RIP to Harold Ramis, passed on at 69, which is way too young.
A pretty solid argument can be made that, in his unassuming way, Ramis just sort of was popular American movie comedy from the late ‘70s until the advent of Judd Apatow—he wrote, co-wrote, directed, acted in, or some combination of the above, National Lampoon’s Animal House, Meatballs, Caddyshack, Stripes, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters II, Groundhog Day and the criminally underrated, hilarious but fiercely touching Stuart Saves His Family, the best movie ever adapted from a Saturday Night Live sketch. He had a couple of clunkers, sure, but his batting average was insanely high.
Also, he was for a while the head writer on SCTV, the second-greatest TV sketch comedy of all time (second only to Monty Python’s Flying Circus), even though he was American, not Canadian. As if all this weren’t humbling enough, he played one-scene roles in a couple of movies he didn’t write or direct, As Good As It Gets and Apatow’s Knocked Up, and added notes of warmth and sweetness both times. He was awesome and lovable and he’ll be enormously missed.