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Things I Dislike About Ghostbusters II

PermalinkBy Paul Rudoff on Sep. 1, 2015 at 12:00 PM , Categories: Personal, Ghostbusters 2
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Way back in October 2006, Roger Barr wrote an article entitled "Ten Things I Liked About Ghostbusters II" (since renamed to "Some Things I Really Like About Ghostbusters II"). I've been meaning to write a counterpoint article since I often consider Ghostbusters II to be a textbook example of how NOT to do a sequel. It took me almost 10 years, but this is that article.

It should be noted that my article/list shares similar points with James Greene, Jr.'s February 10th, 2010 article "Ten Mistakes That Could Ruin Ghostbusters III". That just proves that I'm not the only one who was irked by these elements of the film.

Also, this list is in no particular order, though some items flow into each other.

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Janine Melnitz Is Not Herself Today

How could one character change so drastically between two films? In Ghostbusters, Janine was a quiet, brunette bookworm; very plain and unassuming. In Ghostbusters II, she looks like a clown wearing a red-haired wig, and behaves more like a hooker than Julia Roberts did in Pretty Woman. No reason is given for the change in the film, though in real-life it was because the filmmakers mistakenly thought they needed to model Janine on her cartoon counterpart from The Real Ghostbusters. Bear in mind that at this point in time, Janine in the cartoon had been drastically altered and spayed. It's kind of ironic that cartoon Janine was turned into a Mommy figure, while the movie Janine that was visually modeled after her was turned into a slut.

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The Janine & Louis Relationship

You probably need a puke bucket after looking at that image above. There's one over there on the left. I'll wait while you use it...

All better now? Good.

Following from the last point, Janine no longer has feelings for Egon, as she did in the first film. For reasons that are never made clear to the audience, she now has the hots for Louis - and isn't shy about it. She puts the moves on him, like one of those "wanton women" your mother always warned you about, in one of the film's most uncomfortable scenes.

The Real Ghostbusters built upon the hinted Janine/Egon relationship from the first film, and was better for it. Ghostbusters II opted to screw all that to present a relationship that doesn't benefit the film at all.

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Louis Tully Is A Ghostbuster!!!

Louis and Dana are both ancillary characters. If the events of Ghostbusters happened at a different apartment building, those characters wouldn't even exist. In spite of the big names that play them, they are not important characters in the Ghostbusters universe. They're no more important than the possessed magician's assistant in The Real Ghostbusters episode "The Cabinet of Calimari". I bet you don't even know her name without looking it up.

If Louis came back just for the courtroom scene as the lawyer, it would have been fine. But that wasn't good enough. Louis had to stick around for more than that. First, you got the ill-conceived relationship with Janine. That's strike one. Second, all of that nonsense with Slimer (most of which was, thankfully cut from the final film). That's strike two. Third, and this is the worst offense, it was decided that he should don a uniform and pretend to be a Ghostbuster. That's strike three. You're Out!

I can only assume that the filmmakers thought of Louis as a simple, child-like character who could be seen as a role-model for the little kids. They obviously never saw the first film, or they would have realized that he was a creepy stalker. They also didn't learn the lesson of the Junior Ghostbusters. Maybe J. Michael Straczynski should have written Ghostbusters II. He would have had Louis run over by the bus that Slimer was driving. Speaking of which...

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Slimer Returns

Thanks to Slimer hijacking The Real Ghostbusters animated series, he was given an unnecessary and really stupid cameo in the film. I'm not talking about the "eating Louis' lunch" cameo in the first montage. Had that been his only appearance, everything would be copacetic. No, he comes back much later driving a public bus that, coincidentally, Louis happens to catch on his pointless trip to the slime-covered museum. Why? Is the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) so desperate that they'll literally hire anyone - living or dead?!? If he hijacked the bus, then where's the human driver? Where aren't the cops chasing after him? It's like no one gives a damn that a ghost is driving a public bus.

Originally, there were many more scenes with Slimer and Louis in them (such as this one and this one and this one), but someone in post-production took the red pill and woke up to the truth. It's just too bad that they overlooked the bus scene when they had their editor scissors out.

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The Slime Is A Major Character

In Ghostbusters, slime only appeared in one scene - when Peter's lying on the floor covered in it after the green hotel ghost ("Onionhead" in the credits) bum rushes him. "He slimed me"... "I feel so funky"... that was it! You never saw slime ever again in the film, other than the slimy handshake Peter gave Walter Peck, but that's irrelevant. The thing is, that slimed Peter scene was VERY popular, especially the "He slimed me" line. So, the filmmakers mistakenly believed that slime was an important part of what made Ghostbusters work. (Spoiler Alert: It isn't.) And thus, in Ghostbusters II, we were given... SLIME AS A MAJOR CHARACTER!

The entire film, from the first frame to the last, was dripping with goo. That's not an exaggeration. The first non-text image of the movie is the pink slime oozing up through a crack in the sidewalk, and the movie ends with Ray and Janosz covered in the positively-charged junk. Besides that, the major piece of new ghostbusting equipment is a... wait for it... Slime Blower! So, you have bad slime, good slime, and slime used for ghostbusting all in one movie. I guess no one realized that you can have too much of a good thing.

All that slime, and no one ever said, "I don't know".

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Second Verse, Same As The First

It's generally agreed upon that a sequel should contain "more of the same" from the original. It doesn't matter if it's a movie, video game, novel, or whatever else. The fans want something familiar that contains the stuff they loved from the original. I get that. But a good sequel will do that while expanding upon it and moving the franchise forward. Ghostbusters II is not a good sequel.

Ghostbusters II is nothing more than a situation-for-situation retread of the original. To put it another way, as i-Mockery user "Mister Tea" described it, "the plot reads like a Mad Libs of the first one". I could sit here all day and list every scene from Ghostbusters II and point out what scene from Ghostbusters it retreads. I won't do that because I have better things to do with my time - like finish the rest of this article - so I'll just give a few examples.

• Opening Baby Carriage Scare = Opening Librarian Scare
• Egon Lab Tests = Peter Psychic Test
• Sewer Excavation = Library Examination
• Courtroom Bust = Hotel Ballroom Bust
• Bathtub Slime Monster = Dana's Haunted Kitchen
• Ghostbusters TV Commercial = Ghostbusters TV Commercial
• Back In Business Montage = In Business Montage
• Ghosts Run Amok Montage = Ghosts Run Amok Montage
• Meeting The Mayor At Home = Meeting The Mayor At Work
• Jack Hardemeyer = Walter Peck
• Ghostbusters Locked Up In Psych Ward = Ghostbusters Locked Up In Jail

And the last example...

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The Statue of Liberty

The first film ended with a giant marshmallow man lumbering down the street, so as the previous item points out, the filmmakers felt they must replicate this. Thus, the Statue of Liberty was ripped from her pedestal and, without falling apart or sinking in the harbor, walked down Fifth Avenue to the museum. For some reason, there are crowds gathered on the sides of the streets, behind police barricades, cheering her on. There was no internet with social media back then, so who leaked the "parade route"? How did everyone gather there so quickly? Weren't the police a little busy dealing with all of the ghosts running amok to go over to Fifth Avenue and erect barricades?

Let's not forget how utterly unrealistic it is for the inanimate statue to have the freedom of movement to move her legs and swing her arm - which Frédéric Bartholdi never designed her to do. Stay Puft was a supernatural manifestation, the Statue of Liberty was a real, physical item sitting atop a pedestal for over 100 years in the real world. One of these things is not like the other.

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The New Logo

This is pure real-world marketing invading a fictional universe for no reason other than to make the new real-world logo ubiquitous. In the Ghostbusters universe, this logo makes no sense. Why would a successful company change their logo so drastically? What does the two fingers mean? Victory? Peace? 2-for-1 special?

I'm not the only one to point out the idiocy on display here. Myke Chilian even made fun of the logo in his McBusters 2 short. The Hamburgler character shows off a new "McBusters" patch on his uniform with the logo's ghost now holding up two fingers: "Hey, Ron. What do you think of these new patches I made for us? Two. Get it?" Ronald McDonald replies, "Really? Why would you even change that? That makes no sense to us. It was fine the way it was."

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The Shared Firehouse

The Ghostbusters are still living and working out of the same firehouse, only there's something a little different about it. Right behind the new logo sign, on the building itself, is the text "-8- HOOK & LADDER -8-", flanked by some new decorative stars. That part of the building was completely bare in the first film. No text, no stars. Hook & Ladder #8 is the fire company that occupies the building in real-life, but that text is now present in the fictional Ghostbusters universe. The filmmakers could have covered it up, but they didn't. So what are we to make of it?

In the first film, the firehouse was unoccupied when the Ghostbusters bought it. Presumably, they've been the only residents since then. So, why does a fire company have their name on the building? Have the Ghostbusters leased out use of the building to Hook & Ladder #8? Do the Ghostbusters share the firehouse with the firefighters? Do they have to pull out the Ecto-1A when the other team wants to park the fire truck in there? Is it a timeshare type of thing, where the Ghostbusters get the firehouse for certain times of the year, and the firefighters get it for the other times?

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Even The Ghostbusters Forget That Winston Exists

Winston Zeddemore, the character played by Ernie Hudson, wasn't one of the original founders of the Ghostbusters company. He was brought in when business became so good that they needed an extra person to ease the burden. In real-life, the character exists as a way to explain things to the audience. Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Harold Ramis were all already well-known actors when Ghostbusters was released. Ernie was an unknown. The movie was supposed to make Ernie into a big star. That didn't happen. When Ghostbusters is discussed, Bill, Dan, and Harold are usually the only members of the quartet that are mentioned. As a result, Winston has been dubbed "The Forgotten Ghostbuster" by some fans.

Apparently, the filmmakers of Ghostbusters II feel that way about him, too. Although Winston is, by this time, an established member of the team, and even has a steady gig working birthday parties with Ray, when it comes time for the guys to resume their ghostbusting duties, Winston is nowhere to be found. Dana goes to Egon about her baby buggy problem, and he gets Ray on the case. Peter inadvertently joins in, and all three go to her apartment, and then to the street corner. It's never explained why Winston isn't with them. Later, they go back to the street at night to do some underground exploration. Winston must have been too busy making Spacehunter 2, because he didn't join them.

The worst case of "Where's Winston?" (move over Waldo) is in the courtroom scene. When the scene starts, Winston has a few words with the guys before the trial begins. He disappears, only to reappear in the audience when Mr. Fionella takes the stand. Okay, maybe he was in the restroom earlier. He's back now, and surely he'll be there to help bust the Scoleri Brothers when they bust out of the jar of pink slime. He couldn't participate in Ghostbusters' first bust because he wasn't on the team at that point, but he's on the team now and will be a big asset on this bust.

Wait a minute... Where did he go again? Did he run out of the courtroom with all of the other people? Is he scared of the ghosts? Why, if I didn't know any better, I'd think the filmmakers forgot about Winston. Or maybe they just don't care about him.

Even with the various edits made to the scene - Dana was completely cut out - there's no reason for Winston, an established member of the team for five years now, to have been left out of the bust when he was clearly seen in the scene earlier.

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From Blowjobs To Babies

Thanks to The Real Ghostbusters animated series, Ghostbusters has been wrongly branded as a "family film". I'm not sure why anyone would even think that, considering all of the adult themes that are contained therein: Ray gets a ghostly blowjob, there's a rather raunchy sexually-charged scene between possessed Dana and Peter, plus all of the smoking and beer drinking. Because of it's unwarranted branding, it's obvious that the filmmakers made a concerted effort to make Ghostbusters II "family friendly". One such example of this was the addition of a baby character; namely Dana's son, Oscar.

Quick show of hands: Who watched Ghostbusters and thought to themselves, "This movie really needs a cute little baby"? I see no hands raised. It's bad enough that, yet again, Dana was the damsel in distress (which was haphazardly explained in a deleted scene), but now you give her a child - who's also put in distress?!? Did Steven Spielberg direct this movie?

Way to dumb down a movie that already had little respect for its audience.

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Five Years After What?

The very first shot of the movie is an example of poor filmmaking. You don't start off a movie with the text "Five Years Later" if you didn't show anything preceding it that took place five years earlier. If you view Ghostbusters II as a stand-alone film, without having any knowledge of the first movie, this "Five Years Later" screen makes no sense. Five years later from what? It would have been better to show a quick two-minute recap of the events from Ghostbusters, and then put up the "Five Years Later" screen.

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After all of that, you might think that there's nothing I actually liked in Ghostbusters II. I liked the idea of the hatred of New Yorkers coming back to bite them on the ass. Vigo was a pretty cool villain for someone stuck in a painting for the majority of the film. At least his presence was felt throughout the film, unlike Gozer who only showed up for a cup of coffee and a paycheck. Peter McNichol as Janosz stole every scene he was in. He was this film's "Louis", making Rick Moranis' presence even less necessary. While I don't think changing the license plate was necessary (it's an extra cost at the DMV that the Ghostbusters didn't need), I liked the Ecto-1A over the original. Maybe I'm just a sucker for more doo-dads, pretty LED signs, and colorful flashing lights.

I've always felt that they could retcon all of the crap in Ghostbusters II by starting off Ghostbusters III with a recap of the events from Ghostbusters II, and then have one of the guys wake up, to thus make all of those events a dream, and take it out of the film continuity. They could still have *some* of the events as having actually taken place - the dream was based on real events - but some of the events were dreamt. If Egon's having the dream, he could wake up and shutter at the thought of Janine hooking up with Louis and Louis later becoming a ghostbuster of sorts. That would allow stuff like Vigo and the slime blower, for example, to stay in the continuity and have other less desirable stuff be removed. Of course, there will never be a Ghostbusters III, so there's nothing to recon the bad and keep the good. We're stuck with it all.

Probably the biggest thing I dislike about Ghostbusters II is that it killed the Ghostbusters franchise for a long while, and soured Bill Murray on making a Ghostbusters III. Yeah, he was reluctant on doing a second film, but had it been a better movie, maybe he would have been more open to a third film, and maybe it would have been made while it was still possible.
6 comments »

6 comments

Comment from: Alex [Visitor]
After visiting NYC last year, one of my new pet peeves with GB2 is the fact that the museum is actually the closest landfall from Liberty Island... so there was no need to go for an extended walk with her if they were so worried about vibrations tearing her apart. Just 'swim' to Battery Park, and pop up right behind the Museum. There was already a crowd gathered there. Boom. Done.
Sep. 1, 2015 @ 15:26
Comment from: Rob Britton [Visitor]
I rather like the between-the-lines assertion in the IDW ongoing series that many of the events of GB2 are the result of the mood slime. A positive flipside to all the negative accounting for Dana's quick thaw to Peter, Peter's interest in being a surrogate Daddy AND janine and Louis. It's subtly handled and makes sense of some iffy elements.

One thing I will always argue, as an old fella that I am, is that in 1989 a lot of pop stars and teen idols were doing V signs in posters. It was the 'cool' thing to do to some extent, while still being evidently quite rubbish. It fits that the always slightly ramshackle Ghostbusters may adopt this to edgy up their logo for a corporate rebrand at that specific point in time. Sure, it's obviouslt mainly for the 2 connotation outside of the narrative, but back then there was also an undercurrent of trendiness to the V sign. I readily admit it is flimsy, but back then it didn't feel as odd as it does now.

I'd also argue that The Statue of Liberty bit is a lovely conceit, even if it makes no real world sense. It's nice to see actual New York to come to life to aid the four who always save it. It fits (albeit clumsily) the New York as a character vibe that Reitman so liked. It is also responsible for one of the best Venkman throwaways in the film: "Are any of you people here a national monument? Would you raise your right hand please. Oh, hello Miss!".

Other than that, though, I have nothing.
Sep. 2, 2015 @ 10:11
Comment from: Paul Rudoff [Member] Email
Hi Alex

The thing about the museum is that in the fictional universe, it's not in the same place it is in the real universe. In real-life, it's at the tip of Manhattan island, just across the harbor from Liberty Island. Like you said, Miss Liberty could have just waded across the harbor and hopped right up on shore at Battery Park and she'd be there at the museum! In the movie, it looks like there's a giant park (Central Park?) behind it, and more of the city behind that. The buildings that surround the museum, and even the roads, were changed in the movie. The guys at the Ghostbusters Wiki have tried to place it in the fictional universe, but have not yet found a satisfactory place for it.

-- Paul
Sep. 2, 2015 @ 20:42
Comment from: Paul Rudoff [Member] Email
Hi Rob

That's an interesting idea... that the characters in GB2 were acting, well, out of character because they were under the influence of the mood slime running under the city. Kinda like pod people :-)

-- Paul
Sep. 2, 2015 @ 20:44
Comment from: Justin [Visitor]
Hey. First-time poster, long-time reader.

Regarding the changed No Ghosts logo - I completely agree that the change was unnecessary but, at the same time, I always interpreted it as a statement from the Ghostbusters: "2nd Time Around"

As in "We thought we had ended all of the paranormal activity after that Gozer business and being shut down by the government but now it appears that there is more business to be had and this is our Second Time Around doing the bustin' that makes us feel good"

Like I said - unnecessary but not entirely unexplainable.
Jan. 5, 2016 @ 12:53
Comment from: Rob Hill [Visitor]
I've always thought Ghostbusters II to be a pretty good sequel, but I have to admit you make some really good points here.

Janine's mysterious character transformation always bothered me. But she's actually not alone in her metamorphosis -- Louis's personality and demeanor also changed between films.
May. 25, 2016 @ 14:14

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