar.
Peter: "You know, I should have been your father. I mean, I coulda been."
Luckily, the shoulda-woulda-couldas quickly morph into Bill Murray being goofy and pretending that Oscar's biting his nose off. As Dana goes to make sure everything's okay, Ray confronts Egon.
Ray: "You mean you never even had a slinky?"
Egon: "We had part of a slinky. But I straightened it."
|...What more could I add to that joke? That's my favorite line in the movie.|
Peter: "He, uh, he had some sort of clear liquid coming out of his mouth, too."
Dana: "Yeah, well, that happens."
Dana seems to enjoy the fact that Peter and Oscar are getting along, but Peter tries to hide beneath a veil of masculinity by insinuating that Oscar is probably just like his dad: short and stinky. This makes Oscar so happy that the foleys play some generic baby giggles over the film. And when Peter learns Oscar's name, he quips that the kid was named after a hot dog before handing him over to make Dana gather that stool sample. While she does that, Peter meets up with the other two, who are stumped over their lack of results.
Egon: "I'd like to run some gynecological tests on the mother."
Peter: "Well, who wouldn't?"
They go instead to check the street. According to their readings, something bad's bubbling up beneath the streets of New York. And in no time at all, Egon is dressed up like a road worker, jackhammering away. This gets the attention of the cops.
Cop: "Hey. How ya doing?"
Egon: "...Fine, fine, it's cutting fine now."
Cop: "Great. Why are you cutting?"
Egon: "Why am I cutting?"
Luckily, Ray and Peter come over to do exaggerated Noo Yawk stereotypes and complain for a bit, which seems to be enough for the cops. With them gone, the boys take some readings of their newly-discovered airshaft. They're promising, but somebody's going to have to go down and get a closer reading. And of course that person is Ray.
|"I'm really starting to regret developing 'Plan: Get Her.'"|
|"Janosz! Find me one overbearing and overemotional human!"|
|Still cleaner than certain parts of the actual New York subway.|
Dana checks on Oscar during the outage using a candle that seems to light the room an awful lot like stage lights would. Suddenly, there's a knock on the door. It's Janosz. He was in the neighborhood, creeping around, and decided to check on her, what with the power outage. He suggests that perhaps he could come in for a bit, but she shuts him down and tells him goodnight. Rejected once again, Janosz leaves without incident.
Yeah, Vigo? You might want to find a minion who won't be foiled by a firm "no."
|Also, maybe give your evil minion more powers than a flashlight.|
The court case is officially known as Stambovsky vs. Ackley, but is unofficially known as the "Ghostbusters Ruling." Long story short, there was a house, largely considered to be haunted. All sorts of various paranormal whatsits would happen, like the owner apparently waking up early every morning by a shaking bed, among other things. Someone bought the house some time later, and was quite upset when he found out that the house was supposed to be haunted. He sued over the "misrepresented" house. And so, the house is now legally recognized as being haunted, meaning that New York technically does recognize the existence of ghosts. But with that court case yet to happen as of 1989, it looks like it's up to their lawyer to get them out of this one.
Louis Tully: "I think you guys are making a big mistake. I do mostly tax law and some probate stuff, occasionally. I got my law degree at night school.”
Ray: “Well, that’s fine, Louis. We got arrested at night.”
Welp. They're boned. Rick Moranis is only the person to save the day if you need something shrunk. And even then, I'd rather call Ant-Man instead.
|"Aw, thanks. That means a lot to..."|
Hardemeyer's there to encourage to prosecution to do what she can to put the Ghostbusters away. Which shouldn't be too hard.
Hardemeyer: "Violating a judicial restraining order, willful destruction of public property, fraud, malicious mischief.... See you in a couple of years. At your first parole hearing."
But maybe, just maybe, Louis can rise to the occasion and set things right with an eloquent opening speech.
Louis: "Your Honor. Ladies and gentlemen of the- the audience. I don't think it's fair to call my clients frauds. Okay, so the blackout was a big problem for everybody, okay? I was stuck in an elevator for two hours and I had to make the whole time. But I don't blame them. because one time I turned into a dog, and they helped me. Thank you."
Egon: "Very good, Louis. Short, but pointless."
Did Harold Ramis just give himself all the good lines?
Anyway, the trial is soon underway as a man, presumably an actual road worker, called to the stand identifies the Ghostbusters' gear as probably being used for catching ghosts, as opposed to road work. Which is problematic, since the Ghostbusters aren't allowed to act in any capacity as "paranormal investigators or eliminators." And to make matters worse, when the man is unable to identify the pink slime, he accuses the team of putting it under the streets, to Ray’s protests.
Judge Wexler: “Shut up!”
|"How dare you try to prove your innocence while on trial!"|
Peter: "Sometimes, shit happens, someone has to deal with it, and who ya gonna call?"
The courtroom erupts into applause, but the Judge puts an end to that with a loud “Shut up!” You know, a fairly competent lawyer could probably get the case thrown out for judicial misconduct. Unfortunately, the boys are stuck with Louis, who seems to be less Johnnie Cochran and more Doug Savage.
|At least this fool actually knows what a “mistrial” is.|
Judge Wexler: “On a more personal note….”
Yep, as soon as Wexler decided to take time to specifically yell at and insult the defendants, he made it super easy to cry judicial misconduct on the proceedings. But before anything like that can happen, the pink slime continues to bubble, even more fiercely than ever.
|Maybe the FX guy should turn off the visible light bulbs and blowers, then.|
And coincidentally, the ghosts that appear are the Scoleri Brothers, who Wexler sentenced to the electric chair after they murdered a few people.
Judge Wexler: “You’ve gotta do something!”
Egon: “Why don’t you just tell them you don’t believe in ghosts?”
The table our heroes and the judge are hiding under gets lifted up, and… wait a minute, I just realized why one of the ghosts looks so familiar!
|He has many aliases on the streets. Mr. White Christmas. Mr. Snow. Mr. Icicle. Mr. Ten Below.|
|And our heroes homage the Three Stooges.|
Wait, where's Winston? He was there at the beginning of the court case. What, did he just run off to get some donuts while his buddies were on trial?
Well, wherever Winston is, his three buddies blast the ghosts when they come back, apparently scaring them off. Our heroes nervously allow themselves a chuckle or two. Except for Egon, who slowly repeats a monotone “Ha. Ha ha,” like he was planning on killing the Batman. When the apparitions inevitably return, the Ghostbusters manage to keep collateral damage to somewhat of a relative minimum as they trap the fabulous floating phantom brothers.
|Despite aiming like blind men.|
Egon: "Ready to go!"
Peter: "We be fast!"
All: "And they be slow!"
Ugh. Whatever happened to "We came, we saw, we kicked its ass"?
Just... whatever. They emerge from the courtroom victorious and announce that they're back.
|"We got a favorable verdict through extortion!"|
Coming up in Part 2! Back in the busting business while babies are bathed!