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Ranked: Harold Ramis Films from Worst to Best

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A fond look at the comedies of the late, great director and writer.

Today we lost one of the funniest filmmakers of our time: comedy legend Harold Ramis passed away at only 69. In his honor, we've ranked 17 movies from his extensive, brilliant career, which spanned nearly 40 years. (While you’ll find Ramis’s oeuvre is more or less completely represented below, we've omitted several outliers — for instance, Caddyshack II, which Ramis openly admitted was “terrible,” and which he only agreed to write because the studio begged him.)

17. Club Paradise (1986)

Director and co-writer

Though it features much of the cast of SCTV, one of the finest TV shows ever made, this Robin Williams-led farce is difficult to watch. Peter O’Toole — who, somehow, was in this movie — earned a Razzie nod for Worst Supporting Actor.

16. Year One (2007) 

Director, co-writer, and actor

Ramis’ last film is, unfortunately, far from his best. Jack Black and Michael Cera play two of the very first humans in what is essentially Mel Brooks’ History of the World, Part I stripped of all of its redeeming qualities.

15. Stuart Saves His Family (1995)

Director

Based on a series of Saturday Night Live sketches, this movie starred (Senator) Al Franken as a self-help TV show host who shared pseudo-therapeutic daily affirmations. 

It bombed at the box office.

14. Analyze That (2002)

Director and co-writer

In the sequel to Analyze This (see below), a crime boss (Robert DeNiro) is released from prison into his shrink’s (Billy Crystal) custody after faking insanity, then tries to assimilate into society. The all-too-convenient mafia tropes feel tired here. Keep an eye out for Cathy Moriarty, who played DeNiro’s wife in Raging Bull, as a rival mobster.

13. Multiplicity (1996)

Director and co-writer

Michael Keaton is a husband and father who resorts to cloning himself so that he’ll have time to fulfill all his obligations at work and at home. Each of his clones ends up sleeping with his wife (Andie MacDowell), naturally. Meh.

12. The Ice Harvest (2005) 

Director

Based on the novel of the same name, this is a comedic film noir about a robbery that takes place on Christmas Eve. It’s not bad, but considering its cast — John Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton, and Oliver Platt — it could have been better.

11. Meatballs (1979)

Co-writer

Bill Murray, in his first starring role, is the head counselor of a summer camp for teens. Meatballs is dumb, Meatballs is lowbrow, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t enjoyable. Watch this, then Wet Hot American Summer. 

10. Bedazzled (2000)

Director and co-writer

I have a soft spot for this movie, a remake of the eponymous 1967 retelling of the classic Faust tale. Elizabeth Hurley stars as the Devil and Brendan Fraser as a hapless IT geek, in their post-Austin Powers, post-Mummy millennial heyday.

9. Ghostbusters II (1989) 

A worthy effort, though it failed to equal the ridiculously funny original (see below). Nevertheless, the Statue of Liberty manages to give the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man a run for his money. See also: the joys of pink slime.

8. Back to School (1986) 

Co-writer

Easily my favorite Rodney Dangerfield performance (second place: Little Nicky). An uneducated millionaire enrolls in the same college as his son. The unlikely Kurt Vonnegut cameo is arguably the best part of the movie.

7. Analyze This (1999)

Director and co-writer

An entirely different take on the mobster-in-therapy premise that launched The Sopranos the very same year. DeNiro’s neurotic mafioso and Crystal’s equally neurotic psychiatrist find fresh, fast chemistry in their improbable bromance.

6. Caddyshack (1980)

Director and co-writer

This country club-set movie has never done it for me, though you’d have to be a complete dope not to acknowledge its influence and cult following — the brothers Murray even opened a Caddyshack restaurant. Worth watching for the rogue Baby Ruth in the swimming pool, Rodney Dangerfield’s jackets (Craig Sager’s inspiration?), and, as always, American hero Bill Murray.

5. National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978)

Co-writer

The dorm room walls of our country’s youth would languish bare if not for posters of Jim Belushi’s Bluto. The rowdy, misfit brothers of Delta Tau Chi take on their uptight dean and rival frat, and in doing so, permanently changed our collective conception of the college experience (in short: more beer, more togas, more Belushi.)

4. National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983) 

Director and co-writer

The mantle of greatest Vacation movie (Christmas) belongs to John Hughes, but Ramis comes close here. He also makes an uncredited (voice) appearance as Walley World mascot Marty Moose.

3. Stripes (1981)

Co-writer and actor

I’m ranking this army comedy higher than most of the Internet would, because I watched Stripes about once a week when I was 13. Ramis co-stars with Bill Murray in his purest form — the basic training graduation scene is everything I have ever wanted and more.

2. Ghostbusters (1984)

Co-writer and actor

Ghostbusters is the only movie that, whenever it comes on TV, I will stop whatever I’m doing to watch. Ramis’ adorably nerdy Dr. Egon Spengler teams up with fellow parapsychologists Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray to catch the ghosts that are suddenly flooding New York City. If you’ve somehow gone this far in your adult life without seeing Ghostbusters, rectify this grievous error immediately.

1. Groundhog Day (1993)

Director, producer, co-writer, and actor

Ramis’ direction and a script by Danny Rubin combine in one of the sweetest, smartest movies ever made. If Groundhog Day was the only film I could watch for the rest of my life — in an oddly specific sequel to Groundhog Day — I’d be okay with that.