I don't know who I would be without Harold Ramis. That sounds like it could be hyperbole, but it's actually an understatement. The work of Harold Ramis - specifically the films he wrote and/or directed - has shaped me completely, in ways that are only obvious when I think about what a world without Harold Ramis would have been like. The highbrow intelligence of his movies was matched only their lowbrow silliness; that he could operate in both realms at the exact same time totally inspired everything about my tastes. More than that, Harold Ramis was a champion of the underdog; I'm obsessed with snobs vs slobs movies, and it's pretty much a genre that Ramis invented - or at the very least solidified. Animal House, Meatballs, Caddyshack, Stripes - these are all movies that raged against authority while cheering on the unlikeliest of underdogs.
It's hard to imagine that Harold Ramis is dead. The list of his work is staggering; besides the movies above he directed National Lampoon's Vacation, Analyze This, wrote and starred in Ghostbusters, was a driving force of SCTV (the true incubator of all modern comedy) and of course directed Groundhog Day. He made comedies that were well-directed, not just simply shot, and he wrote characters who were rich and deep, even when they were silly and seemingly shallow. Ramis had an unerring instinct for honesty and truth, and combined with his wit that made him one of the greatest comedy writers who ever lived.
Ramis had been sick for a few years, and now we've been robbed of more movies from a man who was constantly evolving. One of his final films is the terribly underrated The Ice Harvest, and one of his dream projects was a movie about anarchist firebrand Emma Goldberg. He was 69 when he died, and in a better world he had some more movies in him.
The ones we got were amazing, though. It's impossible to overpraise Harold Ramis, and I hope that in the coming days all of you dig deep into his body of work, including delightful lesser films like Multiplicity and Back to School. Even his not very good movies, like Armed and Dangerous and Club Paradise, are extraordinary misfires. They're all worth seeing.
Thank you for everything, Harold Ramis. Thank you for making me laugh and making me hope and making me very much the man I am today. Thank you for stepping up and making this culture better, for making the world brighter for misfits and weirdos and oddballs. Every movie you made was a visit to a world where the smart, the funny, the shaggy and the slobby were able to rule. I hope you find yourself in that world now.