But I’ve always thought. Wait a minute! How did anyone come to any sort of consensus back in the day of a films quality. So let us examine Ghostbusters 2 and it’s reputation/legacy.
So let us go back to 1989 shall we? Cheers & The Cosby Show ruled the ratings on TV, George Bush is President of the United States and the long awaited sequel to one of the biggest comedies ever made is finally coming to a theatre near you. Ghostbusters 2!
But..you’re a curious individual. You want to know what critics think of this new Ghostbusters sequel that’s coming out. What do you do? There’s no internet(well...not really), no rottentomatoes.com, no Metacritic. So, what are the biggest papers in the country with the widest circulation? New York Times & Washington Post. The paper Hollywood insiders use? Variety. So how does a film get billed as a critical failure or darling? Well, if you want to know if a film is quality or not, these are some of the top choices Americans of that era would use.
Now. What if I told you all 3 of those papers of record gave Ghostbusters 2 a positive review? Not only that, but some thought it an improvement on the original. But what about the average Jane & Joe? What did they think? Well GB2’s cinemascore(the average rating patrons give after seeing a movie) was a very respectable A-(comedies are often extremely varied).
So. We’ve got 3 of the major papers giving the film a positive review. It’s opening weekend box office breaks records. An A- Cinema Score. So how does Ghostbusters 2 get the reputation it had for the majority of its lifespan?
Enter the two most famous film critics to walk the earth. Siskel & Ebert. They crucify Ghostbusters 2. Both enjoyed the first film. Here’s what they had to say:
Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel notwithstanding, you could almost forgive Ivan Reitman, Harold Ramis, Dan Aykroyd & especially Sony errr “Columbia” for being fairly pleased with how their sequel is doing in this extremely crowded summer tent pole season. The production was a rushed chaos of biblical proportions, with reshoots and release date changes happening extremely late in the game. But positive reviews in the Times and Post? Plus Variety? Biggest opening weekend of all time? Things are looking good.
But we all know how this story ends, don’t we? The summer of 1989 had other plans in store for our heroes. Bat-mania was about to hit and swallow up everything in the zeitgeist without a cape or tights. After that first weekend, Ghostbusters 2 would go down in history as one of the most disappointing sequels to a cultural phenomenon.
So is it that simple? A couple negative reviews from the biggest critics of the era, less box office and Batman?
I think so. I think without Batman, Ghostbusters 2 would’ve ended up with around the same amount as the 3rd Indiana Jones film, which opened in May ‘89. Without that massive box office drop, you’d have a more positive spin on the films financial performance. And the only negative cultural notices would be Siskel & Ebert. If we *really* want to get into alt history, who knows how that could’ve changed the franchise. Would we have had a 3rd film in the mid 1990s? Probably not. But maybe? Maybe Murray sees the sequel in a different light.
Alas time would be kinder to Ghostbusters 2 than 1989 was. The film, still viewed as a lesser instalment by most, has had numerous cheerleader articles over the last 8-10 years. With the passing of Harold Ramis, there’s a bitter sweetness that the films holds between it’s 24 frames per second. Seeing these cultural icons share the screen one last time, with their easy laid back chemistry, is nothing if not mesmerizing. I love the familiarity in scenes like “Rays Occult” or the toaster dance. I love spending time with these actors playing these characters.
I love Ghostbusters 2.