I Didn’t Love The New Ghostbusters, But Love That It Exists

ghostbusters-2016-posterSo this new Ghostbusters film was kind of a lightning rod, huh? It shouldn’t have been, of course. Grown-up human people should be able to understand that 1) a group of female Ghostbusters doesn’t threaten them in any way and 2) the existence of a remake in no way takes away from the original, but the last few years have gone a long way to prove that rationality and insight might not be as prevalent as I previously thought.

It feels like I’ve been excited for some kind of new Ghostbusters film for forever. I actually interviewed Harold Ramis back in my ToyFare days and he talked about a Ghostbusters film being written by a pair of writers from The Office. Between his unfortunate death a few years after that and a variety of studio concerns, that never happened. Then it turned out that the super talented Paul Feig would do an all-female take. By then I was covering stuff like this for Spinoff and writing about this movie on what felt like a nearly constant basis. Still, I was stoked. Only a fool would be bummed out by a film starring the ridiculously funny Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon. Continue reading I Didn’t Love The New Ghostbusters, But Love That It Exists

Quick Movie Review: Year One (2009)

The impetus for me posting the full transcript of my Harold Ramis interview was the missus and me watching Year One. Unfortunately, I did not like it very much. For the most part I liked the performances by guys like Jack Black, Michael Cera, David Cross, Paul Rudd, Christopher Mintz-Platz, Vinnie Jones, the crazy skinny Horatio Sans and others. Unfortunately, none of those actors are really breaking down any comedic barriers or getting into new territory when it comes to their comedy. Overall, I think the story’s pretty interesting. It’s not a caveman movie like everyone originally thought, but a tour through the book of Genesis. Growing up Catholic, going to Catholic school and taking some ancient lit classes in college have given me a pretty good working knowledge of this story, so it was cool to see it from a different angle. The real problem is that the story seems to drag a lot and there are just too many gross-out jokes. Ramis created some of the greatest comedies of all time and he’s directing a movie where Black eats poop. Come on, you’re better than that. I wonder if all those kinds of scenes were taken out, I would have liked it better, but I can’t say because that’s not the case. By the end of movie I was wondering around our place cleaning and doing whatever I could to walk away from the TV. I was just bored and didn’t care anymore. It was sad. I really wanted to like this movie, especially because I’m sure it was a big part of the reason I got to talk to one of my heroes. Oh well, Ramis did a great job of directing the second half of the birth episode of The Office last week, so I’m happy enough. Here’s hoping if Ghostbusters 3 does happen, it’ll be rad. I don’t believe anything Bill Murray’s been saying about wanting to be a ghost, I think he’s just being Bill Murray. But we shall see. If you’re looking for a funny movie to rent, skip this one and watch something else from Ramis’ illustrious videography.

Harold Ramis Interview Transcript 5-20-09

Last year I had the absolute pleasure to talk to one of my all time favorite directors Harold Ramis about Ghostbusters and Year One for ToyFare #144. This full interview was up at one point on Wizard’s website, but it got lost with everything else when they redid it, so I’m republishing it here. For a little background on the interview, we had gotten word from Mattel that they were doing Ghostbusters toys well before the rest of the world. I can’t remember if we were world premiering the figures in the magazine, but I think that was the case. The issues was also very 1984-heavy because, after doing some research, we discovered that all kinds of cool stuff came out that year. So, to bring both of our big time sections together, we really wanted to talk to someone from Ghostbusters, focusing on Harold Ramis and Dan Aykroyd. As it was my idea, I jumped into the fray trying to track these guys down with some help from Mattel. But, I wasn’t hearing much back. We had exhausted all of our resources and had even heard back from Aykroyd’s people that he would be unavailable for interview (even though he popped up on some no name blog a day or so later). A few days before closing the issue, I got an email from Ramis’s people asking if we could do the interview in the next few days. I said of course and soon enough we were talking.

I always get nervous before an interview, no matter who it is, even if I’ve talked to them a dozen times, but this guy is a legend. He friggin’ wrote Animal House, Meatballs, Stripes and Ghostbusters! Those are movies that my dad literally raised me on and all had probably far too much influence on how I think and what I think is funny. Ramis was really nice and gracious with his time. I don’t have the sound file easily played right now, but we talked for a relatively long time, but I probably could have gone on forever talking to him. I’ve interviewed Mr. T and Stan Lee, but this was definitely one of my favorites, up there with Danny Trejo and John Landis. So, if you want to real the full 11 page interview from last May, hit the jump and read on. Continue reading Harold Ramis Interview Transcript 5-20-09

My Interview With Harold Ramis

Sometimes work doesn’t really feel like work, especially when you’re getting paid to talk to world famous forces of comedy like Harold Ramis. The latest issue of ToyFare (#144, now on stands, go buy it!) has a group of features I’m really proud of where we talk about how awesome 1984 was. To go along with the theme, we shot Mattel’s upcoming Ghostbusters figures for the cover and, after months of trying, an interview with Harold Ramis co-writer of the film and, duh, Egon.

I got an email about the interview on the Monday before we closed, did it on Tuesday or Wednesday and then frantically transcribed as much as I could because we closed the issue that Friday. Since you hopefully want to support me, you’ve already purchased the issue and read the small portion of the nearly 40 minute interview, but now you can read the whole thing over at WizardUniverse.com. He was really nice and smart and funny (jeez, I sound like we went on a date), but he was also one of the best interviews I’ve ever done (and that roster includes Joel Silver, Mr. T, Stan Lee and John Landis). I probably could have talked to him for a day, really, but didn’t want to come off compeltely crazy. Plus, my mouth gets really dry when I get nervous and I’m always the exact same level of nervous (very) no matter who I’m talking to. So, go check it out already!

Book vs. Movie: The Real Animal House/Animal House

2009-02-18
8:41:32 pm

I must admit, I have not seen Animal House (1978) as many times as I should have. My dad was always a big fan, but I’m guessing he didn’t want me to watch it considering the questionable moral content. I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have wanted me to read one of the Animal House writers Chris Miller’s book The Real Animal House (2006).

The story is that Miller wrote a bunch of stories about his fraternity experiences at Dartmouth for National Lampoon (yes, it used to be a magazine). At some point the NL folks wanted to make a movie so Chris, Harold Ramis and Douglas Kenney pooled every story they ever experienced or heard about fraternities and created Animal House, one of the greatest comedies of all time.

Well, Miller’s The Real Animal House collects all of his memories and stories. Part autobiography, part oral history, Miller switches from first to third person as he gets to college and becomes Pinto. The shift is a bit distracting, but once you really get into the tales of Adelphian lore, you don’t really notice it anymore.

And let me tell you, there are some gross stories in here. If you thought the movie had some risque moments, you might not want to check the book out, but if that kind of stuff doesn’t bother you, I really recommend this book. Aside from being highly entertaining and funny, it’s really interesting to be transferred to the wild world of fraternity life in the early 60s as rock and roll was really taking root and students were trying everything they could to make the cold New Hampshire winters pass in the at-the-time all male world of Dartmoth. I’m not saying this was necessarily how all college life was in the 60s, but it’s a cool look. Plus, it reminded be a little of my fraternity days back at Ohio Wesleyan. We were never as crazy as either the book or movie fraternities, but there are definitely some characters and moments that echoed my experiences, though, luckily I never got stuck with a flattering nickname (we pretty much called everyone by their last name all the time, with a few exceptions).

Anyway, if you haven’t seen Animal House you really should. It’s the rare movie that doesn’t really have one central character and yet you never really seem to notice. All the actors deliver stellar performances and there’s something new to laugh at every time you check it out. I also recommend viewing the special features, one of which catches up with the characters, the other interviews many of the actors a few years ago about their experience with Animal House, even Kevin Bacon.

I picked the book up at my local Barnes and Noble in hardcover for around 6 or 7 bucks and I highly recommend it if you can find it for that price, otherwise the hardcover is $24.99. I tend not to buy new, full price hardcovers because I’m pretty cheap, but the low price, the subject matter and the super cool cover (Google it, uploading pics is a pain) all encouraged me buying it and I recommend you do too.