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Ghostbusters (1984)

by on 2013/08/06

Ghostbusters (1984)


“Some moron brought a cougar to a party and it went berserk.”

* * * *

If you’re looking for a light comedy with supernatural touches, big hair, and chain-smoking, Ghostbusters is ready to believe you (or something to that effect).

That premise would have served me well if I’d written this review two days ago. At that point, I had seen this movie perhaps a half-dozen times in my life, scattered between its 1984 release, and the present. Let’s just say I wasn’t a fan.

But as with Unforgiven – which I have since (wait for it) forgiven – my latest screening has endeared a former endurance test to me.

The plot is rather straightforward. Three scientists outcast by academia go into business for themselves, and hit it big when New York is besieged by an increasing number of hauntings. There’s more to it, but not much.

The narrative structure is interesting. It’s simple and straightforward, not the usual heroic journey which typifies other such successful movies. The characters appear fully formed, aren’t seriously challenged, and never evolve. Their unconventional belief in the paranormal is immediately validated, and they simply move episodically from one success to another.

And yet it works, due in no small part to the charm of the players: Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, and Harold Ramis, joined by Ernie Hudson, Rick Moranis, Annie Potts, and Sigourney Weaver. Fans of Die Hard will see William Atherton and Reginald VelJohnson, Three’s Company connoisseurs will catch a glimpse of Jordan “Mister Angelino” Charney, and cameo spotters will recognize Casey Kasem, Joe Franklin, and Larry King.

As in Meatballs and Stripes, Bill Murray draws most of the limelight as a flippant man-child. Sure, his character is still doing the right things for the wrong reasons – ego, greed, lust, or just attention – but he’s less offensive now, less threatening, always enthused, motivational, inspirational, and even generous.

Less offensive, mind you, not completely inoffensive.

Whatever the reason, I enjoyed myself far more than I expected. I could expend unnecessary energy detailing the loose editing, haloed effects, and unsatisfying final act, but that would be nitpicking. With Ghostbusters, Ivan Reitman has created a work an order of magnitude beyond his prior efforts. It proved to be the kind of experience I desperately hope for: against previous repeatedly confirmed expectations, I somehow found new understanding and enjoyment.

At last I’m ready to believe . . . oh, never mind.

* * * *

Rated PG

105 mins

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2 Comments
  1. Daniel permalink

    Ghostbusters is a great Movie ! Very funny & sometimes a bit scary.

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