RIP Harold Ramis
Wow. Within the first year of my blog, too many talented and inspiring people in show business have already died. Especially artists that I feel I have a connection too.
I can't discuss the importance of Harold Ramis without mentioning "Ghostbusters." I have discussed that movie already on this blog, but it is one of my favorite films of all time. It has been all my life. I don't mean that to be hyperbolic or exaggerated, it has been on my personal list of ten favorite films literally all my life. When I was barely five years of age, my Grandma Hoelscher and I had a tradition. Every time we got together, we would watch "Ghostbusters" or "Ghostbusters 2" or both. For the longest time growing up, I had a Spengler action figure. I played with that action figure so much that most of the paint rubbed off it and his arm fell off. (The arm I actually duck-tapped back on.) Both of those movies have been apart of my life, connected to my DNA. Those films are not only some of my favorite films of all time, they are some of my favorite things period.
Part of the reason those films worked for me was because of the work done by Harold Ramis.
Ramis had a central role in both films as Dr. Egon Spengler, the intelligent voice of reason within the group of Ghostbusters. Spengler was the source of smart, offbeat humor. He didn't burst of the screen in the same way that Pete Venkman and Ray Statz did, but he added to the flavor and mythology those films created. Ramis himself also co-wrote the film, which just goes to show just how talented a man he really was.
But Ramis' merits don't stop at "Ghostbusters," he's not important to me because he was involved with one of my most treasured possessions, he was partially responsible for the first golden age of comedy. Ramis wrote and/or directed "Meatballs," "Caddyshack," "Stripes," "National Lampoons' Vacation," and "Groundhog Day." These are not just great comedies, these movies arguably defined the longevity of the genre in the 1980's and early 1990's. I love each of those films listed above, can't imagine NOT liking them. As I look at comedy today, it doesn't look like a genre anybody can master. But Ramis was able to make comedic films come off as effortless.
He made several appearances in other comedies throughout the late 1990's and 2000's. One of my personal favorites was in "Orange County," which is easily one of the most overlooked and underrated comedies of the new millennium. In that movie, Ramis starred with Colin Hanks and Jack Black. He played the dean at Stanford University and Hanks' character requested his help in getting accepted into the university. Even though Ramis made a small appearance in that movie, he made a long-lasting one.
I can't even imagine looking at "Ghostbusters" in the same way knowing that our beloved Dr. Spengler is dead. Comedy lost a legend today, a true master of the genre. The genre may not be the same again, but I will always remember all of the wonderful work Ramis was responsible for.