Ghostbusters is one of those films that I grew up with. I’d bet that any child of the 80s grew up watching the Ghostbusters film, the animated series and playing with the toys. Pretty sure every child of the 80s can be prompted to sing the theme tune at the drop of the hat. They’ll also answer without hesitation to the question… “is this true?” with “yes, it’s true, this man has no dick”.What? You expected a different question? That would have been too obvious. You know what else will be obvious? Where my views of the film lie. Click the link to not be surprised.
So yeah, Ghostbusters is pretty much one of my favourite films of all time. If not THE favourite. That doesn’t mean I think it is the best. That dubious honour goes to various films depending on my current mood. One thing is always certain though, whatever my mood, whenever it may be, I am always ready to watch Ghostbusters again. Very few films give my that giddy feeling of pure fun and enjoyment like this. As a kid it was between this and Labyrinth as to which film I could watch over and over… well, maybe RoboCop and Lethal Weapon too. In recent years I’d add the first Pirates of the Caribbean film and Scott Pilgrim vs The World to that list. But other than those 5 other films there aren’t many others I can watch at a moments notice and be totally invested in. Regardless, Ghostbusters is always at the top of that list.
For those of you that where born after the 80s and had terrible parents, here’s the basic synopsis of Ghostbusters. Three Parapsychologist loose their placement at a New York university due to their lack of results regarding the finding of ghosts and other such “research” they’ve been working on. This comes just after witnessing a free floating full torso apparition at a library. A decision is made to go into business for themselves in the pursuit of capturing and containing ghosts as a sort of fourth emergency service. Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) and Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) get off to a rough start but are soon met by Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) who has the rather unique problem of her fridge being home to a Sumerian dog like demigod. Well, I mean, unique for Manhattan Island. We got them fridge dogs all over the UK. This demigod is set to bring about the end of days and it’s up to the Ghostbusters to stop it whilst also dealing with a particularly troublesome EPA agent and the huge influx of work they’re receiving as the paranormal activity swells across New York.
Whilst the film can be accused of being guilty of leaving some of the characters with practically no development, Egon, Winston (Ernie Hudson) and Louis Tully (Rick Moranis) are all very one note, the core of the film is the interplay between Peter and Dana and Peter and Ray. Essentially Peter Venkman is the centre of this films universe, and quite rightly so. His interactions with both Ray and Dana are full of intricacies and nuance that reveal him to be more than the con artist dressed as a parapsychologist you’re introduced to at the start. It would have been very easy for him to be written as a mean character but very early on you’ll see how, despite taking advantage of his friend Ray, he is basically good. Peter pursues Dana as a love interest, in his own unique slightly slimy way, but isn’t so corrupt as to take advantage of her when she’s possessed by a fairly horny demon. Horny in the quivering loins sense, not the horns on head sense. Peter is essentially a cynical, occasional jerk who manages to be likeable regardless of how he acts. This is down to Bill Murray’s charisma which was bursting at the seams at this point in his career. Couple this with his surrounding, and talented, cast and you have what is a showcase of Bill’s talents in a role that was originally not meant for him. He owns every second he is on the screen.
It’s the charisma of Murray’s Venkman and the quality of the rest of the cast which manages to grip you from the start by tickling your funny bones, providing honest and fun interactions and also managing to act as a buffer for the strange, ghostly occurrences going on around New York. The ghosts of Ghostbusters are never just people floating around. The free floating full torso apparition at the films opening sequence mutates into a terrifying monstrosity upon being disturbed. The ghosts are designed to be genuinely otherworldly with characteristics that inform you of their personalities upon a first look. When you see the green floating stomach that is Slimer you can tell that he’s one greedy ghost. The effects work on these ghosts are beginning to really show their age now but not so much that it’ll take you out of the film. Other than some clear masking on certain super-imposed effects it’s really just a case of the technology being out dated now. This will not hinder your enjoyment one bit though.
You can’t talk about Ghostbusters without discussing the soundtrack. Ray Parker Jr gives his greatest performance with the Oscar nominated hit “Ghostbusters”. That one song likely set him up for life and then some. God knows nothing else he ever did contributed as much. Along with that is a number of classic soul songs that just feel right for the time. It may be an aspect of the film that dates it to the mid 80s, and usually I can’t stand dating a film with music, but it all fits with the films mixture of grounded comedy and spectacular supernatural events. It fits by being so perfectly of the time that it stops being just the music playing over a scene but becomes a part of the film’s setting itself. This is a soundtrack that was picked perfectly to represent New York of the 80s. Before all that rap stuff started coming along and spoiling my fun. It should be noted that the Ghostbusters theme lost it’s Best Original Song award to Prince’s Purple Rain, the only song that year that was more 80s.
I’ve always held the screenplay of Ghostbusters in high regard, although how it all comes together on film would not have worked if it wasn’t for the specific talents involved. Only Ivan Reitman and the collective minds of the cast and crew could have gotten away with giving us a finale involving a 50ft tall walking marshmallow man and it not feeling out of place or goofy. Well, it’s a little goofy, but 100% awesome. Reitman hasn’t quite come close to besting this film and when you watch it you can feel why that is the case. Ghostbusters truly feels like a project made by people who all care to the fullest that they possibly can. The film oozes fun and charm to go along with it’s effects and spectacle. I love the screenplay for being so tightly crafted, yet with freedom for the improvisational skills of the cast. It introduces Winston at the exact moment we need a surrogate audience member to view the bizarre happenings through. I often will use it as an example of the perfect 3 act structure in terms of it’s pacing and laser precision timing.
So as you can tell I like Ghostbusters a lot. It cheers me up when I’m down. It’s like a movie based friend that I know will never leave me, or some hippy shit like that. If you have kids and you haven’t made them watch Ghostbusters then you’re doing child rearing wrong and should probably start over. Also, make them watch Labyrinth. Also, why haven’t I reviewed Labyrinth on here. Doubly also, make them watch RoboCop. Cos kids have to learn about violence sooner of later and it may as well be from a robot man. So yeah, Ghostbusters… It’s a really good film.