harold ramis

Stripes

Year: 1981
Directed By: Ivan Reitman
Written By: Len Blum, Daniel Goldberg, and Harold Ramis

RYAN’S REVIEW

When you got this core of Ivan Reitman, Bill Murray, and Harold Ramis together in the 80s they were going to make some magic. The men behind Ghostbusters had a specific quality that transitioned onto the screen and you can see it in this movie. Originally written to be Cheech and Chong join the army this movie worked far better than it ever had any business doing so. These guys took a bombed idea and turned it into a comedy classic.

This is one of my favorite examples of how funny Bill Murray is. I think the thing for Bill Murray is that he has to be paired with a director who will just let him do his thing. Bill Murray is notoriously weird and can be hard for some to work with. Harold Ramis had a great ability to work with Bill Murray that lasted for a long time. Up until their last collaboration, Groundhog Day, they had a fruitful relationship. Don’t know what happened to dissolve that relationship but it’s really unfortunate.

I think this movie runs a bit too long. I think if they had stretched out boot camp a little bit more and not been deployed into their protection detail it would have been better. There are plenty of scenes in this movie that look like hold overs from the Cheech and Chong intended script. With a deep cast of funny people including John Candy and Judge Reinhold they managed to make it there own.

This is a movie that speaks for itself. It’s a classic comedy like Caddyshack and it simply doesn’t need my stamp of approval. For me it takes me back to middle school when I was first introduced to it. I thought it was a really funny movie then and I still enjoy watching it today. It’s easily worth your time but like most people you have long since discovered that on your own.

NEXT MOVIE: Suicide Kings (1997)

 

Orange County

Year: 2002
Directed By: Jake Kasdan
Written By: Mike White

RYAN’S REVIEW

Here is another movie that simply doesn’t belong.  I fell victim to the easy deals offered by Amazon Prime and ordered it at a really cheap price.  I remembered that I didn’t like it when it came out but thought it was worth a second chance.  I remembered thinking this movie meant something, that it had to be important because of all the people involved but despite myself I just didn’t like it.

This movie gave me every reason to think that young Colin Hanks was on the way to following in his father’s footsteps and on the way to being the next big actor.  Tom Hanks had yet to start slowing down in his career and his son was a spitting image of him in this movie full of famous comedians.  This movie wasn’t much of a hit but I thought it represented more to come from Colin Hanks.  After 12 years though I feel safe in saying that was a completely false assumption. Hanks has been part of some great things over the years, most recently the stellar first season of Fargo on FX, but he has never risen anywhere close to his father’s level.

This movie co-starred Jack Black who was largely up and coming at the time and it sported cameos from many big players.  Making brief appearances in this movie were the likes of Chevy Chase, Harold Ramis, John Lithgow, Ben Stiller, Kevin Kline, Lily Tomlin, and Leslie Mann.  I thought all those names meant this was significant.  I thought it meant that this movie was better than it actually was but I was wrong.  Having watched it again for the blog I just can’t help feeling the exact same way I felt when I watched it at 18.

This movie has a laugh here and there but it’s not a good movie.  I won’t go as far as to say it’s not worth your time to see but you could undoubtedly find something better to do with your time when faced with options.

NEXT MOVIE: The Other Sister (1999)

Multiplicity

Year: 1996
Directed By: Harold Ramis
Written By: Chris Miller wrote the short story and he as well as three others are credited with writing screenplay.

RYAN’S REVIEW

Following the unfortunate death of Harold Ramis I felt compelled to own more of his films.  The collection already features many as you can see by looking at The List but somehow it didn’t seem like enough.  This guy was a legend; he was a great comedy director and writer as well as a capable actor when his name was called.  I was a huge fan, and I felt a loss with his passing harder than I thought I would. I see Ramis as something greater than most because he was a multi-talented filmmaker that did everything.  He was more than simply a writer, actor, or director.  He was a filmmaker in every aspect of the process and he made some really funny films.  This film in particular had not been part of our collection before his passing but looking over the ones I didn’t own it jumped out at me.  I remember watching it when it came out back in 96 and thought it was just OK.  I don’t think it is necessarily an exceptional film now but I do like the collaboration of Ramis with Michael Keaton.  The pairing of two guys I grew up with that just aren’t that popular anymore made me pull the plug.  Sometimes I miss the days when one blasted ghosts with his proton pack and the other haunted criminals at night as the caped crusader.

Harold Ramis knew how to give a funny actor the freedom to do his thing.  It was one of the reasons he worked so well with Bill Murray both as an actor and director back in the day.  In this film he gave Michael Keaton the freedom to showcase his comedic talents.  I’ve never thought of Michael Keaton as a specifically funny actor, I have always unequivocally thought of him as Batman. Nevertheless he has proven more than once that he has the ability to play a great part in a comedy.  He was great as BeetleJuice and I sincerely hope for the opportunity to see him play that part again. The talk of a sequel to that one has heated up some and I for one will have my fingers crossed in anticipation. As for his part in this film; it gave him so much opportunity to be funny because he actually got to play four different sides of the same character.  I specifically thought about how funny he was in this movie when I decided to purchase it and don’t regret the decision. I think Doug1 is really cool because he is just regular old Michael Keaton.  Doug2 is cool because he gets so aggressively butch and macho as the movie progresses.  Doug3 is my favorite because I think the feminine Keaton is the funniest of the bunch.  Doug4 is technically the funniest but I always find myself laughing at Doug3 more.  It makes no matter as they are all great in their own way as brought to life by Michael Keaton.  I think I have sufficiently talked him up at this point.  His career took a spill for a long time but I’m hoping that things are turning around for him.  I haven’t seen the Robocop remake yet but part of the reason I look forward to doing so is because it was a big part for Keaton to get after a long time of not getting big parts.

I mentioned this movie to a friend of mine recently and it sent him on a tangent about how much he hated Andie MacDowell.  He specifically said she was in two of his favorite movies, this and Groundhog Day.  I found it interesting that both movies were made by Harold Ramis and imagine he liked MacDowell specifically.  I don’t get why my friend hates on her because I don’t see anything to hate.  I don’t know that she really brought a lot to the table in either film he mentioned but I think she fit the part in both movies well. It can be difficult to play opposite some actors, specifically someone like Bill Murray, and I think she did a good job of it.  Another little tid bit about her is that I used to work with a guy who met her at a screening of an independent film once.  She was long past her moment in the sun at the time and her presence was a bit surprising to him. He spoke fondly of her saying that she was both approachable and really down to Earth.

In order to appreciate this film you have to look past the flaws in storytelling and just appreciate the performance from Michael Keaton. They could have called this movie “The Michael Keaton Show” if they had been so inclined because that is pretty much what it is.  I think he deserves more recognition for the part if nothing else because he did an outstanding job portraying different parts of the same man.  As the working Doug he is appropriately macho, as family man Doug he is hilariously feminine, and as the mentally handicapped Doug he is funny in a way that only a child can be.  All in all Keaton pulled all the stops to be really laughable and I thoroughly enjoyed this film.  If you get the opportunity to see it then you should check it out.  It’s worth your time and a great opportunity to see the talents of two stalwarts of the late 80s and early 90s giving it another go as the sun set on their careers.  (I sincerely hope in time that statement turns out to be false for Keaton, I will never give up on the BEST Batman).

AMBER’S REVIEW

I used to watch this movie all the time when I was younger. I think my mom owned it. It’s hard to remember. I just thought how cool it would be to clone yourself. I also thought this was very far fetched and way off from anything I would see in my lifetime. Yet, today we are cloning all sorts of things and 3D printing almost anything. Human cloning has a whole other moral and ethical issue surrounding it, which I wasn’t even close to knowing when I was younger and watching this movie. And now that I am a working mom, I think this idea is greater than ever.

multiplicity_ver1

This poster is very 90s. I think it is simple, but works. The typography is playful, but could probably do a little more. Since the name of the game is cloning in the movie, maybe some science symbols or something could have been really clever to add into the title. I do enjoy all of the negative space in this poster. It is so simple, and rewarding. I think you get a very clear view of what this movie is about, just by looking at the poster. I like it and am pleasantly surprised.

NEXT MOVIE: My Life (1993)

Groundhog Day

Year: 1993
Directed By: Harold Ramis
Written By: Danny Rubin and Harold Ramis

RYAN’S REVIEW

When I was about seventeen or eighteen, for reasons I cannot remember, I chose this to be my bedtime movie. It was the film I played every night in my room to put me out. Watching a different movie every night would only keep me up so I set into a routine of watching one film that would literally put me to sleep. For a long time this was the movie that did that for me. What’s funny is that the more that I watched it the more that I got out of it. Just as Bill Murray eventually learned to love life by repeating the same day over and over again I learned to love this movie that I didn’t think was that great by watching it over and over again.

In this movie Bill Murray plays a narcissistic douche bag reporter who thinks he is above everyone else. When suddenly, for reasons never explained, he is trapped in the same day over and over again. He finds himself in an unlikely purgatory where he starts out angry, then belligerent, and depressed before he realizes he needs to grow as a person. He does grow as a person though and I think that is what makes this movie important.  It can teach us a lesson about life, if Bill Murray in this film can learn to be a better person so can we all.

I am a big fan of Bill Murray and especially love his collaborations with Harold Ramis. In this movie they do everything pretty simple yet still manage to be funny. I think Andie McDowell did a great job as the female lead, she has held up in that role many times and Ramis obviously likes her. We see a cameo from Ramis in this movie actually. He is the ENORMOUS doctor Murray sees in an effort to find out if anything is physically wrong with him in the film. I don’t know when Ramis let himself go but he should drop the weight for his health if nothing else, he would be too great a talent to lose too soon. We also see Bill Murray’s brother, Brian Doyle-Murray, in a small role. Murray has several siblings, 9 if I remember correctly, yet Brian Doyle is the one we see the most of. I am a big fan of his though and like most of the roles he has played, he has a very distinctive voice.

This is a good movie and I have always enjoyed it.  I love the depth and the simplicity of it all.  I think it is a movie that we can learn from too and that makes it important most of all.  This is a good movie and it is more than worth your time, whether it is Groundhog’s Day or not.

Click on the Groundhog Day link if you are reading this from out of the country.  This movie does center on an unusual U.S. holiday that I’m not in the mood or even qualified to explain.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Groundhog Day is a good movie that I like to watch once a year. Bill Murray is awesome.

Groundhog Day is a good movie that I like to watch once a year. Bill Murray is awesome.

Groundhog Day is a good movie that I like to watch once a year. Bill Murray is awesome.

Groundhog Day is a good movie that I like to watch once a year. Bill Murray is awesome.

Groundhog Day is a good movie that I like to watch once a year. Bill Murray is awesome.

NEXT MOVIE: Guess Who (2005)

Caddyshack

Year: 1980
Directed By: Harold Ramis
Written By: Brian Doyle-Murray, Harold Ramis, and Douglas Kenney

RYAN’S REVIEW

A great classic comedy.  A good example of how well improvisation can work when you get a group of funny people together and they start having fun.  This movie is a sports classic and an iconic comedy.  After more than 30 years since coming out it’s hard for me to imagine anybody who hasn’t seen this movie. Like most great classics it is a timeless film that can be enjoyed by any generation.

I have always been a big fan of Harold Ramis, both on camera and behind it as well, he has had a hand in many great comedy classics.  Ramis is a writer/director who occasionally ventures out into the movies, most notably Stripes and Ghostbusters, both classic films.  He has great chemistry with Bill Murray, who I have always heard was somewhat difficult to work with.  He is a very strange person with a wild sense of humor but that is what makes him funny.  Bill Murray’s brother Brian Doyle-Murray wrote this film based on personal experience and actually played a part in the film as Lou the caddyshack manager.  I have always been a fan of Doyle-Murray too.  He has had a long and steady career of small roles, some men are great in those small roles and manage to pop up everywhere.  Doyle-Murray was one of those guys for a long time.  Chevy Chase was ultra cool and on the rise when this film came out.  I have heard that he too is hard to work with yet doesn’t have the same caliber of talent as Murray so Chase’s career suffers for it.  He is however part of the cast for my favorite comedy currently on television.  Chase currently plays Pierce Hawthorne on NBC’s Community which is one of the best shows I have ever seen, it is the smartest comedy on television.  Yet Chevy Chase has little to do with what makes Community a great show, he isn’t as funny in his winter years as he was here in Caddyshack. I have never been a Rodney Dangerfield fan but I do like him in this film. He does also play a part in my number 1 all time favorite film, which will remain a mystery until we get to it.

There are also other noteworthy people who should be mentioned such as Ted Knight and Michael O’Keefe.  The roles of Dangerfield and Chase were actually originally going to simply be cameos but things changed as the movie was being made.  There is a great documentary about the making of this film but it pretty much boiled down to anarchy. There was a lot of disorientation and disorganization on set but somehow they made a classic film out of it all.  Like I said before, this is a timeless film that will live on forever, you don’t need me to vouch for it because everybody in their right mind has already seen it and is vouch for it themselves.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This movie is such a classic. I still don’t really like it all that much, but I appreciate it for what it is. I understand why people like it and hold it up so high. Every time that I watch it though, I am less impressed with it. I say watch it because it is a classic, to have it as a notch in your movie belt.

NEXT MOVIE: Casablanca (1942)

Movies Not To Watch

Time gets funny the older you get, the joke is that is doesn’t last as long.  Time is special, once you’ve had it long enough it starts to elude you quicker.  Suddenly great chunks of it have passed and you have barely noticed.  Personally, I try to make the most of my time. I recognize the fact that it has started moving faster and I want to squeeze every drop of life and excitement out of it as I go along.  Movies, Television, Entertainment, they take up a large amount of our time.  I decided to create this section purely to discourage you, to try to help you avoid wasting your time on something not worth it.  When I finish a long movie that sucks now I’m no longer disappointed, I’m angry! I can’t get those hours back and I could have used them for something that was worth it.  If I can discourage you from wasting your time on the crap I wasted mine on, then I feel I am helping society, I am helping you, recognizing that your time is valuable.

Caddyshack II

For movie buffs this one is typically a given, it’s a well known awful movie and I’ve regularly heard it mentioned as one of the worst ever.  I mention this first because I actually wasted about 40 minutes on it today, and I knew that it was bad, I knew its reputation but I tried it out anyway. A series of events led to a situation where I had the opportunity to acquire it for free, and given I had never seen it I figured “what the hell.” I tried it to see if it was as bad as everyone said it was, I can report now honestly that it is, I couldn’t even stand to finish it.

I don’t really know what the producers were thinking and I’m surprised Harold Ramis allowed his name to be connected to the film. Chevy Chase I can understand, dumb decision but I get it.  Dan Akroyd never really made great decisions about what to be involved in either.  Randy Quaid Jesus Christ don’t get me started.  I can see how they thought it could work but once Rodney Dangerfield said no they should have moved on.  They decided to go ahead anyway and this became a piece of crap, a waste of anyone’s time.