Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Movie #197: Ghostbusters

Ghostbusters, if you're a young 'un, was one of the greatest movies of the 80s, maybe one of the greatest comedies ever. Directed by Ivan Reitman and starring Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, Annie Potts, Rick Moranis, and William Atherton, it follows the careers of three scientists who become "paranormal elimination experts." And then save the world.

You all know the story, but if you don't, go see the movie. But what the heck. Peter Venkman (Murry), Ray Stanz (Ackroyd) and Egon Spengler (Ramis) are parapsychologists working out of a university in New York. While Stanz and Spengler are quite earnest in their desire to find and even capture ghosts, Venkman is happy just using his position to get laid and kick back. But after an encounter with a real, no-fuckin'-around ghost, they're kicked out of the university for being terrible scientists, and go into business as the "Ghostbusters."

At first, no one bites, but then a musician named Dana Barret (Weaver) hires them because she has visions of a monster-covered ziggaraut in her fridge, and shortly thereafter, they get their first real call to actually bust a ghost. And from there, it all takes off, they become celebrities, they're badly overworked, they hire on Winston Zeddmore (Hudson) to help take the load off...but all the while, more and more ghosts are showing up.

Monsters wind up possessing Dana and her hapless, lovestruck neighbor (Moranis), to pave the way for Gozer, a Sumerian god. Meanwhile, a dickless (look, that's what I heard) EPA agent (Atheron) shuts down the system holding all the ghosts they've captured, and, as Moranis-possessed-by-Vince-Glortho says, "all prisoners will be released."

The movie is incredibly tight. The score is amazing, the background business (watch the maid in the hotel try and put out the burning TP with her spray bottle), the performances (Murray as the cheerfully sleezy Venkman, sure, but my favorite is probably Ackroyd as the constantly earnest and competent Stanz) are all top-notch. The effects have, for the most part, held up really well (some of the shots of the dog-frogs are a little weak).

A couple of problematic elements, mostly from Venkman. We had to make it clear to the kids watching that, no, going into a woman's home when she's invited you there on a professional level, making yourself comfy on her couch, and then telling her you're in love with her is actually really creepy and not endearing at all. The 80s were a different time. (On a related note, upon seeing Gozer, Teagan asked, "Why is she covered in bubbles?" Well, honey, there's this stuff called "cocaine...").

Venkman does, of course, stand up to save the world with the rest of them, so that's nice. I have a hard time seeing what Dana sees in him, other than he's funny, especially since in their first meeting she seriously looks like she's about to punch him in the throat (good acting from Weaver, who we know is capable of kicking ass). I remarked that if this movie were made now, I don't think Venkman would come out as rosy, and I think Stanz, as the good-hearted geek, would probably get the girl. The fact that anyone "gets the girl" has its own issues, of course, but I think there's been some progress.

Anyway, analysis aside, Ghostbusters holds up amazingly well considering it's almost 30 (jeezus).

My grade: A
Rewatch value: High

Next up: Ghostbusters II