I haven't written in several days, mainly because I've been enjoying being off the grid of late. I wanted to be by myself a lot of the time, and in the evenings maybe I wanted to see a friend or two. I also got my stomach thing again earlier in the week, and stabbing abdominal pain tends to outweigh the joy of writing. But I'm back in full form and ready to dish you two fab films from the 80s, both that figure heavily in both New Year's time, and also the career of Dan Aykroyd.
The first film I had never heard of until 1996, when Jamie Kennedy spoke about Jamie Lee Curtis in the film, Scream. Someone asked if in Halloween, you ever got to see Jamie Lee's breasts, and Jamie Kennedy said no...not until she got a legitimate (non horror) role in 1983 where she played a street smart prostitute with a heart of gold and a huge rack. That film was Trading Places, which while being notable for Mrs. Curtis' ample...eherm...assets is also well known for being one of the funniest comedies of the early eighties and Eddie Murphy's career. It begins just before Thanksgiving in Philadelphia, PA where a successful commodities broker, Louis Winthorpe (Aykroyd) is enjoying a charmed life while Billy Ray Valentine (Murphy) lives a hard life on the street. Winthorpe's two evil bosses, the Duke Brothers, in their rich boredom decide to have a heredity vs. environment experiment using the two men and wager a dollar that one or the other outcomes will be true if they switch the two men. Everything that follows is hilarity (and boobs, for some reason the early and mid-eighties were full of boobs) and the ending, which takes place between New Year's Eve and the start of the new year, is a screwball and 'what-goes-around-comes-around' masterpiece. Special shout outs should be given, not just to Jamie Lee who helps Winthorpe as he descends to poverty, to Denholm Elliott (Winthorpe's loyal butler Coleman) and Ralph Bellamy and Don Ameche as the brothers Duke. The supporting cast is just as brilliant as the leads and they are the glue that holds the story together.
The next film I offer to you is another of Aykroyd's well known roles...perhaps the role he is best known for all over the world, and it was the second time he would play that character along side his Second City buddies. This character is also one of Aykroyd's most quoted...who hasn't heard Ray Stantz "One, two, three...GET HER!!!" Yes friends, Ghostbusters II also takes place at the end of the year and its finale even takes place on the crucial last hours of New Year's Eve. This films finds our favorite ghost hunters on the rocks and basically broken up because of being legally restrained from paranormal investigation after the events of the first film (New York City didn't look kindly on them blowing up a skyscraper and a big marshmallow man, that they themselves accidentally created) and Dana Barrett (the always lovely and luminescent Sigourney Weaver...can you tell I'm a fan?) having ghost trouble again. It seems that malevolent spirit in a painting at the Manhattan Museum of Art, where she is working, has got his sights set on possessing her baby, Oscar, at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve so that he can take over the world. This film had a lot of things working against it when it was released. Not only was it considered more of the same (in fact there is a Youtube video that shows all the key moments in both films that mirror each other) and thus not as good as the first, but it also had the misfortune of being released at the same time as Tim Burton's Batman which squashed it both critically and financially. Not that the film didn't make good money, the boys in gray were still quite popular...especially with kids who had been watching the cartoon for the five years between films...but it didn't do nearly as well as the studio hoped. Thus, much hope for Ghostbusters III was lost because the studio couldn't justify spending more money on a franchise that would be expensive and open with no legs at the box office. We may still see part 3, since the popularity of the franchise has resurfaced with the release of the new video game, but for now...Ghostbusters II is a fine film to entertain yourself with as the year comes to a close.
On a more personal note, I would like to add that my new Playstation 3 decided to start working properly today...I'm watching my new Star Trek II BD on it right now...and so it seems that I may not need to send it to Sony for service afterall. I couldn't be happier about this...and yet apprehensive that the thing may still crap out on me when I let my guard down. Lets all hope that it doesn't.