Everyone knows Harold Ramis for his role as Egon Spangler in “Ghostbusters”. Actually, he was more than a gifted actor. As an accomplished comedy screenwriter and director, Ramis has a film career that deserves everybody’s veneration.
Comedy is a film genre that doesn’t always get proper respect. The truth is, though, if you take away all the jokes, comedy is actually a drama in disguise. Let’s take “National Lampoon’s Vacation”, for example. Underneath, it’s a story about a fairly fragmented family who just wants to go on vacation to be with each other for once. Harold Ramis proved that through his storytelling abilities as a screenwriter, director and actor using characters and stories we could all relate to.
Along with writers and directors like Douglas Kenney, Chris Miller and Ivan Reitman, he helped in paving the way for future comedy directors and screenwriters. Many of the comedies of today clearly draw inspiration from these movies. Harold Ramis may not be around anymore but his legacy will not be forgotten. The list will go through the top 10 films from his career.
10. Analyze That (2002)
This is, of course, the sequel to 1999’s “Analyze This”, which Ramis directed and co-wrote. He does the same for this sequel where we follow Paul Vitti getting out of prison and, once again, ending up in the care of Dr. Ben Sobol. This time, though, Sobol must have Vitti living under the roof of his home in an attempt to make him live a straight life and not a criminal life.
We get some pretty funny scenes of DeNiro trying to fit into society by working regular jobs such as a car salesman. Crystal and DeNiro show that same great chemistry they had like in the first film, but it came off as a carbon copy of the first movie at times. We get most of the same gags of being a mobster and the same banter between Crystal and DeNiro. It’s funny, but a little too familiar. It also does a nice job of raising the question, “Can a criminal be converted into living a straight life?”
9. Bedazzled (2000)
This remake of the 1967 film was directed and co-written by Ramis. In this version we get Brendan Fraser as Elliot, your typical loser. He’s lonely guy with no friends or girlfriend in his life. At a bar, he meets the woman of his dreams, Alison.
When he awkwardly tries to talk to her and fails, another woman gets his attention. She claims to be the Devil, played by Elizabeth Hurley. The Devil tells Elliot that she knows of his lonely lifestyle and wants to help him by granting him seven wishes to make his dreams come true. Elliot tries different ways to win over Alison.
“Bedazzled” is a bit predictable in its plot and some of the gags become a bit repetitive, but much like Ramis’ others films, it follows the common theme of a man who’s life who’s going through a surreal, but humorous event (i.e. “Groundhog Day” and “Multiplicity”). Brendan Fraser has some funny moments and Ramis’ story does have strong message with a satisfying ending.
8. Ghostbusters II (1989)
This isn’t as good as the first one, of course. There’s not nearly as much humor and the plot isn’t as fresh. That being said, though, the special effects is really good. They hold up pretty well even in 2014. The story also kept my attention throughout, despite not being fresh.
The scene that they do battle with the Scoleri Brothers in the courtroom and are back together again with their equipment is so impressive. It is also hilarious when the guys get out their weapons and turn them on one at time in the tune of “Do-Re-Mi” and Ramis utters “Egonnnnnn!”
7. Analyze This (1999)
When talking about the sequel, this was a very fun watch. The chemistry between Crystal and DeNiro is hilarious.The late Joe Viterelli who plays Jelly also deserves mention. His delivery and timing was just spot on.
Ramis did a great job of satirizing the mobster lifestyle while also giving some nice depth to the characters, especially the backstory of Paul Vitti. DeNiro in this movie always knows how many times he’s played this character before but he’s basically making of fun of himself.
6. Caddyshack (1980)
This was Ramis’ directorial debut and what a way to begin. What impresses audiences is his variety of talent. You’ve got Bill Murray, Rodney Dangerfield and Chevy Chase. Each one brings something different. Most of the film didn’t even follow the original script Ramis co-wrote with the late Douglas Kenney. A lot of it was improvised, which is where most of famous scenes emerged like the Carl’s Cinderella story or Ty in Carl’s “home”. It’s a hilarious movie.