(1984, Ivan Reitman)
“Who ya gonna call?”
I don’t really need to introduce Ghostbusters. Like many of the films I’ve already reviewed, it’s part of our cultural makeup, parodied and paid homage to many times before. It follows three scientists, Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis), Ray Stantz (Dan Akroyd) and Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) as they start up a business designed to investigate and capture spiritual entities, otherwise known as Ghostbusters. Shortly after opening, New York begins to experience a wave of paranormal activity, sweeping up the residents of an apartment building, including Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver), who Venkman seems quite fond of.
The film is a classic of the 80s, and is so beloved it spawned a sequel, cartoon spin-offs and several video games. It’s often quoted and referenced by many people, and its theme tune by Ray Parker Jr is an iconic song. But how much does it deserve all these accolades?
Well, Ghostbusters is very funny. The gags are frequent, and both Akroyd and Ramis were knowledgeable enough about the paranormal for all the jokes to be clever and not just cheap Scooby-Doo gags. Sometimes the humour isn’t perfect, occasionally suffering the odd bum line here and there, but it always picks itself back up quickly. But of course, much of the humour comes from Bill Murray, who is well-known as the master of deadpan sarcasm. Every line of his is fantastic, and as a result he steals the show. And thankfully, Ivan Reitman noticed, since he takes up so much screen time.
The plot isn’t too brilliant, consisting mostly of utilising a vague ancient civilisation to justify the weirdness going on, but at the same time it seems to be aware of this. It plays the plot just as silly as it seems, and rarely plays itself as anything deep and meaningful. Even when the Bible scripture is brought up, it seems to be there to provide banter between characters, and that’s as deep as it gets. The movie doesn’t try to be thought-provoking, it tries to be entertaining, and for this it’s commendable.
However, where the film tends to fall down is in its special effects. The ancient Sumerian dog deities are rarely ever believable, looking far too rubber while seated and awkwardly animated and unconvincingly overlaid while moving. Other ghosts or spiritual portals tend to scream matte painting or chroma key and never seem to truly interact with the real actors. Which is a shame because, despite the humour, the movie does seem to be trying very hard to make its own paranormal world as convincing as possible otherwise.
Ultimately though, Ghostbusters is a genuine classic, deserving of its status as a major part of pop culture.
Starring Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver & Rick Moranis
Written by Dan Akroyd & Harold Ramis
Produced by Ivan Reitman
Music score by Elmer Bernstein
Cinematography by Laszlo Kovacs
Edited by David E. Blewitt & Sheldon Kahn
Favourite Scene: Venkman tries to deal with a possessed Dana, and it’s clear that Bill Murray was having a great time with this scene. He’s almost laughing at the absurdity of it all himself.
Scene That Bugged Me: During a montage demonstrating the Ghostbusters’ growing success, Ray gets a blowjob from a ghost. Remember how I said some jokes fall flat? That was a major offender.
Watch it if: You ain’t afraid of no ghost
Avoid it if: Watching this will cause you to cross the streams. Don’t cross the streams. It would be bad.
Originally posted on Blogspot Saturday 7 January 2012