After three parapsychologists are kicked out of their university, they set up shop as the Ghostbusters, an elite force who will assist in any supernatural goings-on that may be bothering you. When a portal appears in the refrigerator of a particularly attractive client, the guys have their work cut out for them in working out what is going on, and how they can stop it.
When you think of Ghostbusters, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Is it the floating green slime-monster? Perhaps it’s Sigourney Weaver levitating above her bed? Or maybe even the skyscraper-high man terrorising New York, who just happens to be made entirely out of marshmallow? No, you’re wrong, it’s none of these things. The first thing you think about when you think about Ghostbusters, is Bill Murray. Why is Bill Murray the first thing you think about when you think about Ghostbusters? Because Bill Murray is hilarious. Yes, in general, but specifically here, as the sarcastic, unenthusiastic, driven-by-his-penis Dr. Peter Venkman, to whom we are first introduced conducting a study into two students’ potentially psychic abilities, but which is a thinly veiled scam to get into the female student’s underwear. Murray has many great comedic performances in his career, but I’d have to argue that Ghostbusters is pretty damn near the top. Groundhog Day is possibly the only one that beats it. The notes I took to assist this review whilst watching Ghostbusters is essentially a string of quotes from the film, and most of them come from Murray, my favourite of which is probably “Yes, it’s true, this man has no dick.” It doesn’t play well out of context, but trust me, during the film it’s priceless.
I kind of jumped into the middle a little there, so let’s back this up a bit. I love Ghostbusters. It’s one of those films that I forget just how much I love it, and many years will go by between viewings, as is the case with the recently reviewed Raiders of the Lost Ark and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. All three and dyed-in-the-wool classics, but for some reason I don’t watch them nearly as often as I should, and that’s something that becomes harder to rectify the more great films I realise I love – it leaves less time to share between them.The key strengths of Ghostbusters lie in its cast, script and effects. Our main three scientists are the aforementioned Bill Murray, along with Harold Ramis (RIP) as the nerdiest nerd that ever nerded Dr. Egon Spengler (I love the names in this movie too) and Dan Aykroyd as Dr. Ray Stantz, the boyish, easily excited, constantly gleeful heart of the team. When the guys are scouting for a new base to set up shop and they discovered an abandoned fire station, Egon and Venkman attempt to criticise the place in order for the estate agent to reduce the price, but once Ray finds the fireman’s pole, it’s as good as sold. These three are eventually joined by a fourth, Ernie Hudson as the guy with the coolest name in movie history, Winston Zeddemore (if I ever get a dog, I’m naming him Winston, not because of Churchill, because of this dude right here). He’s seen shit that’ll turn you white, regardless of what colour you were to begin with
William Atherton plays essentially the same dickish prick he’d go on to play in Die Hard, whilst Sigourney Weaver goes a little against type as Dana, the client whose icebox has become inhabited by a Sumerian God of destruction, who starts off as enjoyably curt and icy towards Venkman’s advances, but eventually becomes a possessed sexpot for the final act. Weaver has rarely used her not inconsiderable beauty and feminine whiles in films, so it’s refreshing to see her embrace them for a change, whilst still being funny and interesting as a character. Also on hand is another one of my favourites, Rick Moranis as Dana’s impossibly geeky neighbour Louis, who here is possibly at his most Rick-Moranis-y. I really miss him as an actor, and would dearly love him to come out of retirement for something other than another Brother Bear sequel.
The script is nothing but hilarity. Everyone gets a fair share of the comedy, but it’s not all in the dialogue. From the cheesy over-staged TV commercial, the way Winston is comically in the background or behind someone else in practically every shot and is rarely in as much peril as the other three, even easy hits like Louis always getting locked out of his apartment or his inexplicably Barbie-proportioned girlfriend, rarely is an opportunity for mirth-making missed.
For 1984, the special effects are phenomenal, and for the most part they still hold up today. Granted some of the work around the dog-like beasts are a bit hit-and-miss, especially when they are running through the dark, but considering elsewhere there are multiple translucent flying apparitions, claws erupting from armchairs and, of course, the giant Stay Puft marshmallow man, a few niggles here and there can be forgiven.
I honestly can’t pick any even minor flaws with this film. Maybe I’m clouded by the slimy haze of childhood nostalgia, but I genuinely believe this to be one of those perfect comedies that we just don’t seem to see any more. Either way, I’m glad I opted to review this as part of the 1984-a-thon, else who knows how long it would have been until I saw it again!
Choose film 10/10