The Test of Time: Ghostbusters II (1989)

We all have certain movies we love. Movies we respect without question because of either tradition, childhood love, or because they’ve always been classics. However, as time keeps ticking, do those classics still hold up? Do they remain must see? So…the point of this column is to determine how a film holds up for a modern horror audience, to see if it stands the Test of Time.

Director: Ivan Reitman
Starring: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Sigourney Weaver

The time has finally arrived where one of the most hotly debated topics of the year will come to a solid conclusion. And no, this debate has nothing to do with politics or political rallies. Instead, it’s time for all to judge whether or not Paul Feig’s GHOSTBUSTERS reboot is either an abomination or the anti-Christ (in movie form) or an entertaining movie that’s actually good. Only time will tell.

However, people seem to forget that GHOSTBUSTERS was whored out the moment it became a franchise. So with ladies answering the ghost call this weekend, it seems like a dandy time to see if the first expansion of one of my favorite films holds up against the test of time.

Under the examination: GHOSTBUSTERS II.

The boys need a new hobby.

THE STORY: Five years after the ending of the original film (where our Ghostbusters saved NYC from a giant walking marshmallow), the gang has landed on tough times. Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) and Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson) make appearances at birthday parties for cash while Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) continues to “science” things and Peter Venkman hosts a low rent talk show. Meanwhile, a massive amount of ectoplasm flows under the city thanks to an evil spirit and a big painting. For some reason, this painting wants Peter’s ex-flame Dana Barrett’s (Sigourney Weaver) baby Oscar. Can the boys get back together one last time to save the day?

Aykroyd's head looks even bigger up close.

WHAT STILL HOLDS UP: GHOSTBUSTERS remains one of the best big budget comedies of all time, and while GHOSTBUSTERS II isn’t on the same level, there’s still plenty of entertainment to be found. Of course, creating a sequel to one of the biggest hits of all time is a tough task ($242 million in 1984…or $610 million adjusted today). For the most part, the premise works here. The guys have a new evil to battle who seems more sinister than ever. I really like the Vigo character and the painting. Even more, his appointed henchman Dr. Janosz Poha (Peter MacNicol) damn near steals to show. These actors have terrific timing together and they actually all look like they’re friends (they were at some point). It’s great to see them all together once again.

If anything, GHOSTBUSTERS II works because of the original premise. We’re all willing to go on the ride again. The movie does have some great moments. I still really enjoy the courtroom sequence, especially where Peter keeps feeding their overmatched attorney Louis Tully (Rick Moranis) lines. Then there’s solid moments like the boys talking shit to the ectoplasm stuck in the plastic bowl and Peter names it “mood slime” (even if the toaster scene is kinda dumb). I’m also impressed that the heart of the movie remains Peter and Dana. Even if parts feel duplicated, Murray and Weaver work. We still care about them, and without their splintered relationship, the film would only be gags and jokes without purpose.

"Let's have dinner.I only look creepy at work." 

WHAT BLOWS NOW: Probably the worst thing about GHOSTBUSTERS II comes from the standard Hollywood sequel thinking. Things feel a bit over bloated. Take everything that originally worked, and multiply it by two! Yes, bigger jokes, bigger ghosts, and bigger heads (seriously, it’s amazing how much larger Dan Aykroyd’s head is here). As much as I love a lot of Aykroyd and Murray’s work, this way the start to a downturn for both of them. This marked Aykroyd’s last good comedy (in the following years he made NOTHING BUT TROUBLE, CONEHEADS, and one of the most uncomfortable movies ever made EXIT TO EDEN). Murray has some great moments here, but he also looks like he phones it in some. GHOSTBUSTERS II also ends up getting ridiculous with the whole walking Statue of Liberty and all. I found myself checking the runtime towards the third act, which is never a good sign.

Enjoy the sequel while it lasted, boys.

THE VERDICT: Let’s make this easy. GHOSTBUSTERS II is not GHOSTBUSTERS. It’s close. It has everything that you loved about the first film, but unfortunately, not everything needs a sequel. The original worked because it felt fresh and pretty f^cking original. The sequel is anything but that. It remains enjoyable, but a classic only in its title.



More money!



Latest Movie News Headlines