The latest Overview, our series of alternative commentaries on your favorite movies (most of them available on Netflix Instant Streaming), takes us all the way back to 1989, to the economically and ectoplasmically uncertain terrain of New York City, where slime runs beneath the sewers, babies float in the air, and Bill Murray and Sigourney Weaver spend way more time than you’d expect discussing their relationship.
We’ve spilled a lot of digital ink on the Ghostbusters series before, but this time we’re crossing the streams. This Overview features Matthew Wrather, Peter Fenzel (in his first Overview appearance), and special guest Bear McCreary, noted composer for film and television and bona-fide pop-culture savant in his own right, giving insight into the musical landscape of the film and drawing from his encyclopedic knowledge of 1980s B-movies.
And, because your love of overthinking keeps on lifting us higher and higher, we’re offering this Overview at a downright CRAZY price — just $2.99! But that’s not all. We’re also dropping the price of all the episodes of the overview to $2.99, so you can stock on the smart, funny, insightful series that some commenters have called “So good you can listen without even watching the movie.”
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The Overview is a series of alternative commentary tracks from Overthinking It, where the Overthinkers watch and discuss your favorite movies for your edutainment. The commentary is meant to be played while watching the movie, which means you’ll need your own copy of the movie and a way to both watch and listen to a MP3 track in order to take full advantage of what you’re buying. Find out more in the Overthinking It Store.
Finally. (Glad to see this has finally been ready to put up – I’m sure Bear will have some amazing things to say! And everyone else).
This was a real pleasure to record, and I am psyched to see what people think of it. Riffing with Bear was great, and if you haven’t heard him speak on his craft, it’s a real treat.
Enjoying the Overview and just had my own observation. Why did both Ghostbusters and Ninja Turtle sequels focus on bad things happening because of ooze-based substances? Should this be Ghostbusters 2: The Secret of the Ooze?
Are there any other films with this a plot device, especially sequels? Any thoughts on this?
Keep the overview coming guys. I love it and look forward to more. Great to have Fenzel on one finally. Bear was great too. Loved his comments.
“Why did both Ghostbusters and Ninja Turtle sequels focus on bad things happening because of ooze-based substances? Should this be Ghostbusters 2: The Secret of the Ooze?
Are there any other films with this a plot device, especially sequels? Any thoughts on this?”
This was the time – after Three-mile Island and the wind-down of the growth in U.S. nuclear power generation, but before greenhouse gas emissions became the order of the day – when “toxic waste” was seen as the major environmental health hazard (along with CFCs and their damage to the Ozone layer). This is because of real-life issues, like when the Love Canal toxic waste was giving people leukemia in the late 70s and early 80s, and flows of sewage, toxic waste and medical waste closed the beaches in New Jersey several times in the late 80s.
There are lots of pop cultural properties from this time period – the late 80s into the early 90s – that focus on “toxic waste” of an ooze-ish variety, in addition to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the increasingly Slime-centric Ghostbusters:
The Toxic Avenger (the only Troma picture that was made into a children’s television show)
Nickelodeon “Slime” (via “You Can’t Do That on Television”)
Captain Planet (who disproportionately dealt with toxic waste and was weakened by it)
My Little Pony: The Movie (http://www.overthinkingit.com/2009/09/23/the-smooze-anatomy-of-a-my-little-pony-villain/)
Even He-Man had a slime playset available for purchase.
So, yeah, slime was definitely a “thing” at the time (a Swamp Thing, ‘natch). It’s gone away mostly because public focus has moved to other environmental problems.
I’d point to the 1996 Charlie Sheen flick “The Arrival,” which is about aliens using industrial corporations as fronts for terraforming the earth by accelerating the greenhouse effect, as not necessarily the turning point, but definitely a sign that, by this time, people had become more worried about global warming than about toxic slime pollution.
Thanks Fenzel! I forgot about most of those things until reading your post.
Thanks for killing a boring Sunday morning.
I wished to comment on the subject of soundtracks dating a film. The gang’s discussion of the over-specificity of the 90’s music got me thinking of another movie where the soundtrack dates the film, Ladyhawke. It has been a number of years since the last time I saw the film. It’s actually a pretty darn good fantasy adventure. The music sadly is made up of super-anachronistic synthesizer tracks that seem cribbed from Axel F from Beverly Hills Cop. It is both so dating and so mismatched to the action, as to make the movie hard to watch nowadays (I would be curious if at the time it seemed as egregious). Any thoughts?
Only that I have no seen Ladyhawke, and after watching the trailer, my reaction is:
1) Wow, movie trailers from the time were terrible.
2) Wow, I have to see Ladyhawke.
The movie appears to be on the verge or just over the verge of slipping into obscurity – since the New Zealand-based band named after it has taken a lot of its Googleshare. I’m glad to catch it now.
3) Yeah, from the trailer, the music sounds rough.
4) Wow, Richard Donner was getting on a _tear_ at the time he directed Ladyhawke. This movie came out the same year another little movie he directed came out … called _The Goonies_. Then he finished the decade with Lethal Weapon, Scrooged, and Lethal Weapon 2.
So, yeah, the Lethal Weapon connection is probably why it feels like an 80s cop movie – because it was directed by an 80s cop director.
Another excellent commentary, guys. I’m really enjoying these!
Now, I’ve seen Ghostbusters II countless times, but it never once occurred to me until listening to this Overview that the central conflict at the end of the film concerns an old man wanting to possess a baby at midnight on New Year’s. It’s an interesting metaphor to use as your villain’s central plot point, and seems to fit in with the movie’s general theme of the passage of time and growing up, etc. But like Pete said about the not-quite-running-theme of positivity overpowering negativity, it’s another little concept that the film could have actually been about had they not thrown in eight other things to explore. The only difference in this case is that it’s actually quite pertinent to what’s going on.
In case it wasn’t apparent, Vigo and Oscar represent Father Time and Baby New Year.
…I had never thought of that! Full sincerity.
That’s my biggest frustration with II these days. There are so many genuinely good things struggling to come out of it, but there either isn’t the space to explore them OR the movie itself shies away from its own implications.
I was saying on Facebook a while ago that II just wastes a lot of time with the “where are they now?” stuff, time which could be better spent exploring the themes therein.
I just noticed one thing. When the door guy shows up, someone jokes if he was the limo driver from Die Hard. “Well, actually,” it was Bobby Brown in the scene while his song was playing, “On Our Own.”
Great Overview guys. I love it.
Ignore that. Someone just mentioned it on the commentary. My mistake.