Dir. by Ivan Reitman - 1 hr. 45 min.
by Clayton Hollifield
I can't watch "Ghostbusters" without being overtaken by a wave of nostalgia. I remember Slimer, and I remember the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, and I remember that "Ghostbusters" played on one of the screens in my small town's multiplex (four screens!) for what seemed like a year and a half. I mean, I was singing along with the opening theme song absent-mindedly as the movie started, that's how drilled into my brain "Ghostbusters" is.
Who you gonna call?
Doctors Venkman (Bill Murray), Spengler (Harold Ramis) and Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) are investigators of the paranormal, with a grant from a New York college. It's more of a hunch than a field of study with a lot of concrete evidence, until they're called into the city public library, and find an apparition. This is very exciting, until they return to their offices, which are being cleaned out. The university has given them the boot, which inspires the trio to launch their own business: Ghostbusters. Paranormal investigators for hire. Their first client, Dana (Sigourney Weaver), contacts them because of a disturbance in her apartment, which ends up being the beginning of something much bigger, supernaturally speaking.
I think, most importantly, that "Ghostbusters" represents peak Bill Murray, at least concerning the first stage of his career. "Stripes" or "Caddyshack" might be funnier, but "Ghostbusters" is funny, preserves what makes Bill Murray himself, and was a huge box-office smash. Like, a thirty-five foot Twinkie weighing six-hundred pounds big. I don't want to downplay everything else about this film, but it's kind of Bill Murray's show. Other people get the chance to shine, too, but there's a hierarchy here.
As for the everything else? "Ghostbusters" is a clever, fast-paced, kinda chatty sci-fi comedy. A really funny one, that feels unlike anything that came before it. The idea of marrying comedy actors into an action film was unique then, standard operating procedure now. There's also a streak of making really cutesy, funny things horrific, which I don't remember happening a ton previous to this. One of the ghosts, Slimer, is a dripping neon green levitating Dr. Seuss character. The giant monster at the end is not a lizard or a giant monkey wrecking everything in site, it's a marshmallow company mascot. A chunk of the plot is trying to keep a possessed nebbish (Rick Moranis) away from a possessed bombshell (Sigourney Weaver). There's also a series of story-telling devices that became standard issue after "Ghostbusters" (although I'm not claiming that they invented them), most prominent among them being the "getting famous" media montage, complete with clips from interviews with famous media personalities and faked magazine covers.
And dang it, "Ghostbusters" is just a fun movie. It's broad enough for kids, Bill Murray enough for adults. There aren't any lulls, the lesser characters are still fun (particularly Annie Potts as the receptionist, and William Atherton as an easily aggravated EPA agent), and there's enough action to keep anyone from getting bored. The effects maybe haven't held up, but that's the problem with using effects in the first place, and the cheesiness of the laser beams and puppetry just add to the fun. Plus, "Ghostbusters" backs up my theory that having a unique/sweet car in a film is a shortcut to success. And the company hearse is pretty memorable. C'mon, you know you wanted to re-watch "Ghostbusters" the second you clicked on this review. Don't deny yourself!
4 / 5 - Streaming