Chosen One of the Day: Janosz from Ghostbusters II

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Jul 11, 2017

As we near the one-year anniversary of the release of Paul Feig’s Ghosbusters reboot, I find myself thinking about the previous attempt to essentially re-create the magic of the classic original. In 1989, spurred on by the unexpected demand for new toys and cartoons that followed the first movie, Columbia pictures released Ghostbusters II, a sequel that followed the dotted lines of the original plot while also providing seemingly alternate-universe versions of characters like Janine and shoehorning in a reason for Rick Moranis to still be mucking about.

But there is one true stroke of genius of Ghostbusters II. There is a man who I will forever slam down as my argument toward why this sequel should exist in the first place. I don't mean Bill Murray, who makes phoning it in an art form, or Ernie Hudson, who's just happy they seem to actually have given him some stuff to do.

I'm talking about Peter MacNicol, who steals every second of the movie that he inhabits in his role of Dr. Janosz Poha.

There's something really fun about watching a good actor clearly look at a script and just say, "I'm doing whatever the hell I want with this one." And then get away with doing it.

His introduction sequence is just him muttering random lines that vary between self-deprecation and random snippy lines, including the single best line of dialogue ever spoken in any movie, "Everything you are doing is bad, I want you to know this."

The product of 1980s xenophobia at its best/worst, Janosz doesn't even seem to fully know which stereotype he's supposed to be embodying at any given time.

Janosz is so over-the-top flamboyant that calling him gay-coded seems absurd, and yet he also maintains a stalkerish and absolutely not work-appropriate crush on Sigourney Weaver's Dana even before he becomes the possessed lackey of Vigo the Carpathian, god of perpetually furrowed brows.

Janosz's accent is vaguely Eastern European but also just undefined enough to be a setup for the eventual joke that he's just from New York's Upper West Side.

He's an ambitious enough man to head up a department at the Museum of Modern Art, and yet when pulling for things to wish for as the parents of a living god, he adorably lands on a nice apartment and excellent parking space. He doesn't even want a parking garage, just a nice space. Which, granted, in New York that's still something, but come on Janosz, aim higher.

Everything that makes Janosz the best part of this ridiculous sequel (that I love without a trace of irony) is summed up in this bizarre handshake between him and Bill Murray's Peter Venkman. You can clearly see MacNicol making a weird choice to daintily touch Murray's fingers, and then Murray subtly wiping it away. It's like he's suddenly afraid of the risk of catching whatever it is that's making MacNicol put in an effort.

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