Are These Popular ’80s Films Actually Awful?
We’ve previously confessed a great love of Ghostbusters, but Man Cave is an ocean with many tides, and not all of them concur. For a bit of devil’s advocacy–or rather, prosecution–here’s the rebuttal from one of our writers.
Can we be candid for a moment? Can we just for one minute be honest and say how much the ’80s sucked? It sucked in the form of fashion choices like big hair and suspenders. It sucked in sex symbols like the beyond bland Kim Basinger and it sucked in a lot of the music the radio played, unless, of course, you think this is music…
Do you think that’s music? Do you? You ought to be ashamed of yourself if you do.
There have been various attempts over the years to bring back aspects of that godawful decade like, for example, a new Rubik’s Cube or, worse, the return of Michael J. Fox to series television but nothing could be more offensive than the continuing rumors of a Ghostbusters remake and possible TV series revival for Beverly Hills Cop. Both Ghostbusters and Beverly Hills Cop are hands down two of the most unfunny successful comedies ever made in the history of cinema.
Yes, yes they are. They are not funny. They weren’t funny in 1984 when they both came out, the sequels weren’t funny and looking back on them from 2013 has not made them funny. Write all the hate mail you want, both these films were awful and here are my reasons for thinking so. We’ll start with Ghostbusters.
Here is the basic plot of this movie, a group of guys in New York City act as roach exterminators only instead of roaches it’s ghosts. The film stars Bill Murray as Deadpan, Harold Ramis as Boring, Dan Aykroyd as Even More Boring and Ernie Hudson as Character There To Be The Black Guy. They are a huge success ridding NYC of its ghost infestation because most of the ghosts have the unfortunate problem of looking like blobs of green crap rather than transparent images of people’s dead relatives, friends or lovers. So nobody cares if you rid the world of them. Those who do look human apparently don’t have anyone in all of NYC who might actually want to keep them around, like people do with zombies at the end of Shaun of The Dead.
In fact, with ghosts being an established fact for most people in this movie it’s not clear why no one advocates for suicide since death means you get awesome powers like walking through walls and flying.
Anyway, one of the worst things about the film has got to be Bill Murray. Sure he’s the funniest thing in the movie. He’s the only funny thing in the movie and he’s not that funny. In fact, his deadpan routine gets tired pretty fast. Not that he should knock himself out–it’s not like anyone should take the picture seriously- but the character never moves above the level of “Hey, it’s me, Bill Murray. I’m in a movie. Isn’t that cool?” And being in a movie is totally cool. Great for you, Bill, but I don’t go to the movies to watch life’s winners show off how much they’ve won. Bill Murray’s performance in this movie is the living embodiment of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous (another ’80s abomination). It’s too self-satisfied, too unruffled, too in love with its own sense of how funny it is. In a word, it sucks.
Then there is the whole scene with that 100-foot marshmallow sailor walking up Central Park West like Godzilla. Supposedly this scene is a parody of early Japanese monster movies, but it’s not. It’s just a really expensive rip-off of those films. Look at those pictures from the ’60s of Godzilla or Gamera or whathaveyou. Those are funny. Guys wearing monster suits and stepping on miniature sets look hilarious. Ghostbusters doesn’t have that level of absurdity. In Ghostbusters you’re seeing high-priced, top of the line (for 1984) special effects. Where’s the fun? Where is the humor in that? And there was no need for it. Ghostbusters would have made just as much money if not more if you had a guy in a Stay Puft Man outfit squishing an obviously fake Manhattan neighborhood than the far more realistic and a thousand times less funny thing that director Ivan Reitman filmed.
Beverly Hills Copout
Here is the basic plot of this movie: a fun, freewheeling Detroit detective–that is a policeman who could only exist in the movies because in the real world he’d of never made it past rookie–investigates the murder of a friend that leads him to the uptight world of Beverly Hills.
The worst thing about BHC is quite easily the script. Instead of telling a interesting story that compares the lives of a man from Detroit to the fancy world of Beverly Hills, we get Eddie Murphy BSing his way through an endless parade of fantastically incredulous people. It’s understood that this is a comedy and a certain amount of suspension of disbelief is necessary but how is it possible that this man badgers Beverly Hillians throughout the entire movie and not one person calls him on it? Say what you will about this area of the world, they aren’t hicks.
Take this scene for instance. How is this funny? What hotel clerk or her manager would fall for this? Would talking like this really get you a room or would hotel security just toss you out? In fact, where is hotel security? You’d think a joint that expensive would have guards all over the place ready to put out the riff raff. I guess when you rent rooms to people for $235 a night (in 1984 dollars) you skimp on insuring your guests’ personal safety.
By the way, and here’s the really revolting part, this piece of unfunny, nobody-on-earth acts-like-this crapola actually got an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. This is true despite the fact that it’s not the first two of those three things.
Another point that makes BHC so unfunny is the violence. The film was originally written with ’70s actor turned ’80s action hack Sylvester Stallone in mind and you can tell. Basically, the character of Axel Foley is Rambo if he were black and instead of Vietnam went to Upright Citizens Brigade. He gets into gun battles, gets tossed through a window, beats up henchmen and is involved in a car chase, all of which is exactly what you’d expect in a comedy if you didn’t know you were making a comedy.
Beverly Hills Cop is so terrible that I can’t even show you a clip from its funniest scene. This is not because it’s too violent or too vulgar but solely for the reason that it doesn’t exist.
It just so happens Terry Gilliam is a very good director; don’t let Brazil fool you. But oh, how it tries to do just that! Boring, unfunny, visually nice but unwatchable twice, Brazil is a 1985 movie about a man (The charisma free, Jonathan Pryce) who is in love with somesuch woman and from this gets involved with terrorists, one of whom is Robert DeNiro. Also, besides terrorism, his mom gets a lot of facelifts. It could be the movie is saying facelifts are a form of terrorism. This is a guess, since besides being as dull as slugs screwing; Brazil is as confused as a Republican senator in an airport bathroom stall.
Amazingly, some critics say Brazil is one of the greatest films ever made. These people despise cinema and humanity. And yes, it is well known that the studios made all sorts of changes to the picture, much to Terry Gilliam’s objections. Here’s a newsflash, for once, the guys in the suits who can afford the top shelf cocaine knew what they were doing. Clearly they could see they were dealing with a film that wasn’t Shinola and tried to salvage what they could of it. One is certain of this because, even taking into consideration the hatch job visited upon this cinematic hate crime, no amount of editing could explain the horrendous performance of the film’s female lead, Kim Griest. This is a woman Wikipedia says last appeared on screen in 2002 in something called Judging Amy. One can only image that the other mannequins finally caught up with her and returned her to the store.
Anyway, this senseless trailer perfectly captures the incoherence.
Ghostbusters and Beverly Hills Cop are two of the most wildly successful comedies of any era. Combined they have made more money that anything by a Woody Allen or Mel Brooks and that’s a damn shame because those two films so, so don’t deserve it. These two pictures were never funny and it’s hard to understand why anyone ever thought they were. Brazil was a flop, but not the kind of flop it deserved to be. It should have had the same box office as a film featuring Artie Lang and Jack Black tongue kissing. Instead it’s one of the most critically acclaimed, albeit with an asterisk. All three of these flicks are a disgrace to entertainment and may we never see their ilk again.
Joe is the co-host of the Skeptiles podcast, star of his own YouTube channel and a stand up comedian, in other words, he’s horribly poor. You can follow him on Twitter @JoeLewisdixon where he can bore you or offend you depending upon your preference.