February 27, 2014

Achieving Total Consciousness With Harold Ramis and BACK TO SCHOOL

"Whoever did write this doesn't know the first thing about Kurt Vonnegut."
I am strongly considering getting a Ghostbusters tattoo.

Harold Ramis had a profound influence upon my comedic tastes that I almost don't know where to begin.  Most people remember him as uber-nerd Egon Spengler from Ivan Reitman's immortal classic Ghostbusters, and that's with good reason.  It's an absolute monster of a film that, against all odds, is exactly as funny today as it was in 1984.  In fact, I'd argue that the movie only gets funnier with time, aging like really good bourbon.  It's my absolute favorite movie of all time.  I wish I could say that I was a child of enlightened comedy tastes, but in truth I was first introduced to Peter, Ray, Egon, Winston and Slimer not by Ivan Reitman's film, but instead by the Saturday morning cartoon.  What can I say, I was their target demographic.

Quick digression: The Ghostbusters cartoon was actually titled The Real Ghostbusters because Filmation also launched an animated show at the same time called Ghostbusters with a similar premise centered on two guys named Kong and Spencer and their intelligent gorilla named Tracy.  It's one of those things that I vaguely remembered from my childhood but was half-convinced that I had imagined.  This shit really happened:


Even more amazingly, this was all based on live action show from 1975 starring Larry Storch!


This is why YouTube was invented.

Anyway, Ramis's contributions to the comedy landscape don't end with proton packs and PKE meters.  The guy was an absolute titan.  He wrote not only Ghostbusters, but Animal House, Meatballs and Stripes.  He also wrote and directed Caddyshack, National Lampoon's Vacation and Groundhog Day.

Yeah.

Ramis had been seriously ill for quite some time, but his death seems to have caught the world completely off guard.  The outpouring of Ramis-love online the last few days has been really incredible.  NYFD's Hook & Ladder Co. 8, a.k.a. the firehouse where Ghostbusters was filmed, dug out the sign from Ghostbusters 2 and hung it outside the station where fans have been leaving flowers, pictures and, fantastically enough, Twinkies.  Even President Obama issued a statement praising the departed Chicago native, including his hope that Ramis has achieved "total consciousness."

I really wanted to watch a Ramis film the night he passed, but I had very few options in terms of quality flicks that I'd never seen before.  I flirted with the idea of Multiplicity, mostly because I love me some funny Michael Keaton, but instead I went with Back To School starring Rodney Dangerfield.  It felt like a better representation of the slobs vs. snobs mentality that was Ramis's signature and it absolutely did not disappoint.  In fact, I think it just might be Dangerfield's strongest and most layered performance.  Plus it's got a young Robert Downey Jr. with punk rock hair and an ascot.  So it's got that goin' for it.

This seemed like a good opportunity for one last live-tweet before I hit my deadline, although I didn't realize until halfway through that I had been accidentally tweeting from my personal Twitter account.  Ah well.  Enjoy.


The day Murray goes, I'm totally gonna lose it.


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Title: Back To School
Director: Alan Metter
Starring: Rodney Dangerfield, Sally Kellerman, Burt Young, Keith Gordon, Robert Downey Jr, Paxton Whitehead, Terry Farrell, M. Emmet Walsh, William Zabka, Ned Beatty, Sam Kinison, Robert Picardo
Year Of Release: 1986
Viewing Method: DVD