Also known as: Cheech and Chong Join the Army (original script title) Release Date: June 26th, 1981 Directed by: Ivan Reitman Written by: Dan Goldberg, Harold Ramis, Len Blum Music by: Elmer Bernstein Cast: Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Warren Oates, P. J. Soles, Sean Young, John Candy, John Larroquette, John Diehl, Judge Reinhold, Joe Flaherty, Dave Thomas, Bill Paxton
Columbia Pictures, 106 Minutes, 122 Minutes (extended cut)
“Who’s your friend? Who’s your buddy? I am, aren’t I? You’re crazy about me, aren’t you?” – John Winger
This is considered one of the all-time great Bill Murray comedies. While I do like it, it was never really at the top of my list. I’m not quite sure why, as it also features Harold Ramis, John Candy, John Larriquette, Judge Reinhold, Joe Flaherty and Dave Thomas: all comedy legends I love.
Stripes is funny and amusing but from a narrative standpoint, it always felt kind of sloppy and pointless. Sure, these new recruit losers (mainly Murray and Ramis) do rise to the occasion and become heroes for a day, however, things in this movie just sort of happen without much purpose.
I get it, though, this is sort of just a goofy, mindless comedy. However, I guess I hold these guys and director Ivan Reitman to a higher standard because they’ve made much better films.
Without Bill Murray and someone as great as Ramis to play off of in nearly every scene, this would be reduced down to just a run of the mill screwball comedy like Meatballs or Porky’s.
I also know that Reitman probably didn’t have much of a budget to work with but this picture looks more like a television movie than a cinematic one. However, the film’s success did pave the way for the Ghostbusters movies, which are, to this day, my favorite comedy films of all-time.
Stripes is a movie that I still watch about twice a decade, as I can put it on and not think. But ultimately, it’s just never been as beloved by me as it seems to be by many others.
Rating: 6.5/10 Pairs well with: other Bill Murray films of the ’80s, as well as comedy pictures directed by Ivan Reitman and John Landis.
Also known as: The Experiment (working title), Twiins (alternative spelling) Release Date: December 8th, 1988 (Los Angeles premiere) Directed by: Ivan Reitman Written by: William Davies, Timothy Harris, William Osborne, Herschel Weingrod Music by: George Delerue, Randy Edelman Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Danny DeVito, Kelly Preston, Chloe Webb, Bonnie Bartlett, David Caruso, Marshall Bell, Maury Chaykin, Tony Jay, Frances Bay, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Jason Reitman, Catherine Reitman, Heather Graham
Universal Pictures, 107 Minutes
“My name is Julius and I am your twin brother.” – Julius Benedict, “Oh, obviously! The moment I sat down I thought I was looking into a mirror.” – Vincent Benedict
When Arnold Schwarzenegger was at the absolute top of the action film world, he decided to be in a comedy. At first, that may have seemed crazy. But the end result was this great picture that in my opinion, is a true comedy classic of its era.
Granted, this also had Danny DeVito in it, who never disappoints, and it was directed by Ivan Reitman, who was a great comedy director at his creative peak.
I think this film has actually aged really well too. Sure, it’s definitely a product of the ’80s but it is still a very human story that is carried by the charisma and chemistry of its two stars.
Schwarzenegger and DeVito just felt like a natural pair and even if they aren’t really brothers and don’t look the part, as that’s part of the gag, they just clicked and their connection and relationship felt truly genuine. And maybe Schwarzenegger doesn’t get enough credit as an actor but this allowed him to show his range and he did stupendously well in the role. It’s damn near impossible not to love him in this. And even if DeVito is a shithead for most of the film, you understand why he’s broken and I find it hard not to sympathize with his character and sort of grow into loving him as well.
At its core, this is just a feel good movie and it came out in a time where family dynamics were changing. I think that for a lot of people, it gave them hope that even if their upbringing might not have been the ideal, cookie cutter situation, that maybe, in some way, they could find the people in their life that would become family.
It’s really hard to peg but this is just a film that resonated with me at an early age and it still does. I don’t really think that has to do with nostalgia and for me, at least, it has to do with how good this is top to bottom from the characters, the story and their emotional journey.
Rating: 8/10 Pairs well with: other Ivan Reitman comedies.
From the Midnight’s Edge YouTube description: December 9th saw the release of the first trailer for Jason Reitman’s Ghostbusters Afterlife, the sequel to the original movies which also negates the original Paul Feig’s remake from 2016.
While he is not in the trailer, Bill Murray is by all accounts in the movie – but there was a lot of back and forth involved in making that happen! Murray always delivers great performances IF he does show up on set, and that is a big “if”.
In this retrospective minidocumentary, we look back at the history of Ghostbusters, and Bill Murray’s troubled relationship with the franchise.
Release Date: July 15th, 2016 Directed by: Brendan Mertens Music by: John Avarese Cast: William Atherton, Dan Aykroyd, Matt Cardona (Zack Ryder), Dave Coulier, Paul Feig, Kurt Fuller, Ernie Hudson, Ivan Reitman, James Rolfe, Jennifer Runyon, Sigourney Weaver
Double Windsor Films, Patchwork Media, Don’t Quit Your Day Job, 73 Minutes
There are a lot of specific fandoms out there. In this day and age with crowdfunding, it seems like all of them have their own documentaries. That’s cool though, as I find myself as a part of many different fandoms. Maybe not to the extent of the people in these sort of documentaries but I’m always down to hear from people that share one of my many passions.
I’ve loved Ghostbusters almost my entire life. I first saw it at five or six years-old and I was hooked. Between the two movies, the animated series and the toys, I spent a lot of time with my imagination locked into the Ghostbusters world.
What’s impressive about this specific fandom documentary, however, is that it actually interviews a lot of the people who were involved in the films and in the genesis of the franchise’s creation.
It’s cool hearing from the actors, the filmmakers and even voice actors from the cartoon.
Beyond that, this also focuses on the fans, as most fandom documentaries do because that’s sort of the point.
All in all, it seems like these films are a dime a dozen. But this is definitely one of the better ones I’ve seen.
The Ghostbusters fan community really goes all out on the cosplay and in trying to deck out their own personal vehicles to resemble the iconic Ecto-1. It’s hard not to appreciate that sort of enthusiasm.
Rating: 6/10 Pairs well with: other documentaries about specific fandoms.
Release Date: April, 1973 Directed by: Ivan Reitman Written by: Daniel Goldberg, Ivan Reitman, Robert Sandler Music by: Doug Riley Cast: Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Ronald Ulrich
Scary Pictures Productions, 84 Minutes
Strangely, I didn’t know about this movie’s existence until a few years ago. The reason I find that strange is that I’m a fan of Ivan Reitman’s work and I also really loved SCTV and that group of Canadian comedians.
I also find it odd that Reitman did a cannibal movie that starred two major players from SCTV before any of them had any real notoriety. As one might expect, this isn’t just straight horror and it sort of parodies the cannibal and gore movies that were popular with audiences of exploitation film.
All that being said, this was a cool experiment. It didn’t hit it out of the park or leave much of a mark but it was one of the very first steps in the careers of three talented people.
Now compared to the things it parodies, this is pretty light on gore. It’s more about capturing the same sort of vibe but having some cheekiness thrown in. It still has a gritty and brooding atmosphere that definitely feels authentic to the time.
However, also like the films it is channeling, it’s also mostly dull. While the black comedy sort of makes up for the lack of real exploitation, it isn’t enough to carry the picture or really salvage it.
Although, I liked seeing Levy and Martin play characters that were somewhat serious. They hadn’t quite grown into decent actors by this point but they are the best actors in the picture.
Reitman would go on to make some of the most memorable comedies of all-time but he was very raw as a director here. The film feels very green and there are some noticeable issues but to be fair, this was also better than similar films that lesser directors put out that wouldn’t go on to do anything worthwhile after starting in schlock.
This really isn’t a blip on the radar when looking back at exploitation cinema but this is something worth checking out just to see some of the earliest work by Reitman, Levy and Martin.
Rating: 5.25/10 Pairs well with: the exploitation films it sort of parodies: Blood Feast, The Organ Grinders and The Wizard of Gore.
Also known as: Rage (alternate title) Release Date: April 8th, 1977 Directed by: David Cronenberg Written by: David Cronenberg Music by: Ivan Reitman (music supervisor) Cast: Marilyn Chambers, Frank Moore, Joe Silver, Howard Ryshpan
Cinepix Film Properties, New World Pictures, 91 Minutes
“Potato man loves ketchup man.” – Murray Cypher
David Cronenberg has made some of the most disturbing films of the last half century. Well, really of all-time, as there weren’t anything like his films before he found his groove and started cranking out disturbing body horror movies quite frequently.
Rabid is only Cronenberg’s second film and while he hadn’t quite found his groove or style by this point, he was very close to it and nearly everything after this picture is regarded as a horror classic of its time.
Like his other films of the ’70s and ’80s (and several after) this definitely fits into the body horror subgenre. Also, this is kind of like a zombie movie even though the monsters aren’t technically zombies. It’s like how people say, “28 Days Later isn’t zombies it’s people with a virus.” Whatever, all this shit is zombies. If you want to be that fucking technical than none of this shit is zombies unless the monsters are being controlled by voodoo or Bela Lugosi.
Anyway, Marilyn Chambers, the first porn star that anyone cared about, is in a motorcycle accident and burned severely. She is then given this experimental treatment. That treatment turns her into this sex vampire thing where she throws herself at people and a penis looking appendage comes out of her armpit to drink the blood of whoever she’s latched onto. Her condition spreads and pretty much all of Montreal goes under martial law due to these zombie like people that are trying to spread this virus.
Overall, this is a pretty good and entertaining movie. It’s not exceptional and it isn’t Cronenberg at his best but it showed him growing as an artist and a storyteller. His style is apparent even if it hasn’t fully flourished by this point.
Rating: 7/10 Pairs well with: Other early works by Cronenberg: Shivers, The Brood, Scanners, Videodrome.
Also known as: Ghostbusters (original title), Ghostbusters 3 (working title), Flapjack (fake working title) Release Date: July 9th, 2016 (TCL Chinese Theatre premiere) Directed by: Paul Feig Written by: Katie Dippold, Paul Feig Based on:Ghostbusters by Ivan Reitman, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis Music by: Theodore Shapiro Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth, Neil Casey, Andy Garcia, Charles Dance, Ed Begley Jr., Michael McDonald, Zach Woods, Toby Huss, Bill Murray (cameo), Dan Aykroyd (cameo), Ernie Hudson (cameo), Sigourney Weaver (cameo), Annie Potts (cameo), Ivan Reitman (cameo), Ozzy Osbourne (cameo), Al Roker (cameo), Chris Gethard (cameo)
Columbia Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures, The Montecito Picture Company, Feigco Entertainment, Pascal Pictures, Ghost Corps, Sony Pictures Releasing, 116 Minutes
“I will not let the 12-year reputation of this fine institution be besmirched by you!” – The Dean
I was a massive fan of the original Ghostbusters movies. However, even with rumors of a Ghostbusters 3 for years, I never really wanted a follow up. It had been such a long time since the second film and franchise movies that go on multiple decade hiatuses never seem to recapture the magic. The sequel idea was eventually abandoned in favor of this reboot, however. But still, I didn’t want it.
The only way that I thought a modern Ghostbusters could work is if it was to introduce a new generation and for it to exist in the same universe with the original guys passing the torch so that they could finally retire. Instead, this was just a flat out reboot with no continuity shared with the original two films.
But then there was also the gender twist element to this film. It seemed to be the latest Hollywood franchise to do a full gender swap for the sake of just swapping gender. Do I care that these four characters are women? No. But Hollywood (and all of entertainment, really) is sort of forcing diversity on the masses just because they can and apparently we’re all sexist, racist, homophobes if we don’t just accept what they are making the new normal.
In any event, this film came out with a lot of backlash because people are sick of the forced diversity shtick. Was that fair to the actresses in the film? Probably not. I felt that it should stand on its own merits but I also wanted to separate myself from all the social and political commentary for a long while before giving it a fair shot.
Let me first say that this sequel was unnecessary. Had it been made to build off of the already existing mythos and served to enrich it, then that would have made this more worthwhile and given it a point beyond just appearing like Hollywood attempting to gender swap fan favorite characters.
The thing is, I like most of the people in this film and that’s the main reason why I wanted to finally check it out. That being said, I enjoyed these women, their characters and I also thought that most of the supporting cast were better than decent. I also enjoyed the cameos from the original Ghostbusters cast members.
In the end, this film worked for me. There are several reasons for this but the biggest positive was that the writers didn’t try to just rehash what the first film was. This movie had it’s own original story with some cool ideas that served the narrative well. I liked the story, I thought it was pretty creative and even if the villain was weak when compared to Gozer and Vigo, his plan was still interesting and worthy of a first outing for this team of Ghostbusters.
Additionally, this film had a lot of fan service moments. They weren’t necessary or even really expected but the studio did a good job of not using these elements to sell the film in trailers. These surprises weren’t spoiled ahead of time for me and I was glad to see them worked into the movie, especially that major homage to The REAL Ghostbusters cartoon series.
I also loved the special effects and the whole visual style of the movie. The ghosts looked cool and there was a great variety of ghost styles. While the “ghosts unleashed on Manhattan” segment from the original film is one of the best moments in film history, I felt that this film’s take on that beloved moment was executed spectacularly.
The only ghost I really wasn’t a fan of was the demon dragon thing and the whole segment trying to capture it at the rock concert was one of the film’s lower points. But surprisingly, there weren’t a lot of other low points.
I was pretty sure I wouldn’t hate this like many people seem to. But I also didn’t expect to like it all that much either. I was lukewarm to this film and didn’t have the biggest urge to see it. I’m glad that I did though. It was entertaining enough, made me laugh a few times and I wouldn’t mind seeing a sequel even though they probably won’t make one and will most likely just reboot the film series again, sometime down the road. That one will probably star four overweight paraplegic lesbian Fijians, one of which will be Muslim too.
But seriously, social political agenda aside, this made me laugh and had some good positives.
Also, Andy Garcia’s mayor character was damn good.
Rating: 6.75/10 Pairs well with: Just about any other Melissa McCarthy movie, as well as Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters II and Bridesmaids.
Release Date: November 1st, 2012 (AFI Fest) Directed by: Sacha Gervasi Written by: John J. McLaughlin Based on:Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho by Stephen Rebello Music by: Danny Elfman Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson, Toni Collette, Danny Huston, Jessica Biel, James D’Arcy, Michael Wincott, Kurtwood Smith, Ralph Macchio, Wallace Langham
The Montecito Picture Company, Cold Spring Pictures, Fox Searchlight Pictures, 98 Minutes
I really wanted to see Hitchcock when the film came out at the end of 2012. The holiday season is usually a bad time for me to try and catch a movie. This picture also came and went pretty quickly, which was a bit of a disappointment when I tried to see it after the holidays. Well, slightly over four years later, I finally got to check it out.
To start, this isn’t a biographical piece of Alfred Hitchcock’s whole life. It actually just focuses on his time while making his most successful picture, Psycho. It examines the process behind the famous film as well as his marriage and how he became infatuated with his leading ladies. It also covers the early production of the film, which saw Hitchcock have to fight the studio system in an effort to get the movie made, his way.
Anthony Hopkins was pretty good as Alfred Hitchcock. Unfortunately, the prosthetic makeup was distracting sometimes. For the most part, it worked. There were just those moments where it looked strange and took you out of the picture.
Hitchcock’s wife was played by Helen Mirren. She did a fine job with her role but it just didn’t seem fleshed out enough for her. Sure, she has her own story in the film but it almost just feels like it is there to fill space and isn’t as interesting as it could have been. Ultimately, you see how she feels about Alfred and his love for his “Hitchcock Blondes” but her own plot thread just seems pointless. She only really serves a real purpose when you see how she helps her husband with his filmmaking process.
Scarlett Johansson plays Janet Leigh. She was good enough but really didn’t feel like Leigh. This is one of those situations where the producers should have probably chosen an unknown but talented actress that looked more like Leigh.
It was nice seeing Jessica Biel in this as Vera Miles. She fit her role much better than Johansson did as Leigh. In fact, Biel is often times knocked for her lack of acting prowess. This may be her best performance that I have ever seen. It would’ve been nicer though, to see her get more time on the screen and to see her history with Hitchcock fleshed out more than it was.
Also, Ralph Macchio pops up in one scene. It’s worth mentioning because you never see him nowadays and The Karate Kid is one of the greatest American movies ever made.
Hitchcock was a pretty decent biopic. It just needed some things to be beefed up. The running time is surprisingly short for this sort of picture and maybe some important stuff got left on the editing room floor.
If you are a fan of the man, then Hitchcock should be seen. Don’t expect it to knock your socks off but it is still a fun and informative 98 minutes.
For those who haven’t seen these films, you have wasted your time on this planet. In fact, these are films that should be beamed into the brains of unborn babies. This would eliminate any chance of horrible humorless babies coming into the world. America, or the world for that matter, doesn’t need anymore humorless jerks being born to boring parents.
These films are great. The first is much greater but the second is still damn good. So let me get right into these movies.
Release Date: June 7th, 1984 (Westwood premiere) Directed by: Ivan Reitman Written by: Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis Music by: Elmer Bernstein Cast: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, Rick Moranis, Annie Potts, William Atherton, Slavitza Jovan, Casey Kasem (cameo)
Black Rhino, Delphi Productions, Columbia Pictures, 105 Minutes
I was five years-old when this came out. I didn’t see it in the theater because my mum thought it was “too intense”. She was wrong, as I saw it when I was six and fell in love with the film and its cast.
My young mind was exposed to Bill Murray, as well as Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis. From that point forward, my lifelong allegiance to those three was solidified. Hell, I also had an allegiance to Ernie Hudson, Rick Moranis, Sigourney Weaver and Annie Potts after this film.
Few films, even great comedy ensembles, are able to assemble a cast this good. Originally, John Belushi was set to play Murray’s part but his death changed things. Eddie Murphy was also cast in the role that went to Ernie Hudson while John Candy had Rick Moranis’ part. All things considered, I’m glad the film turned out the way it did. I think Murray is the gel that makes this unit work.
Great cast aside, the film was fun and original. The story sees three failed scientists and a hired fourth guy go against the paranormal forces that are ravaging 1980s New York City. It is a pretty nonstop film that moves fast from the first scene through the climactic final battle with Gozer the Gozerian.
Peter Venkman is Bill Murray’s greatest character, even though many can just say that he’s playing Bill Murray with a bit more intelligence in the realm of science. It is also Ramis’ and Aykroyd’s most iconic roles. The film is a perfect storm of talent, comedy, action and storytelling.
The special effects, for their time, are top notch and well executed. The diversity in the types of ghosts and supernatural characters is pretty astounding. While this film could’ve played as well with typical one-dimensional ghost characters, the filmmakers got insanely creative and took a lot of liberties.
Ghostbusters isn’t a perfect film.. no, actually, it is.
Ghostbusters II (1989):
Release Date: June 16th, 1989 Directed by: Ivan Reitman Written by: Harold Ramis, Dan Aykroyd Music by: Randy Edelman Cast: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, Rick Moranis, Annie Potts, Peter MacNicol, Kurt Fuller, Wilhelm von Homburg, Mary Ellen Trainor, Christopher Neame, Chloe Webb (uncredited), Kevin Dunn (uncredited)
Columbia Pictures, 108 Minutes
It took five years to get a sequel. Many think that it is inferior to the original, and they aren’t wrong. But it is still great and although it doesn’t capture lightning in a bottle a second time, it does retain some of the magic of the first film.
At its worst, it is a continuation of these characters’ lives. With a talented cast, such as this, it is hard to make a bad film, even if a sequel wasn’t necessary.
The entire cast that I mentioned in my write-up about the first movie, returns in this installment. We also get the addition of Peter MacNicol, who was brilliant and really steals the scenes that he is in – a tremendous feat when sharing the screen with Murray, Aykroyd, Ramis, Hudson, Weaver and Moranis. I’m surprised that MacNicol hasn’t done more comedy like this.
This chapter sees the Ghostbusters go against Vigo the Carpathian, who is an homage to Rasputin and Vlad Tepes (the real Dracula). He is in search of a baby to be his vessel for reincarnation. It just so happens that Weaver’s character is now the mother of a baby.
While not as outright funny as the first film, the humor is still top notch, the gags are funny and it is just nice to see these guys together again for another two hour romp.
Ghostbusters II isn’t an example of a bad sequel, it is a good sequel. While it wasn’t needed, we got it. It could have been much worse but I am happy with the finished product, regardless.
Release Date: April 7th, 2014 (Los Angeles premiere) Directed by: Ivan Reitman Written by: Rajiv Joseph, Scott Rothman Music by: John Debney Cast: Kevin Costner, Jennifer Garner, Denis Leary, Frank Langella, Tom Welling, Sam Elliott, Ellen Burstyn, Chadwick Boseman, Terry Crews, Kevin Dunn, W. Earl Brown
Being that tomorrow is the real 2014 NFL Draft, I figured that I should finally get to the theater to see the film Draft Day. Being a fan of Kevin Costner and sports movies in general means that I am a really big fan of sports movies starring Kevin Costner. Plus, this film also stars Denis Leary, Frank Langella, Terry Crews, Sam Elliott and a multitude of other stars I like in addition to countless cameos. It’s also directed by Ivan Reitman, who’s work filled my youth with joy – most notably Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters II, Twins, Stripes, Kindergarten Cop and Meatballs.
Now this is hardly Reitman’s best work and certainly not Costner’s best sports movie. That doesn’t mean that this wasn’t a worthwhile and enjoyable film. It was a fresh angle on football films and showed that the action behind the scenes is just as tough, heavy and stressful as it is on the filed, if not more so.
The film showcased the difficult job of being the general manager of a major sports franchise and the level of responsibility that comes with such a position. Kevin Costner did a great job with the material he was given and his presence added a level of respect and charisma to the role that a lesser actor wouldn’t have been able to bring.
Leary was great as the coach. I especially enjoyed the bit where he pretty much dissed the City of Cleveland for being a shithole compared to the wealthy lifestyle he had in Dallas – his previous coaching gig. Leary, along with Langella and Jennifer Garner, added some good depth to the cast. Chadwick Boseman who starred as Jackie Robinson in last year’s 42, did a good job as one of the potential draftees in the film. He was a natural fit and it was nice seeing him move on into a new role after his great performance in 42.
Overall, the film wasn’t great but it was fun and entertaining and certainly not dull or redundant. Sports films are a dime a dozen but this is one that stands a little bit above the average films in the genre. It’s no Rudy but it also isn’t The Replacements.