Wed
Jun 29 2011 4:32pm

Slime Time: 5 Reasons Why Ghostbusters 2 Is Better Than You Remember It

Sometimes a thing is repeated so often, everyone starts to believe it. This is particularly true in discussions of pop culture. Throughout the web, fans and critics try to correct for this, resulting in lists of books, albums, and films which are either overrated, underrated, or sometimes—like in the case of this Chuck Klosterman band list—rated exactly as they should be. But in popular SFF films, one movie gets unfairly persecuted more than many. And that movie is Ghostbusters 2. Here are five reasons why it’s much better than everyone seems to think it is.

The Jokes

Both Ghostbusters films are fairly unique in the genres of science fiction/fantasy films insofar as they are both genuinely comedies. Perhaps the only other film series that blends this sensibility as well is Back to the Future. In any case, if either Ghostbusters wasn’t funny, it wouldn’t work. We’re all constantly quoting from the first film, but the second movie has a lot of great jokes too. From Peter MacNicol’s entrance (“everything you’re doing is bad, I want you to know this”) to Egon’s bizarre experiments involving puppies and marriage counseling (“let’s see what happens when we take away the puppy”), to Peter Venkamn’s television show, World of the Psychic (“hairless pets, weird”) and, of course, Rick Moranis’s fantastically clueless Louis Tully (“come on we’re both lawyers”).

But my favorite bit probably comes when Ray, Egon and Winston bust in on Peter and Dana’s dinner, covered in slime and in their underwear: “Boys, boys, you’re scaring the straights.”

The Comeback

The movie picks up five years after the first film, and depicts a pretty bleak situation for the Ghostbusters. Not only did the public turn against them, but the government too. Ray and Winston have even resorted to going to birthday parties and singing their own theme song to disinterested children. This brief commentary on how quickly society forgets its heroes is pretty poignant. To make matters worse, we learn that Peter and Dana didn’t stay together, and Dana is now a single mother. Then in the early scenes of the movie, the Ghostbusters get arrested! If all of these scenes weren’t so funny, they’d be heartbreaking. This makes their comeback in the middle of the movie all the more satisfying. When the Ghostbusters are briefly thrown into a mental instution towards the third act, the tension and the set-up for the final comeback is awesome. The Ghostbusters are a lot like real people in this way; they’re constantly messing up, but always dusting themselves off and trying again.

The Slime

So it turns out the reason everyone is in such a bad mood in New York City is the fault of people’s negativity, but it’s being made worse by the pink mood slime running around underground. The fact that negativity is actually made into a manifest substance gives the Ghostbusters a formidable enemy. Sure, they’re also fighting Viggo the Carpathian, but the notion that everyone being in a bad mood is the real enemy is pretty compelling. Egon points out it would take a tremendous amount of negative energy to generate a flow of that size, to which Winston replies, “New York, what a town.” This is nice because it’s a mirror of his line at the end of the first film in which he says, “I love this town.” It seems like hard times have made everyone a little more cynical. In this way, slime serves as a great and literal lubricate for the drama throughout the movie.

The Statue of Liberty Walks

Standing on Liberty Island, Peter reminds us that Lady Liberty is, in fact, French. And then they cover the insides of her with slime and make her walk. If you’re describing this sequence to someone who has never seen the movie, you’ll realize how great it sounds. The Ghostbusters make the Statue of Liberty walk through the streets of New York. I’ve seen this movie countless times, and I’m still surprised at how awesome that is. Sure, the statue isn’t to scale, and some of the effects look corny now, and the whole thing is pretty much out of nowhere. But the scene in which the Ghostbusters repel down on ropes from the crown of the statue is priceless.

It’s Another Ghostbusters Movie

The whole concept of the Ghostbusters, even just abstractly, is so great that any kind of sequel would have been a treat for fans. If you walk in on any given scene of this movie, you’ll know it’s not the first one. There’s a freshness and scrappiness to the first movie that isn’t present in the sequel, and yet it feels like a Ghostbusters movie. Though a sequel to Ghostbusters probably wasn’t necessary, Ghostbusters 2, despite rumors to the contrary, is not a bad movie. Almost all the scenes have great dialogue, the conflict is interesting, the ghost stuff is scary when it needs to be, and it has a satisfying climax. And just like the first film, it has a lot of heart.

But what did you think? All the way back in 1989 were you really that upset? Or if you caught the movies on TV or video or DVD, would you ever give Ghostbusters 2 the reverence you gave Ghostbusters uno?


Ryan Britt is a staff writer for Tor.com.

29 comments
INCyr
1. INCyr
Thank you! I've never understood the dislike for this movie. Sure, it's not as great or classic as the first, I don't think anyone would argue that. But it's still fun, funny and quite watchable. I own it on DVD, and am proud to do so.
INCyr
2. John R. Ellis
I don't hate the film. I just find it to be boring and unfunny.

It also lacks the quotable lines that (let's face it) are the main reason why the original film inspired such enduring devotion.
INCyr
3. Lsana
I really liked this movie when I saw it. Of course, I think I was 8 at the time, maybe 9, and went in knowing nothing about the first movie except that it had a cool theme song. In the years since, I haven't wanted to re-watch the movie, afraid that now that I have seen the first one and developed a modicum of taste, I might not like it. And I didn't want to spoil the memories of how much fun it was back as a child.

Maybe I shouldn't be afraid to give it another try...
Ben HM3
4. BenHM3
“Boys, boys, you’re scaring the straights.”
Gotta be one of my top 10 fave movie quotes. I must disagree with Mr. Ellis, but am happy to regard his feelings and opinion about the movie as just as heartfelt as mine.

I'm grinning like an idiot just thinking about how much fun G2 was.
Ryan Britt
5. ryancbritt
@2 John

Yeah, I guess I think there are a lot of funny lines. "We figured there were already so many holes in 1st avenue, nobody would notice."

And as I mentioned, "Is the atomic weight of cobalt 58.9?" So good.

Now, could these funny lines compete, pound for pound with the first film? Maybe not. But sometimes I forget that the scaring the straights line and atomic weight of cobalt AREN'T from the first one.
Rob Vitaro
6. rvitaro
I saw GB2 in the theatres, opening weekend. I remember it vividly because I had a ton of candy on my lap and didn't eat ANY of it once the film started. I don't know if this is physically possible, but I distinctly remember wondering to myself when it was over: Did I ever blink?

Now, granted, I was 10, and I wanted to be a ghostbuster more than anything in the world. I could recite the entire first movie verbatim, I had my own home-made proton pack, and I was always Peter when I played with my friends. Naturally, I was going to love this movie, even if it was bad.

But it wasn't isn't.

Thanks for this article, couldn't have written it better myself.

(PS: You left out, "Why am I drippings with goo?")
INCyr
7. TheBusinessUnit
Yeah, seconded on the goo line. That guy's career peaked right there; forget Ally McBeal.
C C
8. Hatgirl
I was 8 when Ghostbusters 2 came out. Until the internet arrived, I wasn't aware it was considered to be anything less than a great film. Sorry Internet, in this case you're dead wrong. Ghostbusters 2 is a fine film.

Peter to baby Oscar: "Named after a hot dog, you poor man."
INCyr
9. wingracer
Reason #6:

Jackie F'in Wilson baby!
INCyr
10. Charlener
entertaining article, but multiple typos and grammatical errors...needs a bit more rigorous editing.
Ashe Armstrong
11. AsheSaoirse
I saw it in theaters when it came out at the tender age of 4 because Ghostbusters was, is and always will be my jam, yo. Always. And yes, it's NOT as good as the first but it's still good and I still constantly use the "scaring the straights" line. Not to mention, "HE IS VIGO! Yooouuu are like the buzzing of flies to him!"
Kerwin Miller
12. tamyrlink
i LOVED this movie when i was a kid (born in 1986 lol) and i still know every word to this movie. (albeit a bit off in places lol)
Sarah Hale
13. rocketshale
My friends will still, from time to time, randomly say "He is VIGO!"
Marcus W
14. toryx
Peter MacNicol’s pretty awesome in everything I've seen him in.

Anyway, I was definitely disappointed by the movie and still am. It's basically got sequelitis. But I have to admit, the last time I watched it (it was on TNT or something) I was surprised by how many of my favorite quotable lines that I thought were from the first movie actually turned out to be from the second.

All things considered, it wasn't what I had been hoping for but it's definitely better than Matrix: Reloaded (which will forever be my benchmark for bad sequels) so that's good.
INCyr
15. EricP
I was 8 the first time I saw it. As, at the time, I thought Ghostbusters were the best thing ever (second perhaps only to Ninja Turtles), I loved it. In retrospect though, I have some gripes.

My main problem with the movie is that it's a sequel that pretends the events of the first movie didn't happen. In the first movie, a giant Stay Puffed Marshmallow Man walks up Broadway, the Titanic docks, and some large number of ghosts appear throughout the city. Yet at the opening of the second movie, everyone thinks it was a hoax? Makes no sense.

My second problem with the movie is that there's no *third* movie. Which isn't the movies fault, but Hollywood has conditioned me to think of movie franchises as three act stories. The first one can always stand on its own, but a sequel demands there also be a concluding chapter. Thus Ghostbusters II feels like the middle child of a family of two; watching it I always feel like something is missing.

On the other hand, they use a NES Advantage to drive the Statue of Liberty. There are precious few movies in history that approach anything as awesome as that.
Evan Langlinais
16. Skwid
My favorite parts of GB2 are Peter MacNicols, who is just totally awesome, and the soul music animating the inanimate.

"Egon...you haven't been sleeping with the slime, have you?"
Ryan Britt
17. ryancbritt
@15 Eric
Ah, but the Titanic docks in Ghostbusters 2 not in Ghostbusters Uno. Further proof our memories confuse the two films!
INCyr
18. Christopher Zeidel
The most interesting thing about Ghostbusters 2 is its art vs. commercialism theme, in which it criticizes the commercialism of the original film. The film starts out with the Ghostbusters no longer being corporate commercial products. The children at the party prefer He-Man. Vigo the Carpathian has put himself into an art gallery; a painting, and he is basically threatening to destroy art. The Ghostbusters must learn how to be in business without being corporate products, and by the end when they have defeated Vigo, we see them in a painting rather than seeing people in the streets with Ghostbusters T-Shirts like in the original; thus art triumphing over commercialism and the Ghostbusters can still fight ghosts without being corporate products. This is the most poignant thing, and is far more interesting than what we saw in the first film. A criminally underrated film.

Plus, Egon's line about the slinky is one of the funniest lines I have ever heard in a movie.
INCyr
19. doh.. ray... EGON!!!!!!!!
Heres hoping GB3 doesnt feature the main cast for the first 10 mins to introduce 'the new'.. that look awfully reminiscent of the cast.. from The Vampire Diaries! lol. or worse still.. Big Brother. Ouch! GB2 wasnt not as scary as the first, or as funny, but its still alot of fun. I didnt agree with the film reviewers either-the sequel had not run out of ideas, and was not a mere rehash. Sure, it copied the 'big ending', instead of a guy made from marshmallow walking the streets, we had the statue of liberty instead, but thats it. It had to have that 'massive' ending or it wouldnt have felt right. As for the main storyline, there are more interesting ideas in this than many, if not all, comedy movies today. A river of emotional slime leading up to a NY gallery, whereas lies a baby stealing owner, and a medieval guy trapped in a painting that wants to ressurect himself? Im pretty sure that hadnt been done before! ill take that over any post-millenial fantasy sci fi comedy movie :D if I can think of any.
JoeNotCharles
20. JoeNotCharles
GB1 was a classic movie. GB2 was merely a very good one.

If GB1 hadn't existed to compare it to, GB2 would have been a cult favourite like Buckaroo Banzai or Army of Darkness.

The main thing that suffers compared to GB1 - and it's a big one - is that the effects are crappier. The ghosts look like rubber puppets with a glow filter, while in the first one they looked distinctly ethereal and weird. Just compare the two Slimers to see. And the pink slime looks really fake compared to the first movie's ectoplasm. Basically a lack of texture. Everything's more cartoony, whereas the first movie had just the right amount of cartooniness for the concept.

(This extends to the characters, too - Louis and Janine are caricatures of their characters in the first movie, which is pretty amazing for Louis since he was already a caricature. Caricature Louis is funnier than the first movie's sad-sack Louis - which is also pretty amazing - so this doesn't completely sink the movie, but it makes it feel pretty different.)
INCyr
21. NickT25
" career peaked right there; forget Ally McBeal."

What about "NUMB3RS"? He was quite good in that. Oh, and, don't forget that he was in "BEAN," where he played...an art curator. And Harris Yulin (the judge) was his employer.

Also also, he was on "Chicago Hope" in 95-96, and I think he used his Janosz voice...I only remember when his character was dying in the hospital of a gunshot wound.
=================

There's quite a bit of other stuff to look out for in the second one. Most notably, the kids like "He-Man," which was made by Filmation (and--interesting sidenote--whose earliest videotapes were released by Columbia-Tristar/Magic Window, which also put out RGB).

Filmation, of course, also produced their own version of the Ghostbusters in '86. By the time of GB2, Filmation was all but dead and buried; the Ninja Turtles vanquished the GBs by that time as well.

Two competing/warring factions of ghostbusters, united in defeat. Who'da thunk it?
INCyr
22. Magistra
Of course the first movie is superior. That said, I think G2 is hilarious (second the Oscar hot dog joke!). Viggo is genuinely creepy. My one big complaint is with the totally stupid painting of the Ghostbusters at the very end. Renaissance? No. Pure 80s.
INCyr
23. jacko
Just watched 'em both back to back -- the second one has better lines.

"The world will be mine and Vigo's! Well, mainly Vigo's"
INCyr
24. Cold Drake
I love this movie
INCyr
25. Jamiejlinson
Ghostbusters 2 is awesome and a classic. Pure and simple.
INCyr
26. Togoshi
'We had a slinky, but I straightened it' classic film
INCyr
27. Emily Bearpyjamas
I actually watched both films back-to-back recently, and I seriously cannot cognitivly grasp just -why- there is so much disdain over Ghostbusters 2. Is it that most people who dislike it haven't seen it in years, or are folks just -that- nit-picky?

I think both movies are great, and very much so compliment one another. However the more I think about it, the more I wonder if Ghostbusters 2 is the better movie. I definitely laughed out loud a whole lot more, and there are so many memorable scenes. "Do ... Ray ... Egon~!"
INCyr
28. Aria Clements
You probably don't want to know how much I've always loved both of these movies, the second more than the first, to be honest. I've seen both movies at least 500 times (literally), and every single time, when Winton calls "Hello!" in the subway...and hears, "Wiiiinstooooooon..." it's creepy as fuck! And the that ghost train! Holy crap. Great touch with the Titanic even though the damage ended up being wrong (in 1989, they didn't get have confirmation of the actual damage). Slimer drives the bus. :D Vigo the Carpathian is a god among bad guys. Seriously, who wouldn't recognize his image?

Louis is so oblivious that I can't help but love him as much as I'm annoyed by him. I always feel embarassed for him, yet want to protect the little dork. He thought he helped at the end of the second movie. I hope he never found out that he actually accomplished nothing. Who doesn't want the guy to keep some of that pride? What jerk could want his feelings hurt with the truth? Can I give him a hug now?

As soon as these movies were out on DVD years ago, I bought them. They are classics, and they deserve to be treated as such.
INCyr
29. kriss
Viggy Viggy Viggy, you have been a bad monkey

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