Sadly we lost a great man last week, Harold Ramis. Most recognizable for Ghostbusters, many may not realize his true contribution to comedy. His writing and directing credits rival John Hughes, and many of his masterpieces are ingrained in our popular culture.
Below is a sampling of his greatest works. Take some time when you can to revisit some of these classic comedies, and when you do, remember the man that brought them to you. If you have never seen these classics, please do. You are missing out on comedies that continue to shape movies being made today.
Considered one of the best comedies ever made and the crowning jewel of National Lampoon’s films, this was Ramis’s first real venture into to Hollywood. Co-written by him in 1978, the movie tells the story of a decrepit fraternity house, Delta house, and the motley crew that call it home. The school Dean has made it his personal mission to remove the ink stain of a fraternity off of his campus to finally claim the clean reputation his school sets out to present. Hilarity ensues as the Delta boys do everything in their power to foil the plans and efforts of the Dean in getting rid of them.
Partly written and directed by Ramis, this film is considered the best golf comedy ever made. Danny, trying to earn money for his college education, become a caddy at a high end club. With the opportunity of earning a scholarship, Danny is left at the rude and dismissive whims of his superior. After meeting Ty Webb, Danny gets a whole other education and begins to work out what is truly important for him and his future. The laughs are always present between Roddy Dangerfield’s and Bill Murray’s characters. Whether or not you are a golf fan, you can find entertainment in this movie.
Not only did Ramis lend his writing talents to this film, but he acted in it as well. This is the story of two friends joining the army for a change in pace. John at least sells this to his friend, Russell. John is not a by the book kind of man and challenges every statute that defines the military. Bill Murray stars with Ramis alongside him in this creative comedy, one of many team ups by the creative duo.
Considered one of Bill Murray’s greatest roles, this film was co-written and direcected by Ramis. Phil is tasked with covering the Groundhog Day event for the fourth year in a row. Exceedingly annoyed by this job, he makes no effort to hide it throughout the day. The tables turn on him when he wakes up the next morning to Groundhog Day again. No matter what he does or does not do, he keeps waking up to Groundhog Day and reliving it over and over. He eventually discovers that he has been given the opportunity to make the day right in every way. He just has to figure out how.
Any geek or nerd would risk losing some of their reputation if they admitted to not knowing what Ghostbusters was. Not only that, but it has become the movie that keeps on giving for those who grew up in the late 80’s. The movie you may have watched when you were eight is not the movie you watch when you turn eighteen, and yet both are amazing. That is something very hard to achieve. This is another of Ramis’s great acting and writing examples. Three friends working in a university parapsychology department get their grant taken from them and are kicked out with no money or ideas for the next step. They decide to take what they know and turn it into a ghost capturing business. Taken as a joke at first, business starts to boom, spreading the word and popularity of the self-proclaimed Ghostbusters. They soon are tested with the biggest bust of their lives and end up saving the world to do it.
That is just a highlight of some of Harold Ramis’s work. Honorable mentions of his contributions include:
National Lampoon’s Vacation
Back to School
Armed and Dangerous
I say this to Mr Ramis. Your work has brought me continuous laughter and entertainment. You may be at peace now, but your work will live on and continue to inspire me as well as others. Thank you for that.
J K Rowling has recently come out saying that she regrets having Ron and Hermione end up together. She believed that Harry and Hermione should have gotten married. Now for every Harry and Hermione shipper there is an astounding unified whoop and hooray. At this point it is a coulda, woulda, shoulda hope that cannot be taken back.
I like to fancy myself a writer. I certainly have not felt the joys of having anything published and can certainly not fathom the success that Ms. Rowling enjoys, but the regret for any writer is very much a real thing. There have been several stories that I have written that I wished I could change, especially after witnessing the productions of my plays at my old high school. Your work being presented to you in such a manner that is no longer confined to your mind can throw a lot of curves at you. New interpretations can bring to light that which was never conceived before. This is all part of the process.
Once something is presented one way, especially in such a public forum, changing anything is not only extremely complicated but not easily accepted by the masses. Writing may be something that is created by the writer, but once shared with an audience, ownership expands out to them as well. The audience may not be legally entitled to any kind of monetary rights, but they own their interpretations. Artists attempting to go back and change things or sharing their regrets never go over very well.
George Lucas is probably the most famous for attempting to fix or change his beloved work. The tweaks to his original trilogy were thought downright unholy by most of the fandom. The lack of appreciation for his prequels made Lucas slam the door shut on sequels that were proposed when Episode I began production. Lucas, unfortunately, took these harsh fan opinions very personally and scrapped the idea before finishing the prequel trilogy. Since selling the franchise to Disney, the sequels have been made real and are being put into production. The importance of this point? The majority of the fandom still feels the same about the about the entire franchise as they did back when the prequels were made. Now it just seems that Lucas has more confidence in his decisions regardless is the fans support him or not.
This is all to point out again that if you choose to make any kind of change or comments on a body of work that has already been shared with an audience of one or one million outside of your own mind, that audience is entitled to comment and feel about that same body of work in any manner that they please regardless if that opinion is the opposite of the creator. The voice of the audience is a powerful and persuasive tool. It can help change the path of a television show and even change the path of an upcoming sequel. It just cannot change that which has already been made. This is what brings me to Miss Ginevra Weasley.
Rowling’s sentiments of changing who Harry ended up marrying puts in to question the kind of girl he did end up marrying. This regret may have been due to a rumor where Steve Kloves, screenwriter for all of the Harry Potter films, turned to Ms. Rowling and questioned why Harry didn’t marry Hermione. This could be completely untrue, but even with her current second thoughts there is just too much built into the relationships of Hermione and Ron and of Harry and Ginny throughout the series that I am confused by her sudden remorse.
Ignoring the movies, because as amazing as they all are, they do not hold the detail that the pages of the books hold. If it is questioned as to why Harry would marry someone like Ginny with only the films as reference, then I could hold nothing against that. The film version of Ginny, and no I am not talking about the skills of the actress playing her, is pretty flat. I read an article about things J.K. Rowling got wrong, and Harry getting together with Ginny was one of them. The author felt that Ginny had no personality and could only be called nice. This author was even reminiscent of Cho Chang. This isn’t exactly a fair assessment of the redhead, unless you had only seen the films. The novel version of Miss Weasley is much more colorful. I would even say that she is all of the best qualities of her seven brothers all rolled up into one. She’s smart, funny, and feisty. Who doesn’t remember the Quidditch match scene where she purposely flew her broomstick at Zacharias Smith for making terrible remarks about the Gryffindor team?
Two of the things I most admired about Rowling’s writing in the Harry Potter novels is her ability to draw such rich characterization even from the tiniest of parts and her ability to foreshadow throughout the book and from book to book. Rowling just doesn’t make bland characters. The series is written from Harry’s perspective, and we are limited on what we see and what happens because of that. Ginny slowly becomes a part of Harry’s life a little more and more throughout each novel. I am not judging Rowling on her regret by disagreeing with her. I am however confused by this regret.
When I started on the Harry Potter train I had just finished watching the second film after it came out on video. I had friends that had tried to get me to read the books for years but I just never got around to it. That summer I finally decided to sit down and read the series. I binged my way through the first four, finishing only days before the fifth novel came out. I was immediately hooked then. I loved all of the characters and was probably a little more prone to the Weasley clan. The fact that Julie Walters played such and amazing Molly Weasley on the big screen didn’t hurt. I began to notice the youngest Weasley and would keep an eye out for her, especially after her role in the second novel. I started out sympathizing for the poor girl having to grow up and go through puberty with seven older brothers. The twins alone are enough to scare off anyone. Ginny was always there in the novels, and not just as a side note or a passing comment by her brother, Ron, to Harry. She was physically there and noticed by Harry, whether Harry felt it was important or not.
When the fifth novel came out, there was a scene in the hospital after Arthur Weasley was attacked. Harry was being very self-loathing and self-pitying as he was prone to do in this very angsty novel, when Ginny simply has enough and puts him in his place. That was the moment when I added two plus two. Putting together all of the other Harry Potter novels, along with the fifth, I knew that Ginny was going to end up with Harry. She had practically been groomed for him. Harry always wanted to be officially apart of the Wealey family the only other official way of doing this outside of adoption is through marriage. As much as Hermione and Ron have been with Harry through all of the trials and hardships, they could never fully grasp or understand the true evil and fear that was Voldemort. Ginny may not have come into direct contact with the older and more organized version of the Dark Lord, but she met the cunning and enigmatic and very evil teenage version of him, making her the only other person in the entire series that has any possible idea of how Harry feels and what he is going through. Hell, we knew more about Ginny’s boyfriends when she was dating them than we did about Malfoy’s goons. Don’t believe me? Go back and read about the Yule ball. There will be just a little too much information about what Ginny Weasley was doing, then there probably should have been when Harry was supposedly occupied with pining after Cho Chang. The knowledge we have about Michael Corner did mostly come from Ron, but it was there. A couple of talks about the boyfriend would have been enough to show Ron’s annoyance, but why would Rowling continue talking about it in such detail, if it weren’t important.
Hermione and Ron’s romantic relationship didn’t start to fully evolve until the fourth book, but the movies began to hint at that relationship earlier than that. As much as Harry was around Hermione, I don’t believe I ever saw any inkling of possible romantic feelings by Harry towards Hermione. The only time he really saw her as a true girl was when she got dressed up for the Yule Ball. His attention was however quickly diverted to Cho Chang when she arrived after.
I don’t see it. Rowling has clearly been one to say that she knows so much more about the world of Potter outside of the books. She even knew how the story would truly end when she wrote the first one. She may have never guessed what a fabulous on screen version of Hermione Emma Watson would bring to her world or the lack of use that Bonnie Wright’s character would see on screen when Rowling first started creating the Potter world, but the film franchise could have played a large part in her current thoughts. In the end, for an author who is known so well for her foreshadowing and characterization skills, Rowling certainly had to spend a lot of time planning and sorting out the path to have Hermione end up with Ron and Harry with Ginny. It is the only thing that makes sense to me, maybe not others. I feel it was certainly the path that I was intended to take.
Just let Ginny Weasley be and enjoy her much earned happiness with her husband. I personally wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of one of her bat bogey hexes, besides the fact that I’m sure she could kick any ass that said otherwise. She did survive seven older brother after all.
I was in a John Hughes mood tonight, and I wanted to highlight my top ten favorite movies. It was a very sad day when this man passed. I will be forever grateful for what this man has added to my life growing up, and I hope that someday I can achieve something that is close enough to its equal with my own writing. Whether he wrote it or directed it, he practically ruled the 80’s comedy with one tiny finger. He is one of my favorites and his contributions to film will be forever missed.
- The Breakfast Club – Hands down, my absolute favorite movie of all time. I don’t care that the movie was clearly filmed in the 80’s. This movie is untouchable and generations of high school students to come will always be able to find themselves in one of these characters. The richness of the writing and the reality put into this film make it a yearly watch in my books.
- Sixteen Candles – This is one of the funniest teen romance comedies that I have ever seen. Though I don’t really know what Sam saw in Jake Ryan beyond his dreamy looks, it doesn’t matter. I am along for the whole ride, cheering for her when he shows up at the wedding. I am a hopeless romantic at heart, and I will just eat this mess up.
- Weird Science – This is the movie that gives all geeks and nerds hope that when life fails them, they can just build something and make it better. I just don’t think anyone else has successfully created a woman who can change reality at a whim. The bar scene is in today’s world is terribly not PC, but it is probably one of the funniest things I have ever seen Anthony Michael Hall do.
- National Lampoon’s Vacation – It one of the best comedy’s ever made, spawning sequels that aren’t as equal, but still entertaining, the exception being the Christmas sequel. While the Griswolds suffered through several plights and hijinks on their way to Walley World, I think every one of us wanted to be a part of their family even for a little bit.
- Ferris Beuller’s Day Off – Every kid in high school dreamed of skipping school after seeing this film. Unfortunately, we all quickly realized that we lacked Ferris’s impeccable preplanning skills and general mass appeal to ever pull off the day he managed. We will just have to settle for living through Ferris and his sheer epicness.
- National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – Yep, it is so good that it deserves its own spot. I have a lot of movies I would like to watch during the holiday season, but there are only a handful that are absolute necessities. This is one of those few. It just isn’t Christmas without it. It actually makes you feel a little bit sorry for Clark. He may come off as being goofy or idiotic, but the man is truly a hard worker and good father. He is the man that allows us to deal with every annoyance of the holiday with humor and at the same time reminding us of the spirit of the holiday. Wow, who knew there was something deep in that movie? Surprised me too.
- Planes, Trains, and Automobiles – This is my traditional Thanksgiving watch. The hilarity in this comedy of these two unlikely companions is comedy genius. We have all had some kind of experience that poor Neal has in this movie. When he loses it with the car rental associate, everybody feels some kind of internal relief. We have all wanted to go off on somebody like that. Even though it is full of shenanigans, it again has this heartwarming story about not judging a book by its cover. People can surprise you, and sometimes you can find a best friend.
- Home Alone – This may not make everybody’s top 10 list, but I was a kid when this came out. Trust me, you are all lucky that Beethoven didn’t make this list, because that movie spoke to me as a child. Putting Macaulay Culkin’s current, sketchy lifestyle aside, this movie is still powerful enough to overshadow it. What kid didn’t want to have run of the house especially when you have so many people dictating what you can and cannot do. This was every kid’s dream. Not only did Kevin make us feel like we could take on any criminal with resourcefulness and mad Erector Set building skills, but he reminded us that even though it can be fun, we still need our family.
- Pretty in Pink – While this was a total chick flick, this is one of the few romance dramas that still conflicts me to this day when Andie makes her choice. Sometimes I’m Team Duckie, and other times I’m Team Blane. Every once in a while I dismiss either one of them and stare dreamly at bad boy Steff. This was a good look for James Spader. The point is that every girl wants both a Duckie and a Blane. Sure Duckie may not have had the money or the looks that Blane did, but the man was devoted. Regardless whether Duckie ended up with Andie or not, I don’t think she appreciated his loyalty and friendship the way she should have. But that’s love huh. Sometimes it isn’t meant to be.
- Mr. Mom – Michael Keaton stole my heart here long before he put on the Batman suit. This is a great movie about the family dynamic, not to mention a great tutorial about how some things cannot be winged when it comes to children. We learned not to give babies chili, not to overdo it with detergent in the washing machine, and that housework and childcare is just as hard and exhausting any other 8 to 5. Oddly enough, this movie has had a lot more meaning in today’s world then it did in the 80’s. With the recession and improving gender role equality, this is happening more and more in today’s world.
We all know about the big ones coming out like the new Marvel movies, but there might be a few gems heading to the theaters that may not get the hype or publicity as the big guns. Here is a list of some that look interesting for the coming first half of the year. Sadly, some of these may not have the strength to make it to a theater near you, but you should still keep an eye on their release to video.
The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box
This is the story of a boy searching for his family, unknowing that this journey will lead him straight through unimaginable monsters and evil believed only as legend. This is based on the novel by G.P. Taylor titled Mariah Mundi: The Midas Box.
Knights of Badassdom
Basically, it is LARPing gone bad. Three best friends try to make their experience as real as possible and end up truly raising a little bit a hell in the process. The trailer doesn’t lead to much of what the film is actually about beyond highlighting the cast. Names like Steve Zahn, Ryan Kwaten, Summer Glau, and Peter Dinklage are what give this movie some consideration, but in the end it may not be enough to carry it. This is one of those movies that has no middle ground. It will either be epic or completely horrible.
A Fantastic Fear of Everything
A former children’s author turned crime novelist forces himself into paranoia after researching various Victorian serial killers. It looks to be a quirky one, but I was sold at Simon Pegg.
The Monuments Men
During World War II, a military outfit is sent out to retrieve stolen works of art and masterpieces from the Nazis. What makes this even more intriguing is that it is based on a true story.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
I should probably point out that this is a Wes Anderson film. In my experience, people are either fans of his movies, or they are not. This is the story of a concierge and his life at the hotel and with those he meets. I am clearly not doing the quick synopsis justice, but Wes Anderson films are random, which is the draw. You never really know what’s going to happen. I am personally excited for it.
Muppets Most Wanted
Yes, I know Disney will do its fair share of publicity for this movie, but I feel it will always need more. As long as tickets sell at the box office, they will continue to make them. A Muppets fan can’t argue with that logic. This newest installment has a Kermit lookalike switching places with our favorite green frog and trying to use the Muppets and the theater to achieve his nefarious plans.
A scientist has made great advancements in A.I., so much that he is now confident that he can map any human brain into a computer. People fearing the dangers of such an advancement attack the scientist with radiation leaving him to die slowly. If an effort to save him, his brain is mapped into a computer.
I cannot believe that it has been ten years since Love Actually graced the big screen. My first thought when I heard this was that I was getting old. My second thought was how I was barely at the legal drinking age when it came out, which is sad, because I feel alcohol can be a necessity when it comes to this movie and how you are feeling when you watch it. So this little movie has been around for ten years, and I have probably watched it at least that many times if not ridiculous amounts more.
The movie is not specifically about Christmas, but it does take place during the holiday season. It has become a tradition to watch it every holiday and just maybe more if the mood strikes me. If this isn’t a film jingling out evenly time songs about the winter festivities, then what is the movie about? It is about love, actually. Pun sooo intended.
For those who have not seen this film, I will apologize about spoiling anything. It is not my focus to do this, but it will probably happen. In my defense, we are celebrating the decade run of this film, so it’s been around. I say this knowing that there are still quite a few of you that have not seen Love Actually. Hopefully by the end of this little rant, you will give it a chance. Let it be known, as fun loving and sweet as this movie can be, it is not for younger audiences, a fact that is quickly highlighted in the first ten minutes. Do not let the little ones watch this. There is strong language and nudity that is not exactly alluded to in the trailers. You have been warned.
This film is a British film, and although it is spoken in a language that we Americans may be able to understand, it is very much a foreign film. It is chocked full with an amazing cast of England’s best and brightest that is only ever in question by the fact that they chose Hugh Grant to play the role of the prime minister, and not Mr. Grant’s casting in general. There may just be a general distaste for politics in the movie altogether when our president is played by Billy Bob Thorton. Both excellent actors, just not who would be pictured running two of the most powerful nations in the world. Being that the movie is British and full of British actors, then you should be warned that the British humor shows up quite a lot as well. I have been told that it can be an acquired taste, so it has been presented for you to do as you wish with. Now on to the fun stuff.
The main theme is love, which is told in a series of smaller vignettes that intertwine between one another severely or loosely as we jump back and forth between them. The important aspects are highlighted within each of these small stories and they are not always the fun side of love. The basics include familial love, puppy love, attraction, growth, lust, friendship, unrequited, loss, and mourning.
As many times as I have watched this movie, I have grown with it. I understand certain aspects more now having gone through them then I did ten years ago. There are still certain feelings that have held true for certain stories every time I watch it. I may have identified with one character or another over several viewings, but I seem to still be closer to the character of Sarah.
Sarah’s story is that she has a crush on her coworker, which is fantastic for her later on when he reciprocates these feelings, unfortunately that’s not why I identify with her, though the man is quite the catch. What makes her story so important is her love for her very mentally sick brother. He is in a home, but calls her at all hours of the day and night. She not only deeply cares for her brother, but feels solely responsible for him. As much as I try to convince myself that I would choose differently based on the logic that nothing will change the situation of her brother if she decides to go from constantly sacrificing herself for her brother’s every need to supporting him fully with his needs but also balancing it with her own, the decision to not choose family is very understandably tough.
There is a scene where Sarah is driven home after a holiday office party by her crush. He had asked her to dance at this party, which is the first real sign of any kind of mutual feelings by him for Sarah. He, as gentlemen do, walks her to the door, and after some adorable awkwardness they share a kiss. This is the moment where all the hopeless romantics cheer, because the supposed impossible, according to Sarah, happened. Because the fine man crush enjoyed himself so much, he happens to invite himself to stay, a suggestion that Sarah is all too ready to agree with. She asks for a minute and does a happy dance out of sight which I did mentally with her. Then comes the part that makes me turn the volume of my potty mouth up to the highest levels.
Eventually Sarah starts to engage in activities that I honestly cannot blame her for one bit, but before anything more serious can take place, her phone rings. Her brother is having a delusion and is frantically seeking her counsel. She quickly calms him down and ends the call, apologizing to her bed fellow. The festivities have only just begun to recover from her delay when the phone rings again. It is the third and final time that the phone rings that gets me riled up as she removes herself completely from the situation with either stupidity or amazing willpower to focus and attend to her brother. I tend to lean towards stupidity as I cuss her out for a good two minutes, neighbors be damned.
I say this, but honestly, I love and adore my family. My closest friends are my family also. I may put them before myself too much at times, but I am a very mothering person. I feel that it is my job to take care of them, whether it actually is or not. That being said, as much as I cuss out poor Sarah for choosing her brother in that moment, I can’t help but wonder if I would choose any differently if it was me. We tend to be harsher on those we see ourselves in.
The other character I tend to relate to is Natalie. She is fresh in what she is doing even though it is clear she hasn’t exactly figured out what that is. My favorite part about her is her personality. She is honest, genuine, and a bit quirky. This may challenge her professionalism as it did in her first meeting with her boss the prime minister, but I love her more for that. I am a bit quirky myself, so I like this girl. She has a bit of a filthy mouth, which I am known for as well, so that is also a bonus for her. One of my favorite parts of this whole film is towards the end when is coming down the staircase to join her family in leaving, and she questions the room, children included, asking, “Where the f@#$ is my f@#$ing coat?” I remember texting one of my best friends immediately after this telling her that we needed to move to England, because we would probably be more appreciated there. She is adorable and real and for some weird reason considered the chubby one. I didn’t get that, and neither did the prime minister. She was young and so was I when I first watch it, so I have always connected with her.
There are many other people to follow, enjoy, or even become disappointed with throughout the progress of the movie. It is a rollercoaster of a film and it does not apologize for it. I have personally fell out laughing, screamed out it in horror, teared up or cried depending on the exact mood, or just radiated with happiness throughout the entire viewing of Love Actually. It has been a wonderful ten years of viewing this film yearly, and still manages to remain fresh. Happy anniversary and thank you for entering my life.
I need to tell you a story.
Many years ago when I was a junior in high school, we were tasked with the reading of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Our teacher (HEY MRS. STOKESBERRY!!!) being the awesome person that she was, showed us the movie as well.
Dear reader, I don't do well with horror flicks. I have an overactive imagination, and incredibly vivid dreams. These can sometimes turn into vivid nightmares. The three weeks we spent with this book and movie, I don't think I got a full night's sleep. The version of Frankenstein we watched was the 1996 version with Robert De Niro.
I feel like he captured the pure essence of Frankenstein's monster.
Imagine my shock (Not really, they are remaking everything) when I go to the movies a couple weeks ago and find out there is a new Frankenstein movie coming out called "I, Frankenstein." Imagine my utter dismay when I found out Frankenstein now looks like this:
I apologize right now for everything I am about to say, because I am going to go into a rant. When I saw this on the screen at the movies, I was whipped into such a frenzy that the woman next to me moved, terrified at what I was going to do next.
Look, I realize that this movie is based off a graphic novel. However, you kept the spirit of Mary Shelley. The monster was created.
FRANKENSTEIN'S MONSTER WAS MADE FROM THE BODIES OF DEAD CHOLERA PATIENTS AND THE AFTERBIRTH OF WOMEN!!!
This Frankenstein looks like they hacked up the torso of Hugh Jackman, put some scars on it for effect, and said "Done!"
Look here Hollywood. Mary Shelley did not go through everything she did in life to get that book published for you to come along and sex it up. I WILL NOT STAND FOR THIS!
What the hell happened to the creature that tormented my dreams?
My husband does not understand my unusual rantings about this book/movie. Hollywood WILL NOT turn this into some Twilight franchise. NO.
Now, if you need me, I will be rocking in the corner. I swear on everything that's holy, if this Frankenstein sparkles, I will punch the nearest person in the face.