Movie #55: Ghost Busters (1984)

Ghostbusters_cover

We’re Ready To Believe You.  They ain’t afraid of no ghost.  Who ya gonna call? Ghostbusters!

Starring:

Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Sigourney Weaver, Rick Moranis, Annie Potts, and Ernie Hudson

There have been many times that I’ve said that when a film realistically represents normal life, the added layers of story and characters are more organic and great than something completely off-the-wall.

This is not one of those movies, but it’s still great.

Dr. Peter Venkman (Murray), Dr. Ray Stantz (Aykroyd), and Dr. Egon Spengler (Ramis) are parapsychology professors at Columbia University.  Having been fired from their job, they go into business for themselves capturing ghosts and monitoring paranormal activity in New York City.  They discover that Gozer, an ancient Sumerian shape-shifting god of destruction, is planning on coming through a portal at the apartment building of their first customer, Dana Barrett (Weaver), a woman with whom Venkman wants to get with.

There are so many places to go with this film.  Aykroyd and Ramis wrote the script, which went through a major overhaul after initial interest from director Ivan Reitman.  Aykroyd’s fascination with the paranormal was the original inspiration for doing a film like this.  It’s a good mix or science fiction and comedy.  I would not have been surprised if this film had been in the comedy category of the book.  It’s ranked in the AFI’s 100 Years, 100 laughs category.

Without a doubt, Bill Murray steals the movie.

This was at the height of many of the lead actors careers, but it is Murray that stole the show.  His comedic timing, the off-beat, don’t have a care in the world attitude is entertaining.  He’s a guy that you either love or hate if you’re dealing with him.  Clearly Ray and Egon have known him long enough that they know they’re stuck with him as a friend.  His interactions with Walter Peck (William Atherton), an EPA nut-job is the thing of legend.   His lack of caring, though, doesn’t take away from his intelligence and importance to the group.

Ramis and Aykroyd do a great job of complementing Murray’s comedy, though, and keep everyone informed of the details and significance of each event.  This balances out the comedy in moving the story forward.

Ernie Hudson does great as Winston Zeddemore in bringing more of the everyman’s perspective to all the scientific jargon.  His bringing God and Judgement Day into the story is a question that I’m not sure would have been explored as much if the film was made today, but it’s though-provoking and good to consider.

ghostbusterstwinkie  No Ghost Busters review is complete without mentioning the Twinkie.

While the leads did a great job, the supporting cast also carries their own.  Annie Potts is enjoyable as Janine the secretary.  Her character isn’t intimidated by the guys she works for, and it shows.  Sigourney Weaver is also holds her own with Murray and the others.  Rick Moranis does great at Louis, the nerd who tries to get the girl he had no shot with, and loves explaining stuff no one has any interest in hearing about.

Ghost Busters is significant for a number of reasons.  The comedy, obviously, but also the constant presence of great one-liners throughout the film.  Another that can’t be ignored is the theme song.  That may have been the biggest star of the show.  The film was nominated for two Oscars (Best Song and Visual Effects).  While the effects are definitely dated, the song is something that anyone who was alive at or around the time of this movie’s release can easily recognize.  I remember growing up going to the skating rink with my family and it was just the greatest thing when this song was played.

The film was shot for around $30 million and grossed about $230 million, with an additional $30 when it was re-released the following year.  Only Beverly Hills Cop earned more at the box office in 1984.

Ghost Busters is a great film, purposeful and strong acting throughout the cast, and is one of those that you can enjoy again and again.  It’ll be a while before I watch this one again, but it’s always great to see/quote this one.

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

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