Ghostbusters (1984) Movie Review
Directed by Ivan Reitman
Written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis
Release Date: 8 June 1984
Running Time: 105 minutes
Editor’s Rating: 4 out of 4 400-foot twinkies
I honestly can’t remember the first time I saw Ghostbusters. I wasn’t even born when it came out, but I watched it so much on the movie channels and television that it’s been embedded in my consciousness like so many others my age. It got to the point where it wasn’t even funny anymore, it’s something you watched because you’ve memorized every second of the movie and are just breathing it in. Speaking of, Venkman getting slimed just never seems to get old, does it?
Anyway, Ghostbusters is a tale of Peter Venkman, Ray Stantz, and Egon Spengler, three colleagues at a seemingly prestigious New York University. Their studies of the pseudoscience of the paranormal, in addition to Venkman’s sly, con-artisty vibe ends up getting them kicked out in the first five minutes of the film. Venkman, ever the optimist, decides that they should go into the business of catching ghosts for themselves.
Their new enterprise is met with, well, nothing. After weeks of trying, the only customer they have is Dana Barrett, a cellist in the New York Symphony. She believes her penthouse is haunted. Venkman believes that he’d like to haunt her. But when Stantz and Spengler realize that there is something, they start to investigate her full time. However, when they get a real call at a hotel with a ghost problem, their little operation gets some massive exposure. Soon they’re working jobs all over the city, with TV commercials, merchandise, the whole ten yards. Everything is going so well, in fact, that they take in a new hire, Winston Zeddemore. He’s a guy with bills to pay, not necessarily a guy with an interest in the paranormal. His everyman persona plays off well enough against Egon and Stantz, but his original character in earlier drafts of the script had him as a military vet with a decorated past, a tactical mind that would have been a great addition to the ‘Busters’ roster. As it is, Ernie Hudson makes the most of the role, delivering some memorable lines and standing toe to toe with guys who have twice the screentime.
As the ghosties start getting worse around town, Venkman and company are met with friction by a rep from the EPA, Walter Peck. He brings up several valid claims, to which Peter kindly tells him to urinate into the wind. Meanwhile, they continue to investigate Dana’s claim, which ends up shedding some light onto an ancient Sumerian legend of a god of destruction, Gozer, which she just happens to be rooming with. Turns out Gozer is preparing for an entryway into this world, so they can destroy it. Sounds like the city’s in trouble. So who they gonna call?
There’s nothing to not love about this movie, except maybe the unsettling implications of how Peter just conveniently had 300 cc’s of Thorazine to give to Dana when she becomes possessed, even though he was there for a date with her originally. But from William Atherton to Sigourney Weaver, everyone in this film is at the top of their game, and the production values ride this perfect line between campy and professional, enough to keep the comical tone of the movie through the inevitable spectre of death that pervades the subject matter. Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Harold Ramis are hilarious on their own, and the way their characters play off of each other is unforgettable.
There’s a reason we still watch Ghostbusters today: It’s damn good. And if you haven’t seen it yet, you’re doing yourself a great disservice.
**I watched this film on cable. I was not compensated for this review**
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