From the world of comedy, director Paul Feig is a decidedly hot commodity these days. He has scored successes with his last three films, Bridesmaids (2011), The Heat (2013) and Spy (2015) with all three blockbusters banking heavily on women in the lead, especially, you could say, of the big-splash arrival of one-woman franchise Melisa McCarthy.
Feig’s next big screen comedy will rely on another bankable Hollywood franchise, Ghostbusters, which will include McCarthy in the cast. Moreover, Ghostbusters 3 will use an all-female squad for the lovable paranormal police known as the Ghostbusters.
This daring idea has a cast of Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon ready to combat New York City’s supernatural scofflaws.
This week Feig revealed that Ghostbusters veteran Dan Ackroyd, who played the ultra-geek Dr. Raymond Stantz in the first two films, will make a cameo appearance in Ghostbuster 3.
That leaves out the former Dr. Peter Venkman, who was played by Bill Murray, and Dr. Egon Spengler, who was played by the late Harold Ramis, whose masterful comedic touch was served up in the 1978 classic National Lampoon: Animal House, the 1993 classic Groundhog Day and the Michael Keaton vehicle Multiplicity (1996).
It is as good time as any to compare the talents of Feig and Ramis, who perhaps gender-specific polar opposites, Feig relying spicing up the action with female leads, while Ramis was the master of the scratch-your-head, guy-oriented comedy.
Feig is more mainstream than Ramis, whose daffy, off-beat style came up with gloriously unusual films. Ghostbusters is still funny as an idea, as is Groundhog Day – even if Meatballs (1979), Stripes (1981) and National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983) were more or less middle-of-the-road comedy faire.
Ramis, who died in 2014 of complications from autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis, has 16 major screen-writing credits to his name, including 12 films from 1978 to 1993, a 14-year span in which he wrote or co-wrote National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978), Meatballs (1979), Caddyshack (1980), Stripes (1981), Ghostbusters (1984), Back to School (1986), Club Paradise (1986), Armed and Dangerous (1986), Caddyshack II (1988), Ghostbusters II (1989), Rover Dangerfield (1991) and Groundhog Day (1984).
In that span, he also acted in eight of those films, while directing four of them.
One thing we can probably put in the bank is that Ramis would love the idea of making a third Ghostbusters and that he would offer feeble resistance to the notion that the Ghostbusters go to an all-female ensemble, especially with this particular cast.
Ramis’ humor was very often about male camaraderie. Stripes is about an overworked army troop, while Animal House is about a college fraternity. Ghostbusters is about man v. ghosts, but it is also about men v. Egghead Bureaucrats, which were well-recognized enemy to a counter-culture audience.
Feig has a more rambling resume. He remains a busy actor with roles in 20 films from 1987 through 2015 with roles in numerous television appearances, where is also directed numerous shows, including The Office and Arrested Development.
With McCarthy as the bulldozer, Feig is now making his mark as the go-to director for female-camaraderie comedies. In the meantime, he has three big-screen writing credits to his name, I Am David (2003), Spy (2013) and Ghostbusters III (2016).