Movie veteran Dan Aykroyd has expressed his sadness after learning of the death of his Ghostbusters co-star Harold Ramis. The actor, writer and filmmaker died on Monday (24Feb14) from complications of a rare blood disease, and celebrities including Jon Favreau, Seth MacFarlane, Eli Roth and Stephen Fry were among the first to honour the late star via Twitter.com.
Now Aykroyd has added his tribute to his friend and collaborator.
A statement issued to The Hollywood Reporter reads: "(I am) deeply saddened to hear of the passing of my brilliant, gifted, funny friend, co-writer/performer and teacher Harold Ramis. May he now get the answers he was always seeking."
Aykroyd had been working with Ramis for some time to bring Ghostbusters 3 to the big screen, but it is not yet known how his death will affect the project.
Meanwhile, comedian Steve Martin has commented on Ramis' passing via Twitter.com, writing, "So sorry to hear about the death of Harold Ramis, a comedy master. Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day, and more", and actress Julianne Moore adds, "Very sad to hear that we lost Harold Ramis. Exceptionally talented, exceptionally kind."
And his Year One co-star Christopher Mintz-Plasse has also expressed his thoughts online, tweeting, "SO lucky I got to work with Harold Ramis, even if just for a couple weeks. The nicest, most talented gentleman. God damnit. RIP."
Prehistoric comedy Year One, which was released in 2009, was Ramis' final movie as both an actor and director.
Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
Treading water at the very surface of RoboCop, there is an idea. A dense concept, ready and willing to provide no dearth of dissection for any eager student of philosophy, psychology, political science, physics — hell, any of the Ps. To simplify the idea on hand: What separates man from machine? It's a question that is not just teased by the basic premise of José Padilha's remake of the 1987 sci-fi staple, but asked outright by many of its main characters. And then never really worried about again.
We have principal parties on both sides of the ethical quandary that would place the security of our crime-ridden cities in the hands of automatons. Samuel L. Jackson plays a spitfire Bill O'Reilly who wonders why America hasn't lined its streets with high-efficiency officer droids. Zach Grenier, as a moralistic senator, gobbles his way through an opposition to the Pro-boCop movement. We hear lecture after lecture from pundits, politicians, business moguls (a money-hungry Michael Keaton heads the nefarious OmniCorp...) and scientists (...while his top doc Gary Oldman questions the nature of his assignments while poking at patients' brains and spouting diatribes about "free will"), all working their hardest to lay thematic groundwork. Each character insists that we're watching a movie about the distinction between human and artificial intelligence. That even with an active brain, no robot can understand what it means to have a heart. But when Prof. Oldman tempers his hysterical squawking and Samuel L. Hannity rolls his closing credits, we don't see these ideas taking life.
In earnest, the struggle of rehabilitated police officer Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) — nearly killed in the line of duty and turned thereafter into OmniCorp's prototype RoboCop — doesn't seem to enlist any of the questions that his aggravated peers have been asking. Murphy is transformed not just physically, but mentally — robbed of his decision-making ability and depleted of emotional brain chemicals — effectively losing himself in the process. But the journey we see take hold of Murphy is not one to reclaim his soul, although the movie touts it as such. It's really just one to become a better robot.
Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
Meanwhile, RoboCop lays down its motives, and hard: Murphy's wife and son (Abbie Cornish and a puckish young John Paul Ruttan) lament the loss of Alex, condemning his dehumanization at the hands of Raymond Sellars' (Keaton) capitalistic experiments, and sobbing out some torrential pathos so you know just how deep this company is digging. Weaselly stooges (Jay Baruchel, Jennifer Ehle, and Jackie Earl Haley) line the OmniCorp roster with comical wickedness. Overseas, killer combat bots take down peaceful villages, unable to work empathetic judgment into their decision to destroy all deemed as "threats." And at the top, figures of power and money like Sellars and Pat Novak (Jackson) speak the loudest and harshest, literally justifying their agenda with a call for all naysayers to "stop whining." Clearly, RoboCop has something to say.
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And when it's devoted to its outrage, RoboCop is terrifically charming. The buzzing political world is just a tiny step closer to ridiculous than our own; the pitch meetings at OmniCorp are fun enough to provoke a ditching of all the material outside of the company walls. And one particular reference to The Wizard of Oz shows that the movie isn't above having fun with its admittedly silly premise. But it loses its magic when it steps away from goofy gimmicks and satirical monologues and heads back into the story. We don't see enough of Murphy grappling with the complicated balance between his conflicting organic and synthetic selves. In fact, we don't see enough "story" in Murphy at all. First, he's a dad and a cop. Then, he's a RoboCop. But can he also be a RoboDad? With all of its ranting and raving about the question, the film doesn't seem to concerned with actually figuring out the answer.
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WHAT IT’S ABOUT?
Year One centers on the exploits of two moronic early dudes clumsy hunter Zed and deadpan and dopey Oh. After Zed is banished from his village for eating the wrong thing Oh joins him on a journey over many miles of land and through the sands of time. They wind up in the biblical era (don’t ask how if you want to continue enjoying this thing) where they meet the likes of Cain and Abel become slaves and somehow wind up in forbidden Sodom. It’s not EXACTLY the "year one " but hey who’s counting?
WHO’S IN IT?
Jack Black is an obvious choice to play the Neanderthal idiot Zed. He looks like he was born into the role in fact and offers up the appropriate belching and farting to make you believe he’s a VERY primitive kind of guy. As his reluctant partner Oh Michael Cera does not stray far from the screen persona he has been building since Juno and even in caveman attire he still has the air of a confused high school nerd. His right-on deadpan delivery of his lines though is the one saving grace in this whole sorry enterprise. Casting this most contemporary of actors in the most period of pieces turns out to be inspired. As various biblical characters David Cross Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Superbad) Vinnie Jones and especially Hank Azaria (as the prophet Abraham) do what is required to squeeze the humor out of a bad situation. Even an uncredited Paul Rudd turns up as the doomed Abel to help keep Year One afloat and is actually quite funny for the few minutes he’s around.
Best idea was to put the nonplussed Cera into the movie. He’s not an obvious choice for this sort of thing and it’s nice to see him out of his comfort zone. He gets genuine laughs — an exceedingly rare occurrence in this concoction.
Director Harold Ramis (Ghostbusters Stripes) certainly knows his way around outrageous comedy situations but he doesn’t seem to know what to do with this one. It’s not enough to put a couple of funny comics in furs and cave attire without giving them funny lines. The fart jokes only go so far(t). Year One is so forgettable and lamentable that by the time the end credits roll you just want to head straight to the exits and forget what you’ve just sat through for 97 minutes.
Pick anything from the trailer or the TV spots because they contain the ONLY genuinely amusing bits in the picture.
NETFLIX OR MULTIPLEX?
Hmmmm let’s just say NEITHER.