- Directed and Produced by Ivan Reitman
- June 8, 1984
A group of scientists turned paranormal investigators face off against a Sumerian deity bent on destroying the world.
Ghostbusters is a classic. It was a classic from shortly after its premiere. A true instant classic in film is a rare thing. Most films are good when they come out but become a classic based on their rewatchability and how they can still be talked about years or decades later. This film showed its greatness right off the bat. This movie not only makes you smile but you will have some genuine laughs as well.
And just as important it looks good. It has quality effects and well-designed supernatural characters whose appearances fit in line with the film but are not so silly as to not be taken seriously by the viewer. You need to feel that the supernatural entity is a threat to the characters even if it would not look like a threat to you in real life. Would anybody be afraid of Slimer (referred to as “The Onionhead Ghost” in the credits) for example if they saw them in real life? Probably not but Slimer does look believable enough to put a fright into the characters of this movie.
How many comedic films are blessed enough to have every lead to be so very talented? Bill Murray. Dan Aykroyd. Harold Ramis. Ernie Hudson. All very talented actors who knew just how much to give and how to handle the roles they played. Ernie Hudson is not someone I generally associate with comedy. I am not sure what silly things he has all done but I am willing to bet they could be counted on one hand. As demonstrated here he has the definite ability to handle lighter comedy but somehow this movie just did not translate into more comedic roles for him. At least not that I can think of.
Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis), and Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson) are all classic characters. Venkman is the cynic who is in more to make a buck than because he believes. Ray is like a kid. Egon is the brains more comfortable in a lab than in the field. Winston is the everyman. They each performed a different role.
Sigourney Weaver as Dana Barrett was as much of a surprise as Hudson. While this was not whacky comedy, but it was still comedy. She was known for more serious work before this yet did fantastic. Annie Potts was perfect as Janine Melnitz. She had what could be described as the perfect New York attitude for the character. And Rick Moranis as Louis Tully was just perfect and possibly at his most Rick Moranis in this part.
I loved the interaction between Janine and Egon. It was a very one-sided romantic subplot. Egon seemed completely oblivious to Janine’s advances. For me this was an interesting counterpoint to the womanizing nature of Peter Venkman who was somehow made a lovable womanizer. He uses his position of authority on attractive college females and clearly would hit on anything with breasts that looked his way. Only someone like Bill Murray could make someone like that genuinely likable.
The props in this film are iconic. The proton pack being chief among them. ECTO One is probably one of the coolest vehicles in film and something without whom this movie would just not be the same. Sure they could have included a van that they all piled out of but this vehicle helped to give the movie a signature all its own.
And it always helps for a movie to have a signature song. A song that whenever it is heard immediately connects the listener to the movie. Ray Parker Jr.’s theme song is one such bit of music. It is as integral and as connected to this film universe as any song could be. It is the equivalent of “Eye of the Tiger” to the Rocky series.
This is one movie I saw a lot in my youth. Not because I had an obsessive love with it but because my oldest nephew had an obsessive love with it. That kid (he is in his late 30s now so he is not much of a kid anymore) watched it nearly every day. I often got stuck watching it with him. Not as much as my mother but it was still plenty. And you know something? It is still good. It did not lose its magic or its enjoyability. That says something. That says how well-made and well-cast and well shot this is and what a great story there is. Something played regularly on a loop can wear out its welcome, but this does not.
Ghostbusters is funny. It is witty. The direction is great. The casting is on point. The acting is perfect. But most importantly this movie is fun. It does not take itself seriously. It has nothing deep to say. Its only goal is to entertain the audience. It does not think it is groundbreaking or a piece of art. It realizes it is junk food and embraces that and by doing so becomes something great. Movies these days can learn a lesson from this film. Be entertaining. If you do that then the rest follows.
Ghostbusters is an excellent film. It has laughs. It has fun. After a little over 30 years, it is still as good as the day it was released. If for some reason you have not acquainted yourself with this film do so now!