I think we can all agree that Ghostbusters was a masterpiece. It came out in 1984 with an all star cast and is universally beloved to this day. Five years later, Ghostbusters II came out to less than popular reviews. It didn’t do exactly what people wanted and for some reason it gets a lot grief. But I love it.
I love the dancing toaster. I love the talking painting. I even love the ridiculous peace sign logo, even if it makes no sense. I was nine when Ghostbusters II came out and I watched The Real Ghostbusters religiously. I wore pyjamas that I pretended were a Ghostbuster’s jumpsuit, I sucked down Hi-C Ecto Cooler by the gallon, and I travelled everywhere with a Tombstone Tackle Ghost and I don’t even like football! The fact that I was a kid might have been an influence because Ghostbusters II is very much a kid’s movie.
So maybe I was always going to love the sequel, or maybe I just saw it at the right age to ignore the so called flaws. Either way, I feel the way The Phantom Menace fans must feel. But am I crazy or is Ghostbusters II maybe not as bad as we you remember? Here are 3 reasons I love Ghostbusters II.
1. It’s a Celebration of the Characters of the Original
Almost the entire original cast came back for the sequel.
No one from Sigourney Weaver, to Rick Moranis, to Bill Freaking Murray was too busy to reprise their role for Ghostbusters II and this was never the case again. There was talk of a third movie for decades but Murray was usually completely uninterested or only willing to come back as a ghost. And Moranis actually made so much money from the Honey I Shrunk the Kids franchise that he retired from acting altogether. But in Ghostbusters II, the characterization is perfect and we get to see life after busting.
Ray Stantz, the heart of the Ghostbusters, is still out there lugging around a proton pack and fighting hordes of drooling 9 year olds just to keep the spirit alive. He was also the true believer of the group and runs an occult bookstore. Egon and Peter have moved on but you can tell Ray has to be around it.
Winston is the blue collar every man who was willing to put up with terror dogs and hundred foot marshmallow men for another 5 k a year. Naturally he’s there with Ray, braving sticky fingered preteens who’d rather have He-Man at their party, all to make a few bucks. Unlike some of the other guys this is very much a job for Winston. He’ll keep strapping on the pack and being insulted by 9 year olds as long as the money is decent.
Egon is torturing children by taking away their puppies, for science! And he’s still so weird. In one scene he reveals that his parents didn’t believe in toy scene he reveals that his parents didn’s. “I had part of a slinky once. I straightened it.” Of course you did, Egon, of course you did. This is after all the man who collects “spores, mold and fungus”.
And Peter Venkman was always out for a quick buck. He was a fast talking, morally ambiguous conman with a heart of… well it was probably gold plated any way. Naturally, he’s hosting a sleazy talk show: The World of the Psychic. As a bonus, an actual psychic is there predicting the end of the world on New Year’s Eve. Venkman belittles and ignores him in a sort of call back to the poor kid getting the electric shocks in Ghostbusters while our resident poor scientist is more interested flirting with the co-ed. Ghostbusters II is criticized for having jokes geared more towards kids, but Peter is still creepy. At their trial it is mentioned that the ‘busters could be legally exposing themselves if they help with the vengeful ghosts running amuck. In classic Venkman style he says “And you don’t want us exposing ourselves.”
2. The Ghostbusters are the Underdogs Again.
They went out on top in the first movie having shown this prehistoric bitch how we do things downtown. They saved the world, Venkman got the girl, and they left the building Elvis-style amid throngs of adoring fans.
Just like in any (good) Rocky sequel you can’t have the ‘busters start on top of the world and stay there for the next 90 minutes. They need adversity. They need a character arc. So we find that the Ghostbusters lost it all after the final credits rolled last time. The city skipped out on the tab, they got sued by every one under the sun and the boys in grey are under a judicial “restrangement” order that prevents them from working as paranormal investigators. Much like Rocky 3 we’re now back to square one so play the music, start the ghostbusting montage and let’s do this.
Then there’s the triumphant moment when the team is at last back together again, cracking heads on the ethereal plane. This is Rocky 2 when he succeeds in running up all the steps. It just feels so good to watch.
3. It’s the Perfect Kid’s Movie.
Ghostbusters had a more adult tone, but by the time Ghostbusters II came along The Real Ghostbusters were dominating Saturday mornings and selling action figures hand over fist. Sure Ghostbusters II appeals to a younger crowd, but it was meant to. And honestly, there’s nothing wrong with setting out to make a movie aimed at kids, selling it to kids, and… I’m going to shock you here: actually having it work. As a kid, I never noticed the inconsistencies between one and two. All I knew was that my heroes were back on the big screen and there were a lot of laughs. So maybe there’s a dancing toaster and the Statue of Liberty is being driven down the street by an NES joystick, but this is a franchise that was built on the back of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. It’s meant to be a little silly.
I love Ghostbusters II. It’s by no means a popular opinion, but it’s mine. You may not like it, but that’s none of my business.