Mr. Ramis, It Has Been a Joy
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.