GHOSTBUSTERS (1984)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 1 hour 45 minutes

MPAA Rating: PG

Ghostbusters poster

Directed by: Ivan Reitman

Written by: Dan Aykroyd & Harold Ramis

Starring: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts, Sigourney Weaver & Rick Moranis

The sixth highest-grossing movie of the 1980’s, GHOSTBUSTERS went on to become more than just a massive box office hit. This film is widely considered to be one of the greatest horror-comedies ever made, has become a timeless cultural phenomenon, and even spawned many cartoons and a less-successful sequel. There are many reasons why GHOSTBUSTERS sticks out among hordes of other comedies and ghost stories. One reason comes in the form of wildly creative set-pieces, another is the hilarious trio of Murray, Aykroyd, and Ramis, and one more could stem from the fast-paced supernatural plot that hooks the viewer from start to finish. As a result of these mentioned qualities and more, GHOSTBUSTERS is a highly entertaining ride!

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Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Raymond Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), and Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) are three disgraced parapsychologists. When they lose their jobs as college professors, the trio of friends decide to start their own business as paranormal exterminators, called the Ghostbusters! This supernatural investigation business seems doomed until the Ghostbusters receive their first customer: Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver), a woman who claims that her apartment is haunted. As the ghostbusting business begins to take off and becomes a media sensation, something very dangerous is on the horizon and it’s living in Dana’s apartment building!

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GHOSTBUSTERS is a comedy. It has ghosts, monsters, and a handful of spooky visuals, but these rarely overshadow the laughs and light-hearted atmosphere. These enjoyable latter qualities are supplied by four diverse, very funny characters. Murray’s Venkman easily steals the show as a lovable jerk who uses science as a means to get girls. Aykroyd’s Stanz is a paranormal-obsessed geek, who holds his supernatural obsession as a higher priority than his team’s safety. Ramis’s Spengler is a borderline emotionless individual who does research, invents technology and spouts exposition, but his social awkwardness provides a lot of laughs. Finally, Ernie Hudson becomes a fourth Ghostbuster midway through the film. Though he receives solid one-liners, not much development or personality are given to Hudson’s character…other than him simply being the fourth Ghostbuster, which I found to be the film’s only noticeable flaw.

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There are a handful of non-ghost characters in the supporting cast. Sigourney Weaver (during the gap between ALIEN and ALIENS) plays Venkman’s love-interest Dana. She’s more than a damsel in distress, because we get bits of her character without the Ghostbusters around. Even though Dana turns into a walking plot device later on, Weaver still manages to elevate her character into a memorable one. Rick Moranis is perfectly cast as Dana’s geeky neighbor and delivers outright hilarious moments. One of his best scenes being a lame party goes demonically awry. Annie Potts is a lot of fun as the Ghostbusters underpaid and overworked secretary. William Atherton is great in his short-lived role of EPA officer Walter Peck, who becomes a brief rival to Venkman.

Ghostbusters

GHOSTBUSTERS is fast-paced and never feels dull in the slightest. Even when the film is delivering exposition, it does so in clever ways that usually involve Ramis’s awkward character. As far as the ghosts go, there are a handful of them and they are distinctly memorable. Notable monsters include: a transparent librarian (who used to scare the crap out of me when I was little), the iconic Slimer, a bevy of other briefly glimpsed ghouls (including one creepy possessed cab driver), a couple of hell hounds, a pissed off ancient deity, and a hilarious bringer of destruction. A giant Stay Puft Marshmallow Man terrorizing New York stands out as the film’s most iconic visual and seems to have somehow grown even more hilarious over the years.

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GHOSTBUSTERS is a classic comedy that has deservedly earned its place in cinematic history. It’s one of the most iconic movies to come out of the 1980’s and still holds up extremely well by today’s standards. Besides being funny from start to finish, the movie was clearly crafted with care and love by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis (who wrote the screenplay). Aykroyd is obsessed with the paranormal and that passion translated perfectly onto the screen. Though it may hit a brief narrative stumble by doing almost nothing with Ernie Hudson’s character, GHOSTBUSTERS is a near perfect romp that hasn’t aged a day in its entertainment value. On a side note, just try to get that catchy theme song out of your head!

Grade: A

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