From “SCTV” to shrunken children, there were few actors in the 1980s who made us laugh more than Rick Moranis. In roles big and small, seemingly conventional and irrepressibly wild, Moranis was an essential part of an ensemble of comedians and actors that recombined itself in endless variations not just for laughs but tremendous critical and commercial success. To commemorate the actor’s 66th (!) birthday, we’ve assembled a shortlist of films that highlight his amazing talent, as we desperately wish he would return to acting.
‘Strange Brew’ (1983)
Moranis not only co-starred in this 1983 breakthrough film as Bob McKenzie, one half of the popular Canadian duo first launched on SCTV, but co-wrote and co-directed this film about two brothers whose idiotic scheme for free beer leads them to uncover a vast mind control conspiracy conceived by a corporate overlord played by Max Von Sydow. You know. That old story.
One of the decade’s biggest blockbusters, Ivan Reitman’s comedy added Moranis as Louis Tully, a socially awkward accountant who gets possessed by demonic spirits -- but the trade-off is that he gets to make out with his comely neighbor Dana, played by Sigourney Weaver.
‘Little Shop of Horrors’ (1986)
In Frank Oz’s musical update of the 1960 Roger Corman cheapie (adapted from the Off-Broadway sensation), Moranis plays Seymour Krelborn, a scrappy flower shop cashier whose acquisition of a strange plant has homicidal repercussions. We can't walk by a Venus flytrap without saying "Feed me, Seymour!"
Mel Brooks’ skillful “Star Wars” parody is anchored by Moranis’ performance as Lord Dark Helmet, the all-powerful but infantile commander of the Spaceball forces who learns how to fast forward the movie to learn what to do next, and eventually squares off against hero Lone Starr (Bill Pullman) using only the power of the Schwartz.
‘Honey I Shrunk the Kids’ (1989)
Joe Johnston capitalized on Moranis’ nerdy persona in earlier films like “Ghostbusters” to cast him as Wayne Szalinski, a scientist who invents a device that can shrink objects, including -- you guessed it -- his own children.
Ron Howard beautifully used Moranis in a different way in this decidedly more grounded comedy-drama, where he plays an overachieving scientist whose obsession with his daughter’s education begins to drive a wedge between him and his wife (Harley Kozak).
‘My Blue Heaven’ (1990)
Herb Ross directed this comedy about a rigid FBI agent named Barney Coopersmith (Moranis) who forges an unusual friendship with a mobster (Steve Martin) after agreeing to monitor his placement in the Witness Protection program.