RIP Harold Ramis: His Four Films That Shaped Adult Comedy Filmmaking


Stripes
Modern Comedy Equivalent: I Love You, Man

Admittedly, this is my favorite Ramis film. Though he co-starred (at Murray's insistence), and co-wrote rather than directed, it once again skewers a traditional American institution (the military) via a band of misfit, outsider enlistees. But, the army only serves as a backdrop for the brilliant comedic timing of Murray and Ramis, which set the stage for a whole host of buddy comedies like I Love You, Man, Wedding Crashers and The Hangover. And like Ramis's other films, it cast a bunch of talented newcomers including Sean Young, John Candy, John Larroquette, John Diehl and Judge Reinhold. Murray was the clear star, but Ramis was the perfect straight man, much the same way his contemporary Gene Wilder was to Richard Pryor in the classic comedies Silver Streak and Stir Crazy. The buddy comedy may be a concept as old as Abbott and Costello, but Murray and Ramis raised the bar for the next generation of filmmakers.


Ghostbusters
Modern Comedy Equivalent: Men In Black

It is difficult to explain to those who weren't around when Ghostbusters was released in 1984 the intense interest in the movie. From the film itself to the song to the merchandising, it was everywhere. But what kept from turning it into a cheesy kids movie was the clever, fast-paced writing and perfect on-screen chemistry of its stars, Murray, Ramis and Dan Aykroyd, who co-wrote the film with Ramis. And despite the amateurish special effects by today's standards, it still holds up because it is just so damn funny. Ramis uses his straight man persona to perfectly channel a classic mad scientist (something Aykroyd always loved) with an Eraserhead hairdo. The result is a remarkably mature and hilarious film that laid the groundwork for broad, sci-fi comedies like Men in Black.

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