High on the list of favorite actors from my childhood years is a bespectacled “every-man” capable of vanquishing ghosts, shrinking teenagers, and channeling “The Schwartz” to co-head an empire. That man and comedy legend, is Rick Moranis.
While I, personally, am the level of Rick Moranis fan to name my Fantasy Football team “The Louis Tully All-Stars” (accompanied by a pic of his character from Ghostbusters 2 as the icon, see below), hearing his name seems to spark a smile and a “Hey, what ever happened to that guy?” out of most anyone who hears it.
The answer to that question is sad but respectable. In 1991, Rick lost his wife Anne to breast cancer, and was unexpectedly thrown into the role of single parent to their two young children. The next couple years that followed gave us a few more memorable Moranis roles including a “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” sequel, a turn as an underdog football coach in “Little Giants”, and as Barney Rubble in 1994’s live-action “The Flintstones” movie. However, after a few years of tapering down the workload while trying to balance it with personal priorities, eventually he completely stepped away from the big screen to raise his son and daughter full time.
(*Rick Moranis' children NOT pictured below*)
Unfortunately for his fans and the comedy world in general, Moranis’ appearances have been very scarce since. More specifically, he hasn’t truly appeared in anything, but only limited himself to very sparse voiceover work since the early 00's. The most notable being his 2003 role as 1/2 a duo of moose brothers in Disney's otherwise forgettable animated feature "Brother Bear" which reunited him with long-time comedy cohort Dave Thomas in a clear callback to their famous “Bob & Doug McKenzie” characters from “SCTV” and their movie “Strange Brew”.
In recent years the Moranis void in our lives has felt extra apparent due most recently to the fact that he declined a cameo in the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot which managed to feature all the other stars of the original. But while you couldn’t find him on screen in the past decade, he’s been contributing to pop culture in a less expected medium. In 2006 Moranis released an album of 13 twangy tunes called “The Agoraphobic Cowboy”; it’s self-deprecating title simultaneously confirming that if there was any doubt, “yes, this is THAT Rick Moranis” and poking fun at it’s author’s post movie star life. The album is as likely to make you tap your foot along as it is to audibly chuckle. In 2013 he released another album, the hilariously named “My Mother's Brisket & Other Love Songs” that in title alone, confirms the comedian we know is still in there, he’s just found another outlet.
Tonight we get a rare treat. Rick Moranis will once again entertain us anew through a screen! Anyone who's caught an episode of ABC’s The Goldbergs can attest that no show better caters to nostalgic 80’s kids. Tonight’s May 9th Spaceballs episode promises to be no exception as Rick Moranis will lend his voice to Lord Helmet again. While I would vouch for The Goldberg’s high comedy quality regardless of guest star, it’s extra impressive and further evidence that they got The Agoraphobic Cowboy to leave his house to take part. In whatever capacity it ends up being, I’m glad to have Rick Moranis back, even if it’s for just one night.
[If you miss The Goldbergs live, catch it on ABC.com and Hulu.]