How difficult is it to make a good sequel? Not many measure up to the original, but there are a few exceptions. In my opinion, Ghostbusters II is one such exception.
Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, and Sigourney Weaver all return in the sequel, both released and set five years after the initial film. The studio pushed for the sequel against the judgment of Aykroyd, Ramis, and director/producer Ivan Reitman, but fortunately all agreed to work together to bring it to fruition.
The sequel’s soundtrack did not enjoy as much success as the first, but there are still some quality songs from popular artists of the day, such as Bobby Brown, New Edition, Doug E. Fresh, and Run-D.M.C.
News of a third installment featuring the original cast first appeared online earlier this year. Rumored for decades, it had been consistently shot down by those involved in the first two films. I asked Hudson about the possibility of a Ghostbusters III about a decade ago; he pointed to a video game and said, “That’s the closest we’ll ever get.” I’m glad he was wrong; I only hope he is involved in the new movie, produced by the original director’s son, Jason Reitman.
Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Bill Murray, and Ernie Hudson teamed up together in the Ivan Reitman-directed classic Ghostbusters, released in theaters on June 8, 1984. The movie was a massive success, the second highest-grossing film of the year, trailing only Beverly Hills Cop.
There was, of course, a sequel to Ghostbusters released just a few years later (we’ll talk about that one in a few weeks), a reboot released a few years ago (we may never speak of that one again), and a planned second sequel to the original next summer. In addition, Aykroyd has hinted at a prequel television series based on the original characters.
There are tons of toys, books, costumes, and even video games. Here are just a handful of the offerings on Amazon, but you can page through several more items yourself…
- Little Golden Book
- Metals Diecast Figures
- Mr. Potato Head
- Diamond Select Action Figure
- Funko POP! Figures
- Video Games
Ghostbusters remains to this day a cultural phenomenon.
The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray
by Robert Schnakenberg
Quirk Books, 2015
Bill Murray turns 65 years old today. He is one of the most beloved comedic actors of the past four decades, and his legend grows with each photobomb and impromptu kickball game. Robert Schnakenberg’s The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray, subtitled A Critical Appreciation of the World’s Finest Actor, examines the enigmatic entertainer’s professional career through all the ups (Ghostbusters) and downs (Where the Buffalo Roam). All of his film appearances are listed with an overall movie rating and a Bill Murray score to guide the diehard fan in what to watch first, and what to watch only if you have nothing else to do. There are also anecdotes (styled “Tales from Murrayland”) and tidbits about movies Murray didn’t appear in. For instance, Murray was apparently considered for the roles of Han Solo, Indiana Jones, and Forrest Gump.
Obviously, in a book this size, there is a lot of information about what Murray did not do. He could have been Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story, and Sully in Monsters, Inc., and the titular character in Shrek. But for one reason or another, he wasn’t. There are also several facts included in this book that seem extraneous, such as the fact that Murray does not find Adam Sandler funny, he doesn’t like e-mail, he prefers Mexican Coke, and he usually dressed up as either a hobo or a ghost for Halloween when he was a child.
Schnakenberg wraps up the book with some quotations by Bill Murray, and others about Bill Murray. Among the wise words of the Murricane is this gem on art: “It’s hard to be an artist. It’s hard to be anything. It’s hard to be.” Murray has done an excellent job of entertaining millions with his art, and Schnakenberg does a fine job capturing those moments in The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray.
How can someone who is so popular be at the same time so underrated?
If there was a Comedy Hall of Fame, Bill Murray would be in the inaugural class. Or else the Comedy Hall of Fame would be a joke. Which would be sort of ironic, don’t you think?
Murray is 62 years old today. I’m celebrating his birthday over at the new TWJ Cards tumblr page with a series of “fun cards” that will post throughout the day. The first is reposted above, spotlighting his role as Dr. Peter Venkman on Ghostbusters. Be sure to check back throughout the day for more Bill Murray TWJ 2012 cards.
Honorable mentions: Henry Winkler (the Fonz!), David Tennant (the Tenth Doctor), John Schneider and Tom Wopat (Bo and Luke Duke, respectively), and Christian Slater. I will watch just about any program or movie that features these guys because they are simply awesome.
10. Michael J. Fox – From television (“Family Ties” and “Spin City”) to the big screen (Back to the Future and Teen Wolf), he has been one of my favorites. Netflix streaming alert: Teen Wolf!
9. James Franco – I had trouble deciding where to go with Franco. Was he really top-10 worthy? Then I looked at his credentials again, and it’s a no-brainer. “Freaks and Geeks” was awesome; he is the only Harry Osbourne in my mind; his portrayal of Allen Ginsberg in Howl was fantastic. I have the 2001 TV movie James Dean in my Netflix DVD queue…hoping it gets a streaming date soon (because there are so many other DVDs in my queue, and it’s just easier to watch a stream).
8. James Earl Jones – He was the voice of Darth Vader, yo. Need I say more? Okay, I will: Field of Dreams, The Sandlot, The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings, AND The Lion King. That’s right, he was Luke’s daddy and Simba’s pop.
7. Tommy Lee Jones – This man is the definition of cool. Mr. Jones (that’s what people who are not his friends have to call him) is not only a great action actor, he can also pull off an occasional comedy. Check out Man of the House if you don’t believe me. (You thought I was going Men In Black there, didn’t you?)
6. Bill Murray – One of the funniest funnymen in history. His minor role in Zombieland was one of the highlights of that movie, and it’s a very strong 5-star movie in my mind.
5. Neil Patrick Harris – Who knew little Doogie would grow up to be such a hilarious dude? “How I Met Your Mother” is one of the very few television shows I watch today. He also does a lot of voice acting for cartoons (especially comic book cartoons). Netflix streaming alert: Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Don’t let the title scare you off. It’s hilarious, and also features Nathan Fillion.
4. James Dean – If Mr. Jones is the definition of cool, Mr. Dean is the definition of Mr. Jones’ daddy. Rebel Without A Cause is and always will be one of my favorite movies. Netflix streaming alert: Giant.
3. Robert Englund – Yes, the guy that played Freddy Krueger. While A Nightmare on Elm Street will forever be his claim to fame (and rightly so), Englund has done some other great work. One of my favorite non-ANOES roles is Mayor Buckman in 2001 Maniacs, a gory flick released in 2005. There is also his role as Willie on the original “V.” Netflix streaming alert: “V: The Original Miniseries.” (Maybe Netflix should be paying me for all these plugs.)
2. Kiefer Sutherland – The Lost Boys. Flatliners. Young Guns. Chuck Norris loses. Netflix streaming alert: “24.”
1. Harrison Ford – All my friends liked Luke Skywalker, but I was a Han Solo guy all the way. And then Indiana Jones…wow. One of the first DVDs I ever purchased was The Fugitive, starring Harrison Ford as Dr. Richard Kimble. There are so many other movies that he has been in that I love…What Lies Beneath, Firewall, Regarding Henry, and even Hollywood Homicide. You read that right. I love Hollywood Homicide. Netflix streaming alert: Hollywood Homicide. Oh yes.
Day 14 – Your favorite zombie film…
Rule #1: Cardio. Rule #2: Watch ZOMBIELAND. If there is ever a zompocalypse, this movie may not help you survive, but it will at least entertain you until your brains become some monster’s dinner. Woody Harrelson is just as funny as he ever was on “Cheers,” and Bill Murray‘s cameo is priceless.