Wednesday, February 26, 2014

R.I.P. Harold Ramis, An All-Time Comedy Legend

R.I.P Harold Ramis
1944-2014 (Age 69)

Harold Ramis passed away today at the age of 69.  Although he was probably most well known for his role as Dr. Egon Spengler in the Ghostbuster movies, Ramis was one of the most influential comedy writers and directors in Hollywood over the past 50 years.

He is responsible for some of the most iconic comedy films in history and it was a shame he wasn't more renowned for his part in not only writing, starring in, and directing comedy, but for influencing heavily, some of the biggest directorial names in comedy, such as Judd Apatow and the Farrelly brothers.

It's a shame that he died before getting a chance to be celebrated for how much laughter he's brought to audiences over the years with some sort of lifetime achievement award, but that just seems to be the way things go. You don't appreciate what you had until it's gone.  And Harold Ramis definitely fits that mantra.

Here's my Top Ten projects that Ramis touched in one way or another, either by acting, writing, or directing.

Honorable Mentions: 
Directed Episodes of The Office.
Wrote/Directed one of my guilty pleasure movies, Bedazzled, which had Elizabeth Hurley at her apex and found every excuse to dress her in every sexual fantasy outfit you could think of.

Directed The Ice Harvest, an underrated dark comedy.
Played Don Durkett, the dean tripping out on ecstasy in Orange County.

I never saw SCTV (Second City Television), but it was basically the Canadian version of SNL that starred the likes of John Candy, Catherine O'Hara, Eugene Levy, and Ramis in its first cast.

And here's my Top Ten for Harold Ramis, basically a list of some of the most prolific comedy of the last 30 or so years...that's all.

10. Knocked Up - Acted in as Ben's Dad

Maybe one of the coolest and most laid back dads in a film in a long time.  He liked to smoke weed and was just happy and chilled out.  The fact that he looked and sounded like he could legitimately be Seth Rogen's dad had me questioning whether they were related in real life after seeing this.

9. Meatballs - Written By

I'll admit that Meatballs was a little before my time but if I had been born about 7 years earlier, this movie would have been a staple in my childhood. Unfortunately, sometimes movies that are geared towards teens age so quickly that they don't appeal much to kids a couple years after they come out.  I think that's probably why I never thought Porky's was very funny.

8. Analyze This & Analyze That - Written and Directed By

These two movies were basically the same movie so I'm lumping them together.  It wasn't really my bag of tea here either but I think that has to do with me not being the biggest Billy Crystal fan to begin with more than anything else.

7. Back To School - Written By

Now here's a movie that I can get behind.  Anytime you have Billy Zabka as your main villain, I'm 100% in.  Oh, what's that you say?  He's the bad boy villain of a college diving team?  IN.  And he's only the B-Story.  The A-Story is Rodney Dangerfield going back to college as a 50-something year old and doing his whole Rodney Dangerfield schtick?  I want to watch this over and over...which is what I did growing up since it always seemed to be on.

6. National Lampoon's Vacation - Written and Directed by

The start of the Griswold franchise of movies and a staple of comedic film.

5. Animal House - Written by

Although Animal House may be my favorite movie of any movie that he is involved in, the next four movies of his he either wrote and directed or wrote and starred in, so they'll get the nod over Animal House for now.  But come on, who doesn't love animal house?  I'm a zit....GET IT!

4. Stripes - Written by and Starred in

That's the fact...Jack!  One of the most classic comedies of the 80's and one that he actually got to be in to show off his comedic chops as well.  It didn't hurt his top 4 movies that he just happen to be best friends with the great Bill Murray, but then again, it's also an awesome thing that Scorsese and Leo love working together too isn't it?

3. Caddyshack- Written and Directed by

If you have a drunk friend who has seen this movie or if you have ever been golfing before, than you've heard this scene done incredibly terribly right in front of you.  Before Happy Gilmore, this was pretty much the only movie about golfing and cornered the market on it.  Now you have two great comedies but Caddyshack has a place in the comedy Hall of Fame.

2. Ghostbusters - Written by and Starred in as Dr. Egon Spengler

I love that joke from Ghostbusters 2.  Just so clever and quick.  Get it and get out.  It's a shame that there's not going to be another Ghostbusters movie now that Ramis has passed away.  I would have been interesting to see what they would have done with the characters so far removed from the last movie.  And come on, what kid from the 90's didn't love The Ghostbusters?

1. Groundhog Day - Written by, Directed by, and a small cameo as the Neurologist

Hands down, one of my favorite comedies of all time.  Should have been nominated for Best Picture if they actual ever nominated comedies for Best Picture.

Based on all of these all-time comedies, I'm finally willing to give him a pass on Year One.