Welcome to Commentary Commentary, where we sit and listen to filmmakers talk about their work, then share the most interesting parts. In this edition, Rob Hunter goes hunting ghosts with the folks behind Ghostbusters 2!
This year marks the 30th anniversary of Ghostbusters 2, and while it’s never approached the popularity of the first film — and it knows why — the sequel has its fans. I can’t claim to be among them, and even a re-watch confirms the film just doesn’t do it for me. Happily, though, the first is still every bit as hilarious as it was back in 1984.
Both films have just been released as a new five-disc steelbook set featuring each movie on its own Blu-ray and 4K UltraHD as well as a bonus disc with additional special features. New and old extras in addition to fantastic restorations make this a necessary pick-up, and one of the new extras is a brand new commentary track for the sequel.
Keep reading to see what I heard on the commentary for…
Ghostbusters 2 (1989)
Commentators: Ivan Reitman (director), Dan Aykroyd (co-writer, actor), Joe Medjuck (producer)
1. Reitman blames “the shift of the zeitgeist” for the film’s chilly reception in 1989 — Tim Burton’s “dark” Batman came out a week later — but he thinks “people seem to like it now.”
2. The kid at 3:41 saying the Ghostbusters are full of shit is Jason Reitman. “He has a deeper voice now,” says Reitman, adding that his son is now planning the next Ghostbusters “as both a writer, co-writer, and director.”
3. It’s news to Reitman, but this was his first time collaborating with Kevin Dunn. They would work together again in Dave (1993) and Draft Day (2014). “I don’t remember anything.”
4. Medjuck recalls Peter MacNicol claiming that he got his accent for the character Dr. Janosz Poha “from Meryl Streep in Sophie’s Choice.” It wasn’t part of the character as written, but MacNicol did it at the audition and won over Reitman.
5. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) stops traffic as they cross the street at 20:32, and Aykroyd says that’s something he’s seen Murray do in real life too. “He’ll get out and direct traffic.”
6. The proton packs were pretty heavy so they built rubber ones to lighten the load. “In the shots that you couldn’t tell, Billy always wore the rubber one.”
7. Aykroyd is asked if any other film touched on a similar premise before Ghostbusters, and he suggests The Entity (1982) as the researchers in that film trap a ghost in liquid nitrogen.
8. They’re not sure exactly where it is, but they believe the large Vigo painting is somewhere on the Columbia Pictures lot.
9. The scene at 44:55 where Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) is threatened by her bathtub reminds Reitman of his work on David Cronenberg’s Shivers (1975).
10. Reitman makes a cameo as a guy crossing the street at 55:14.
11. The scene where Ray Stantz (Aykroyd) and Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) are developing photographs that burst into flames and threaten to burn them alive was added during re-shoots to increase the sense of danger and urgency. Reitman realized after assembling an early edit that he had been focusing so much on the Venkman/Barrett relationship that he was neglecting the thrills. The tunnel scene with the phantom heads is another of the added sequences.
12. They recall Moranis mentioning that this was one of his rare films that he didn’t want to keep his wardrobe after.
13. Reitman mentions how M.C. Hammer provided a song for the film and cameos — but Medjuck corrects him and points out it’s actually Bobby Brown.
14. Vigo is voiced by Max von Sydow who came in for a single day of recording.
15. The theater marquee at 1:19:29 is for Reitman’s 1973 comedy/horror flick Cannibal Girls.
16. The fur coat gag — the dead skins come back to life — was originally written for the first film but they never got around to shooting it, so they used it here.
17. Reitman acknowledges that the animated Statue of Liberty lacks the goofy appeal of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Aykroyd argues that the “logic of the good energy coming to life works here,” but none of them seem convinced.
18. They don’t mention Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters (2016) at all, but the much maligned reboot addresses a gap in this film when it comes to female Ghostbusters. They have two fantastic options here in Weaver and Annie Potts, but instead they turn Moranis into the fifth Ghostbuster.
Best in Context-Free Commentary
“That is Bob Zemeckis’ ex-wife.”
“The best people are in these movies.”
“That was a Marx Brothers reference.”
“We’re gonna have to explain to the young people what a long-distance phone call is.”
“I think the logic of this was a little complex.”
“Look at that, the Twin Towers. An innocent time in the world.”
Buy the new Ghostbusters double feature 4K UltraHD/Blu-ray steelbook from Amazon.
As much as I love the original film the sequel is just a flat nothing. There are a handful of fun lines, mostly from Bill Murray, but the film as a whole is a zero. The commentary track isn’t much better, unfortunately, as the trio spend too much time simply identifying what’s on screen and forgetting to speak. There’s still fun to found as evidenced by some of what’s above, but it’s a bit dry for a track featuring both Reitman and Aykroyd. Happily the set has far more to offer in the form of the films, old extras, and new special features.
Read more Commentary Commentary from the archives.