When entrepreneurs are heroes

February 25, 2014

RIP Harold Ramis.  We are inclined to agree with Judd Apatow:  “He literally made every single one of our favorite movies.”

From the obituary in his hometown Chicago Tribune:

Ramis’ comedies were often wild, silly and tilting toward anarchy, but they also were cerebral and iconoclastic, with the filmmaker heeding the Second City edict to work at the top of one’s intelligence.  This combination of smart and gut-bustingly funny led a generation of comedic actors and filmmakers to cite him as a key inspiration…

Ramis also left behind a reputation as a mensch and mentor.

“He’s the least changed by success of anyone I know in terms of sense of humor, of humility, sense of self,” the late Second City founder Bernie Sahlins, who began working with Ramis in 1969, said of him in 1999. “He’s had enormous success relatively, but none of it has gone to his head.”

While it’s impossible to pick just a single favorite from among Animal House, Meatballs, CaddyshackStripes, Vacation, Ghostbusters, Groundhog’s Day, Analyze This (and don’t forget SCTV), in Monday’s Washington Examiner one was called “the most Libertarian blockbuster ever made:”

In “Ghostbusters,” paranormal activity is becoming a growing problem in New York City. Government doesn’t do anything to stop the problem, so private entrepreneurs set up a small business that successfully captures and stores ghosts — for a fee.

But then, the villain — a regulator from the Environmental Protection Agency — decides to interfere with the private business by cutting off their power, thereby releasing all of the captured ghosts. Here is the clip. The EPA agent orders the shut down of the ghost containment unit over the protests of Ramis’ character, Dr. Egon Spengler, who says: “Excuse me, this is private property!”  …

The movie’s heroes are taken into police custody after the release of the ghosts. Once the assault by the ghosts causes apocalyptic chaos in New York City and the government is completely helpless in solving the problem, the mayor releases the small-business owners who once again save the day.

How many Hollywood blockbusters involve private businesses as the heroes and government regulators as the villains?

Although they managed to bootstrap their way to early success, they were sued out of existence prior to needing growth capital.  Sad.

The entrepreneurial moral of the story:  if the busybody regulators obsessing over the wrong things don’t get you, the trail lawyers will.


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