Ghostbusters

Ghostbusters photo starrating-5stars.jpgHard to believe, but 2014 is the 30th anniversary of Ghostbusters. 1984 was a magical summer for me. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, The Karate Kid and The Last Starfighter were all movies I saw that year. And that June 8th weekend was a historic one because it not only marked the debut of Ivan Reitman’s comedy classic, but of also another big hit. Gremlins was in fact THE major release that weekend. It was opening in many more theaters and it was executive produced by Steven Spielberg who was red hot from directing E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial two years prior. Even Beat Street, now a little remembered music drama about a newly emerging dance style called breakdancing, was launched in more theaters. Despite debuting on fewer screens, the picture would ultimately become the 2nd highest grossing film of the year. Beverly Hills Cop, opening at the end of the year, would be #1.

It wasn’t easy to find. My local cinema that only charged $2 wasn’t showing it, but me and my buddies desperately wanted to see it.   I was too young to drive so we had to beg my friend’s mom to take us so we could make the trip out of town. $5 for a matinee which in 1984 was outrageously expensive. That would be like $12 today. Unbelievable! I can remember sitting in that darkened theater wide eyed at the special effects, laughing at the gut-busting one-liners. I was captivated by what I saw and it immediately became a treasured favorite. I still cite it any time I’m asked to list my top movies. I’ll admit my love is influenced by nostalgia, but I find it has lost none of its luster.

The plot is secondary to the fun, but I’ll recount it anyway. There’s this high rise apartment building in New York at 55 Central Park West, see. It’s being haunted by a demonic spirit named Zuul which starts terrorizing poor musician Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) in her kitchen. Meanwhile compatible demi-god Vinz Clortho the Keymaster attacks nerdy accountant Louis Tully (Rick Moranis) at a party he’s throwing for his clients. Both beings act as loyal minions preparing the way for Gozer the Gozerian, a Sumerian god of destruction who can manifest itself in different forms. Scientists Peter Venkman, Ray Stantz and Egon Spengler are doctors of parapsychology. With paranormal activity in New York on the rise, they create The Ghostbusters, an exterminating business of sorts.

Ghostbusters is quite simply one of my most beloved films of all time. The iconic production is a perfect marriage of a special effects extravaganza with spectacular performances to create one side-splitting gem. Bill Murray is the undeniable star and he’s in top form as Dr. Peter Venkman a sly, laid back scientist with deadpan delivery that seems more concerned with dating his pretty client Dana Barrett than actually getting to the bottom of her disturbances. Sigourney Weaver nicely straddles the line between exasperated annoyance and charmed love interest. Bill Murray likewise has great camaraderie with his fellow Ghostbusters Dr. Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) and Dr. Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis). Those two are also responsible for writing the finely tuned screenplay. It zips, it pops and it never lets up. Ernie Hudson joins them later as Winston Zeddemore. He delivers my favorite quip after the group is blown away by the lightening bolts of an evil entity from another dimension. There is a slew of funny dialogue and Rick Moranis’ nerdy portrayal of Louis Tully delivers a lot of it. He‘s hilarious. “Okay, who brought the dog?” he grins after hearing the growl from the long horned beast hiding in his closet.

The spectacular special effects support the story, but they never threaten to overshadow the actors. The technology was state of the art at the time, even earning an Academy Award nomination.  But it lost to the mine cart scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Perhaps time has rendered the optics a bit quaint to a modern audience. The sight of that devil dog leaping from the closet and running around the city is the most dicey. But it’s the comedic interactions between characters that hold our focus, not the whiz bang appeal of the visual displays. Ok so there’s that “monster” near the end that dwarfs everything else. When the Destructor of their choosing threatens the city and their very existence, it’s memorable. That’s the kind of silly moment of brilliance that makes you realize you’re watching a work of creative genius. Oh yeah.  I adore this film.

09-06-14

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28 Responses to “Ghostbusters”

  1. I hadn’t seen this in a while. So glad I got the chance to revisit this classic. I’d forgot how many funny lines it had. I was loving it all over again. 5 stars

  2. Very good to get some insight into some of your top picks of all time. Gotta say, you’ve got some taste sir! What a ride of a movie. And you really can’t get much better than the trio of Murray, Ramis and Aykroyd, can you? 🙂

  3. So did you go to the theatrical re-release this last week? It looks great on the big screen.

  4. Ah. A total classic if there ever was one. Good review Mark.

  5. I recently rewatched these and they’re so funny!

  6. “Real wrath of God type stuff. Dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!”
    Opened in UK Boxing Day 1984. One of my fave Bill Murray movies. RIP Harold Ramis
    Thank you for this nice slice of nostalgia, Mark – absolutely nothing wrong w including this on your Top Movies list.
    Some movies nowadays cld never come close to recreating the zest and zaniness on show in this thoroughly 80s movie.
    An’ love that cab-driving ghoul – he’s cool!
    http://bradscribe.wordpress.com/2014/09/06/outer-space-outta-bounds/
    Cheers!

  7. One of those widely loved films which I never mind revisiting. Nice story about your childhood.

  8. Yep, definitely a classic film that hits all the buttons! I’ve never seen Ghostbusters at the cinema, I hope I get the chance! I’m probably in the minority here, but I do like the sequel, as inferior to the original that it is.

  9. Nice review. There was a time that whenever Ghostbusters was playing on cable I’d watch it. Certainly one of my favorite comedies and it has really aged well, even though the special effects might be dated.

  10. I watched Ghostbusters for the first time when it go rereleased in the theatres for its’s 30th anniversary. It was great to experience it on the big screen. Billy Murray’s the man! Good review.

  11. Amazing film. One of my childhood favourites. Just hope they don’t try to release a third.

    • I know. I hate to break this to you, but Sony Pictures is eyeing an early 2015 production start for Ghostbusters III. Ivan Reitman will NOT direct. Paul Feig is currently attached.

  12. Wow, 1984 must have been an amazing year for cinema. I didn’t realize all of those films came out around then. Ghostbusters is a beloved movie for me too and one of my all-time favorites. My first time seeing it in the theater was actually its re-release around Labor Day. I wasn’t alive during its original theatrical run. The comedy is obviously what propels the story forward and the chemistry of the cast is unrivaled. Yes, the special effects look dated, especially the dog running across Central Park, but we can all agree that we don’t watch this picture for its cutting-edge special effects. Still, in the re-release I noticed some nice adjustments that made the movie look much sharper.

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