Harold Ramis, RIP
Sad news from Hollywood today. Harold Ramis has died. He was 69.
If you were to compile a list of what movies is essential viewing just to be a guy, think about this list: Animal House, Stripes, Caddyshack, Ghostbusters, Meatballs, and Back to School. Just to be a guy, you have to be able to quote a line from each of those movies in context. Is there a guy who hasn’t referred to one of his friends as, “a lean, mean fighting machine?” Or said in the middle of a raging storm, “I don’t think the heavy stuff’s gonna come down for quite a while?”
Perhaps not surprisingly, they were written by a guy who started his career as Playboy Magazine’s joke editor. Hugh Hefner was good for something after all.
Yes, the humor was juvenile. In his films, Ramis seemed to be stuck in adolescence, and we indulged our inner teenage rebellion against the grownups with every punch line.
But it was a work about growing up that Ramis will probably be best remembered, Groundhog Day. The movie was underrated when it was first released, probably because of the change in theme. In Ramis’ other movies, the heroes triumph by indulging in their irresponsible nature overcoming the pompous but proper antagonists. In Groundhog Day, Bill Murray’s character, Phil, only overcomes being trapped in a Sisiphean (granted, comic) purgatory by actually growing as a human being.
At first we sympathized with Phil’s cynical devaluation of his fellow man. Then Phil discovered there were no limits to his behavior, just like any college kid away from home for the first time, and we laughed along on the ride. But it was when Phil finally matured as a human being that he is finally redeemed, and the film is given a satisfactory ending.
But the adolescent is never far from the surface.
Phil: It’s so beautiful!… Let’s live here.
[he kisses Rita]
Phil: We’ll rent, to start.
Harold Ramis, RIP.