When I think about why I love this movie so much, the first thing that come to mind is the chemistry between the four Ghostbusting characters. Murray, Aykroyd, Ramis and Hudson work off of each other flawlessly, but also have excellent chemistry with the side characters played by Sigourney Weaver, Rick Moranis and Annie Pots. Aykroyd and Ramis’s writing perfectly suits each of the actor’s comedic deliveries and style, and it makes every joke in the movie land perfectly. The slower pace of 1980’s comedies is present here as well, allowing the movie to take its time and let the more subtle jokes sink in.
The special effects in the movie are also reflective of the time the movie was released, an age where practical effects were king. While I don’t mind CGI when it is used properly and in moderation, practical effects have a weight that is unparalleled. Having a model or puppet to represent the object which is created in post gives it shape and weight that feel more realistic that creatures that are all computer generated. And, while this aspect may seem fairly minor, it adds to the feel of Ghostbusters which makes the film so unique and classic.
Though the movie fails to live up to the original in many aspects, the charisma that the Ghostbusters have and their ability to work off each other is still present, if not as good. Not all of the jokes land as well as they do in the original, with many of the gags seeming somewhat forced. For example, at the beginning of the film, we see that the Ghostbusters are relegated to performing at children’s birthday parties. There aren’t really any clever jokes that come out of this idea, and it falls pretty flat. However, some of the humor from the original movie remains, thanks to the brilliant performances from all the returning members of the cast.
What really makes the movie feel lackluster when compared to the original is the general absurdity of its plot. Though the first movie centers on catching ghosts and features a giant man made out of marshmallows, it manages to seem very down-to-earth. Not only do the characters speak and act like real people, but the absurdity of the ghost catching is nicely balanced with reactions that feel realistic. Ghostbusters II feels far more nonsensical when compared to the original, with the evil ghost using the anger and hate of the people of New York to power itself up. I don’t doubt that there is a lot of anger amongst New Yorkers (as there would be in any city), but it is the way that the heroes combat that hate that is so perplexing. I won’t get into extreme detail, but it involves the Statue of Liberty. And an NES controller. It’s so bizarre that it immediately takes you out of the movie, feeling as forced as some of the jokes in the film. And, in the end, the sequel itself feels just that: forced. It’s not the worst sequel I’ve ever seen, but it’s nowhere near the best.