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Club Paradise Review


Bad
Before "celebrity" reality shows, ensemble comedies were the lifelines that kept failing showbiz careers from bottoming out. This subgenre was like a post-Thanksgiving meal concocted of small quantities of disparate leftovers. It was never particularly good, but if one dish didn't taste good, at least you had a dozen other Tupperwares to open.

Club Paradise is a prototypical specimen, starring a dozen actors in career lulls, including Mork, Twiggy, a gaggle of Second City vets, Jimmy Cliff, and even Lawrence of Friggin' Arabia. A word of warning: these leftovers are rotten.

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Ghostbusters Review


Extraordinary
Films like Ghostbusters are inseparable from the '80s -- self-mocking and smart, yet lowbrow and mainstream, they rescued us from the unfunny film comedies of previous times. (If Ghostbusters had been made earlier, it would have been much less funny. If it were remade today, it would probably be much dumber, like TV's Buffy the Vampire Slayer.)

Like Bill Murray's other top comedies, the slightly more subversive Caddyshack and Stripes, Ghostbusters passes the most important test of cinematic greatness -- no matter how many times you've seen it, you may end up watching it again when it comes around on TV. Murray, Aykroyd, and Ramis are postgraduates in "parapsychology" who pretend to investigate paranormal phenomena (the movie begins with Murray trying to pick up a coed by convincing her she's psychic) until they're kicked off campus. So they start a business and become celebrities when they start capturing real ghosts. This cheesy premise is handled so smoothly that there is never a confusing moment, something screenwriter Ramis would achieve again with Groundhog Day, an equally odd concept which also worked. Unlike Groundhog, Ghostbusters is strictly for laughs -- which doesn't mean that it's dumb.

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Caddyshack Review


Excellent
No, they don't make 'em like this any more. Now you just can't make jokes about guys eating boogers and turdlike objects floating in the swimming pool -- not unless you want the FCC coming down on your ass! The absurd humor of Caddyshack is legend enough to merit little additional comment from me, but it's notable for featuring Chevy Chase in one of his most sophisticated roles -- but his deadpan dialogue is only the second-most quotable in the movie, after Bill Murray's infamous Carl Spackler, one of Murray's most ridiculous roles on film. The plot wanders around the golf course and involves a half-dozen elements, but if you simply dig the gopher, the caddy, and the Dangerfield, you're not going to be doing half bad.

Analyze That Review


Weak
Analyze This was a very successful 1999 comedy starring Robert De Niro as a mob boss on the verge of a nervous breakdown and Billy Crystal as his unwilling shrink. The movie pulled off a few laughs, most notably by demonstrating De Niro's ability to turn his tough-guy movie persona on its head. Analyze That is a superfluous sequel representing little more than an opportunity to cash in on that prior success.

The new movie picks up with legendary Mob boss Paul Vitti (De Niro) nearing the end of his term in Sing Sing and Dr. Ben Sobol (Billy Crystal) dealing with the recent death of his legendary father. After a series of attempts on his life, Vitti puts on a semi-catatonic act to avoid the general prison population and save his own life. The FBI, baffled by this turn of events, brings in Sobol, his former psychiatrist, to consult on the case, ultimately releasing Vitti into Sobol's custody. Thus, the reluctant doctor is forced to once again try to mend Vitti's fractured psyche, in addition to housing him and finding him an honest job. Needless to say, this wreaks havoc with the poor doctor's already troubled personal life.

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Multiplicity Review


Good
I hate it when a film sounds like it's going to be great, has a hilarious teaser-trailer, stars some wonderful actors, features a small role played by the daughter of one of my film review subscribers, and ends up falling a bit flat on the screen.

Such is the case with Multiplicity, the new Harold Ramis-Michael Keaton comedy about a guy who clones himself in order to get a little free time.

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Heavy Metal Review


Very Good
There wasn't a more seditious movie you could watch as a kid growing up in the 1980s than Heavy Metal, a film that not only relished in its sex, drugs, and rock and roll, but was animated, too. The collection of a handful of hand-drawn sci-fi vignettes are loosely connected by an evil, glowing green ball which tells its story (huh?) to a young girl it soon plans to kill. Some of the stories are funny. Some are gruesome. Some look cool. Some are drawn terribly. All of it amounts to a graphic, guilty pleasure that features a soundtrack from the era's biggest rock groups. And, uh, Stevie Nicks. Anyone from the era will love it, while everyone else simply won't get it at all.

Stripes Review


Extraordinary
This sloppy but popular comedy stands just behind Bill Murray's best movies -- Caddyshack, Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day, Lost in Translation -- in quality, but stands with them in establishing the film comedy as we now know it: irony-soaked, lowbrow, and funny. As late as the mid-'70s, too many film comedies were earnest, cute throwbacks without a single real laugh. (Thank God for Mel Brooks, who made the only consistently funny comedies of the decade.) Supposedly hilarious films like Shampoo and The Goodbye Girl (or insert another '70s comedy here... I'm having trouble remembering any of them) now seem naïve and lame -- all the more so for trying to be trendy and sophisticated. Such films tried harder to please the critics than the crowds, not by being highbrow but by being frothy.

All that was dead the moment Bill Murray threw the candy bar in the pool in Caddyshack. Critics hated Caddyshack, and called Saturday Night Live skits "mean-spirited," but for everyone else, it was finally OK to be crude, clever, offensive -- and funny. Subsequent films like Stripes, often featuring one or more cast members from SNL (Murray, et al.) or Second City TV (Harold Ramis, John Candy), set the mold. The formula hasn't needed much tweaking since then, either; the successful comedies of recent years (There's Something About Mary, American Pie, etc.) owe everything to them.

Continue reading: Stripes Review

Groundhog Day Review


Essential
Brilliant, quirky, good-natured, and smart are just some of the adjectives that we film critics don't get to use often enough, but all of them apply to Groundhog Day. Director/screenwriter Harold Ramis, actor Bill Murray, and everyone else involved with this film have all been responsible for their share of dogs. But this quirky, good-natured comedy is as good as it can be. Too rarely does a clever screenplay come along to give good actors a chance.

Murray's TV weatherman is a burnout with a bad attitude, a small fish in a small market, who affects the egotism and cynicism of all members of the press but knows that he's second-rate. Then, in a bizarre plot turn, he is thrown into a time warp where he is forced to live the same day over and over until he gets it right -- and to learn to appreciate life's blessings in the process.

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Orange County Review


Very Good
Forget She's All That and its brethren. Back in the 1980s, the maestro of teen films -- John Hughes (The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles) -- taught us to produce films in the finicky teen-comedy genre. His simple rule -- a single motivation is required for all main characters: lots and lots of angst. Just create a simple story of teenagers yearning to escape the downtrodden existence of childhood and the microcosm of high school, and success is surely guaranteed.

Life has been good for Shaun Brumder (Colin Hanks) in simple Orange County, California. He's a good kid with a love of catching waves, a sweet girlfriend, and despite his eccentric family, life is always like riding six-foot waves that curl for days. After a freak surfing accident drowns one of his best buds one summer, Shaun begins to reassess his life and inspiration strikes one day in the form of a novel by Marcus Skinner. He decides to become a writer, trades in his surfboard, improves his grades, and waits for his acceptance letter from Stanford College to study under his new idol Skinner. But when Stanford rejects him due to a guidance counselor's mistake, Shaun only has 24 hours to fix the problem and get the hell out of O.C. to follow his dreams and work out the angst.

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Ghostbusters II Review


Good
No one has ever accused Ghostbusters II of being a great film, or even a good one, for that matter. But getting beyond its atrociously Up With People plot -- if that's possible -- reveals that, hey, we've still got the original cast and crew, and they're all still pretty funny on the whole.

The story's the thing that kills GB2 right from the get-go, which picks up five years after the original: Our boys in brown saved the city, but now they're reduced to hosting cheesy psychic TV shows and begging for work, as most of the spirit disturbances have been cleaned up. Even Venkman (Bill Murray) didn't end up with Dana (Sigourney Weaver), who's now divorced and has (gasp) a baby, one which will figure centrally in the plot machinations later on, involving (double gasp) Peter MacNicol as a vaguely Eastern European art expert. Good lord.

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Animal House Review


Extraordinary
Youthful indescretion knows no better friend in cinema than the movie that defines it, Animal House. Every frame of the film typifies how every American recalls his college years, whether or not they were filled with debauchery. Especially beloved is John Belushi as Delta Tau Chi's Bluto, the worst cut-up in the most obnoxious fraternity at Faber College (motto: Knowledge is Good), but the entire cast is so perfect -- from Tom Hulce to Bruce McGill to Donald Sutherland -- that one has trouble finding a sour spot in the entire picture. Of note is the new Collector's Edition DVD, which features a 45-minute present-day interview with the cast and crew about the making of the film, plus behind-the-scenes footage of the production. A gem.

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Harold Ramis

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Harold Ramis

Date of birth

21st November, 1944

Date of death

24th February, 2014

Occupation

Actor

Sex

Male

Height

1.88


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Harold Ramis Movies

Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story Of National Lampoon Trailer

Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story Of National Lampoon Trailer

In the 1970s came the most controversial and accessible comedy ever seen. The National Lampoon...

Year One Movie Review

Year One Movie Review

The filmmakers and cast find a few great laughs in this flimsy premise, but the...

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Year One Trailer

Year One Trailer

Watch the trailer for Year OneHarold Ramis takes us on a journey back to year...

Knocked Up Movie Review

Knocked Up Movie Review

What separates the films and television series of Judd Apatow from the rom-com epidemic (I...

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Knocked Up Trailer

Knocked Up Trailer

On the heels of 2005's blockbuster The 40-Year-Old Virgin, writer/director Judd Apatow again mines hilarity...

Analyze That Movie Review

Analyze That Movie Review

Analyze This was a very successful 1999 comedy starring Robert De Niro as a mob...

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