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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

BYO Obit: Ramis

byobramis_650

A brilliant, lovely, kind man.

17 Responses to “BYO Obit: Ramis”

  1. Daniella Isaacs says:

    Yes. And GROUNDHOG DAY is not just considered an American comedy classic, but one of the greatest, most profound films of the last fifty years. Really. There’s a “BFI Film Classics” book devoted to it: http://us.macmillan.com/groundhogday/RyanGilbey.

    RIP

  2. leahnz says:

    oh no, another heartbreaker, one of the great comedy writers and fixture of my misspent youth as russell and egon… peace be the journey harold ramis, you made the world a more entertaining, amusing place, thanks for the memories RIP

  3. Geoff says:

    “I never heard BONES creak like that….” It’s not hyperbole to call him a true comedy treasure.

  4. Jermsguy says:

    Dang. PS Hoffman and now Harold Ramis. This is a bad month for celebrity deaths.

  5. EtGuild2 says:

    “Yes. And GROUNDHOG DAY is not just considered an American comedy classic, but one of the greatest, most profound films of the last fifty years.”

    This.

  6. pat says:

    How did Groundhog Day not get a Screenplay nomination at the Oscars? I realize 1993 was a killer year for movies and there was only space for one populist comedy; but why did they nominate “Dave” instead?!

  7. Sam says:

    People didn’t really realize how great Groundhog Day was when it first came out. It was extremely well liked, sometimes even loved, but, well, it’s like Ebert said: “Groundhog Day is a film that finds its note and purpose so precisely that its genius may not be immediately noticeable. It unfolds so inevitably, is so entertaining, so apparently effortless, that you have to stand back and slap yourself before you see how good it really is.”

    It wasn’t really until some time had passed, and people realized they STILL loved it, long after other comedies they reacted to favorably had been forgotten, that people started realizing it was something more than just a really solid, entertaining comedy.

    Certainly this was the case for me: I saw it, loved it, introduced friends and family to it who also loved it. But I did this with “Dave” as well and felt similarly about it. But months, a couple years later, by which time “Dave” and countless other worthy films had receded to “Oh yeah, that movie — I really liked that” status, my enthusiasm for Groundhog Day was undiminished. And eventually I started noticing other people remembering Groundhog Day in the same way. It wasn’t like a cult film that nobody saw initially and discovered later; everybody saw it right away and only in time discovered, hey, that’s something really special. Who’d have thought?

  8. Dr Wally Rises says:

    Ramis’s little cameo in Knocked Up as Seth Rogen’s dad was pretty much the best scene in the movie, too. If you have the DVD of Knocked Up, then you can see the complete take of that sequence, and it’s just a joy to see Ramis and Rogen riffing and bouncing off one another so naturally and effortlessly. In fact that scene now looks like almost the exact moment where the torch was passed from one generation of comic actors and directors to the next. From the Belushi/Murray SNL fraternity to Apatow and his crowd.

  9. christian says:

    Seth Rogen is in no way comparable to Harold Ramis. Rogen’s “improvs” look exactly like that.

  10. SamLowry says:

    “the torch was passed from one generation of comic actors and directors to the next. From the Belushi/Murray SNL fraternity to Apatow and his crowd.”

    Oh gag.

    I watched GROUNDHOG DAY on Groundhog Day and decided to make an event of it, with the youngling. I hadn’t seen it in over a decade, probably because I watched it so many times in the ’90s, yet after it was done I felt bothered that the movie seemed so unique–how many other classic comedies can adults and kids watch together without feeling insulted or disgusted? Aside from the obvious CHRISTMAS STORY, I keep trying but can’t come up with anything that doesn’t skew too mature or go in the other direction, like WRECK IT RALPH, that doesn’t eventually resort to poop jokes.

    And yet are those poop jokes targeting the funnybones of kids or the Apatow crowd, because I can’t really see the difference between them (the directors of THE LEGO MOVIE said in an interview that the “butt jokes” were intentionally inserted to draw the teenage crowd to what was otherwise perceived to be a kiddie movie; LEGO HQ wasn’t too happy about it, but they deferred to the expertise of the Hollywood guys). Strip out the nudity, language and gross-out material from the current crop of comedies and what’s left, aside from ten minutes of montages and reaction shots? Is it funny? Is it worth the price of a ticket? I’d say no.

    And yes, you could level the same argument against the vast majority of comedies released in the ’80s and ’90s, but how many of them have you watched lately? PORKY’S? NAKED GUN? THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY? Most of them are heading for the memory hole, and Apatow’s work will soon be joining them.

    If the current generation of R-rated comedies picked up a torch, it was dropped not by Ramis or Reitman, but by Bob Clark and the Farrelly brothers.

  11. SamLowry says:

    BTW, the music is GROUNDHOG DAY’S only flaw, which is odd considering his other big movies are remembered almost as much for their music as their stories. If the studio was getting cheap with him, that would explain the third-rate Jimmy Buffett knockoff that opens the movie and the fairly innocuous music afterward.

    Telling, though, is the choice of “I Got You, Babe”, which inspires the question “Who has Phil?” Is it a trickster god or was he the victim of some Gypsy curse? Funny how people call it a “spiritual” movie and yet it is clearly not a Christian movie. The Buddhists love it, apparently.

  12. christian says:

    Ask Rogen and Apatow to do a 10 minute comedy sketch minus farts, dicks and weed. You’ll get 10 minutes of silence.

  13. YancySkancy says:

    Cute dismissals of Apatow and company, but I call b.s. It’s not your style of comedy, fine. But guess what? I’m not that big on fart, dick and weed jokes either, but there’s plenty else going on in those films to make me laugh and relate to the characters. Apatow was influenced by the Ramis/SNL/Lampoon contingent, I’m sure, as well as James L. Brooks, and then he put his personal spin on it. Generally works for me, even when he goes long.

  14. Hcat says:

    I would disagree about Naked Gun, timeless and brilliant. Reaches a Duck Soup level of comedic achievement.

  15. christian says:

    And I do think Apatow is brilliant in good company like Shandling, Brooks and Paul Feig. On his own we get a guy asking his wife to look up his asshole.

  16. SamLowry says:

    Oh, and I didn’t say NAKED GUN was bad, just that it’s a movie I can’t watch with a tween who freaks out at profanity or anything even remotely sexual–the beaver scene immediately comes to mind, in a manner of speaking, that is.

    BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA went over well, however, though the ’80s clothes and makeup were an unintentional knee-slapper at times. Another point in GROUNDHOG DAY’s favor is that it doesn’t look dated at all, stuck right in the sensible middle between ’80s Day-Glo and ’90s grunge. (The woman who slept with Phil because she thought they went to school together is clearly trapped in her own ’80s-glory-days time loop, however.)

    Also forgot to point out (since I was getting ready for work) that an early draft of GD showed an angry ex putting a spell on Phil, so she was the “I” in “I Got You, Babe”, which therefore became a cruel reminder of his predicament. Another early draft also had him and Rita stuck in the loop together, and for 10,000 years. So yeah, it wasn’t great writing so much as great rewriting.

  17. cadavra says:

    You might try something made before STAR WARS. I’m hearing that the Criterion release of IT’S A MAD MAD MAD MAD WORLD is getting a shitload of family-time watching.

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MAMET
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Does this explain why your plays have so little exposition?

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Yes. People only speak to get something. If I say, Let me tell you a few things about myself, already your defenses go up; you go, Look, I wonder what he wants from me, because no one ever speaks except to obtain an objective. That’s the only reason anyone ever opens their mouth, onstage or offstage. They may use a language that seems revealing, but if so, it’s just coincidence, because what they’re trying to do is accomplish an objective… The question is where does the dramatist have to lead you? Answer: the place where he or she thinks the audience needs to be led. But what does the character think? Does the character need to convey that information? If the answer is no, then you’d better cut it out, because you aren’t putting the audience in the same position with the protagonist. You’re saying, in effect, Let’s stop the play. That’s what the narration is doing—stopping the play… It’s action, as Aristotle said. That’s all that it is—exactly what the person does. It’s not what they “think,” because we don’t know what they think. It’s not what they say. It’s what they do, what they’re physically trying to accomplish on the stage. Which is exactly the same way we understand a person’s character in life—not by what they say, but by what they do. Say someone came up to you and said, I’m glad to be your neighbor because I’m a very honest man. That’s my character. I’m honest, I like to do things, I’m forthright, I like to be clear about everything, I like to be concise. Well, you really don’t know anything about that guy’s character. Or the person is onstage, and the playwright has him or her make those same claims in several subtle or not-so-subtle ways, the audience will say, Oh yes, I understand their character now; now I understand that they are a character. But in fact you don’t understand anything. You just understand that they’re jabbering to try to convince you of something.
~ David Mamet

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