Ghostbusters II (PG)
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Caution: potential spoilers.
This is a sequel to Ghostbusters. It came out in 1989, but I first saw it sometime in the 90s, probably on TV. I'm writing this review in 2016, after watching it on DVD when a reboot of the franchise came out in theaters.
So. It's set five years after the original. It seems that shortly after the Ghostbusters saved the city, they got sued for all the damage that happened in the process. So now they're out of business. Egon has some science job, where he's currently doing research on human emotions. Ray and Winston apparently do appearances at kids' parties, as if they were clowns or something. (The one party we see, the kids were hoping for He-Man.) Ray also runs an occult bookstore, but we never see what Winston's regular job is. Meanwhile, Peter hosts a talk show about psychic phenomena. (In the one segment we see of that, he has two guests. One of them believes the world is going to end at midnight on New Year's Eve, which isn't far away, because the movie is set around Christmas. The other guest believes the world will end on Valentine's Day, 2016. It kind of creeped me out to hear her mention the year I was watching the movie, but since I watched it in July, I reckon I'm safe.) We also learn that Peter and Dana had been a couple for awhile, but she broke up with him at some point, and later married someone else. Now she has a baby named Oscar, though her husband left her sometime prior to the movie. Anyway, at the start of the movie, Oscar's baby carriage starts moving on its own, rolling through a ton of traffic while Dana tries to catch it. She eventually does, and then goes to see Egon, to ask for his help in figuring out what caused it. He gets Ray involved, but Dana asks him not to get Peter involved. Of course, Peter does get involved in the case, and starts trying to win Dana back.
Meanwhile, Dana has been working at a museum, restoring paintings. (She had quit her job in the orchestra because of Oscar.) Her boss is a guy named Dr. Janosz Poha (Peter MacNicol), who is obviously romantically interested in Dana, but she's obviously not interested in him. Anyway, a painting of an evil old wizard, Vigo the Carpathian, arrives at the museum. It creeps Dana out, but Janosz likes it, I guess. And one day, Vigo's spirit acts through the painting to compel Janosz to serve him. He wants a child to be reborn into, and Janosz decides to use Oscar for that purpose. (He also asks Vigo to give him Dana, when Vigo takes over the world.) The Ghostbusters' investigation into the baby carriage incident leads them to discover a river of slime flowing in the sewers beneath New York City. And they eventually learn that the slime is affected by human emotions, either negative or positive. And that it's being used by Vigo to gain power. But their attempt to stop all this is hindered by a guy named Jack Hardemeyer (Kurt Fuller), who works for the Mayor. The Ghostbusters end up in court, where they're found guilty of various stuff, but then some ghosts show up and the Ghostbusters stop them. So the judge (who previously didn't believe in ghosts) overturns his own ruling, as well as a prior injunction against them doing any ghostbusting.
After that, they reopen their business and seem to be pretty successful. They also rehire Janine, though I have no idea what she was doing since they went out of business, nor why she was immediately available and willing to return to working for them. Also, I always thought she looked a lot different in the sequel than she did in the original, though she's played by Annie Potts in both movies. I assumed she got a makeover that was supposed to make her look more like the character in the cartoon, and her personality changed considerably, as well. And Louis Tully was brought back as a lawyer representing the Ghostbusters at their trial, and for some reason he starts working for them full time after the business reopens. And... things happen between him and Janine. (Incidentally, one of the things I always remembered about the movie was that a particular ghost drives a bus at one point, and seems to be on Louis's side, for no apparent reason. As with Janine's makeover, I assumed that was a nod to the cartoon, in which the ghost is called Slimer. Rewatching the movie now, I'm almost surprised how minor Slimer's role is in this movie.) Anyway, of course the Ghostbusters eventually defeat Vigo. The way they do this involves a combination of factors, one of which is the slime from the sewers. Another is a song, "Higher and Higher" (which has always kind of reminded me of how a similar song played a part in the end of another Bill Murray movie, Scrooged). And... there's another factor that I don't want to spoil.
So, um... the movie is not as well-liked by critics as was the original. And I don't like it as well as the original, either. But I do like it. I think it's reasonably funny, and the story's not so bad. And it's nice to see the characters again. And there's some music that I find slightly nostalgic, since I had the soundtrack on cassette tape and listened to it probably a fair number of times, back in the day. Really, nothing about the movie (the story, the humor, the special effects) is as good as the original, but I don't think any of it is bad, either. It's a fun movie, which is all I think one can ask. There's no need for it to be as iconic as the original. So while I understand its being less popular, I think it's kind of unfair for anyone to judge it too harshly. (Then again, everyone has a right to their own opinion.)