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   GHOSTBUSTERS (1984) 

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CAST
Bill Murray
Dan Aykroyd
Sigourney Weaver
Harold Ramis
Rick Moranis
Annie Potts
William Atherton
Ernie Hudson
David Margulies

DIRECTED BY
Ivan Reitman

PURCHASE


DVD




Time: 107 mins.
Rating: PG
Genre: Comedy/Action

Academy Award nominations for Best Visual Effects and Best Song.


In the wake of the upcoming EVOLUTION, another comedy directed by Ivan Reitman about men battling otherwordly forces, I decided it was high time to write about one of my all-time favorite movies. I find it just as funny now as I did when I saw it three times in the theater in 1984. There's something magical about a film where everything just comes together perfectly. Murray had already made the comedy classics CADDYSHACK and STRIPES, but it was this film that blasted his fame into the stratosphere. He couldn't have chosen two better partners in crime than Harold Ramis and Dan Aykroyd. Together they complete a perfect comedy trifecta of blatant sarcasm, bone dry wit and pure silliness. Even Weaver, more well-known for her dramatic work against aliens, is dangerously funny here. Of course, all of their talent would have amounted to nothing without the brilliant script by Ramis and Aykroyd. It's not easy to write a screenplay that's funny and speaks to its' audience. It's a miracle when one continues to do so decades later.

This is not a particularly complicated story. It centers on the waning careers of three paranormal professors, who are more hucksters than scientists. Their lack of any real scientific data gets them thrown on the street, forcing them to rethink their careers. With few choices available to them, they decide to open a ghost removal service. They are hoping for success, but are completely unprepared for the onslaught of calls that come their way. It seems New York has become a breeding ground for the undead. Peter Venkman (Murray) is generally uninterested in the hands-on/geeky part of the job until they get a visit from the enchanting Dana Barrett (Weaver). Strange things have been happening in her apartment and though she doesn't believe in ghosts is scared to return until a "professional" takes a look at the situation. Her conversation with Peter doesn't exactly put her mind at ease, he's more interested in her than the eggs that fried themselves on her counter, but she doesn't have many options. They are the only "ghostbusters" in the city.


"I don't have to take this abuse from you, I've got hundreds of people dying to abuse me."

While Peter is trying to score with Dana, Ray (Aykroyd) and Egon (Ramis) uncover the mystery of her visitation. It seems the creature she saw in her refrigerator is an ancient god named Zool. A real mean bastard who is apparently trying to re-enter the living world through Dana and her building, which is made of a highly unusual material. Of course, their activities get them in trouble with the city – you can't really lay low when you're shooting off nuclear powered radiation beams – but they eventually manage to wheedle their way onto the mayor's good side and are given their freedom. However, they begin to wish they were back in jail when the come face to face with Zool and his evil counterparts. In a finale you have to see to believe, they emerge victorious, saving New York City from certain doom and Dana from a life as a minion from hell. It's a happy, if messy ending.

Besides the classic one-liners, the thing that keeps this film fun and exciting are the special effects. Sure, they're a little creaky, but for the most part hold up fairly well for a film made before the advent of CGI. What keeps them from being horribly outdated is the simplicity and imagination that went into the creation of the ghosts. By giving them outlandish or grotesque personalities, you are more entranced by what they're doing than what they look like. The actors reactions to these creatures certainly helps their believability factor. They may have been professors of the paranormal, but they're just as scared by these creatures as everyone else. Their final foe, the StayPuff Marshmallow Man, is a true stroke of genius, being both hysterically funny and completely terrifying. Who knew marshmallow could be so scary.

This was Reitman and Murray's third time at bat and they truly hit a home run. It's clear that by this point he knew exactly how to mold Murray into the perfect character for his talent. No one does impudent and smarmy better, but this time there's a real heart and brain behind the smirk. GHOSTBUSTERS gave him the chance to show his romantic side...and it's more charming than you would think. As much as Weaver tries to get rid of him, there's something about his persistence and childishness that's irresistible. I had never seen Weaver before this film and thought she was quite funny in it. She's certainly playing the straight man, but she manages not to be a stiff and holds her own against Murray. Not an easy task I'm sure. The supporting cast – Rick Moranis, Annie Potts and Ernie Hudson – are indispensable to the story and add much of the film's quirky humor. I can't believe there's anyone out there who hasn't seen this movie, but if you're one of them, you are missing one of the great comedies of all time. If you have a DVD player this is definitely one to purchase. The extras are great, especially the commentary, which really brings you behind the scenes of this comedy classic.



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