Saturday 24 March 2012

Movie Review: Ghostbusters (1984)

The irreverent comedy of the 1980s, Ghostbusters celebrates its lack of meaning and amps up the nonsense. With Bill Murray cresting his narcissistically-jaded-to-the-point-of-barely-conscious persona, the film is a bombastic romp through urban absurdity.

New York parapsychologist Professor Peter Venkman (Murray) has the sketchiest of credentials, and spends his campus time performing shallow experiments as a guise to lust after attractive blond students. Summarily fired, he teams up with two fellow paranormal academics Dr. Raymond Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) and Dr. Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) to create Ghostbusters, a squad to capture troublesome spirits on the loose.

Venkman: Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together - mass hysteria.

Just in time: a building along Central Park is the designated gateway for the return of the demonic spirit Zuul and the god of destruction Gozer, and the advance party consists of all forms of mischievous ghosts causing havoc throughout the city, providing the Ghostbusters with brisk business and celebrity status.

Venkman: We came, we saw, we kicked its ASS!

Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) lives in the building and, upon seeing spirits in her fridge, becomes a Ghostbusters client. Venkman is initially more interested in bedding Dana than helping her, but when both she and her tweedy neighbour Louis (Rick Moranis) are possessed to prepare for Gozer's return, the Ghostbusters have a real fight on their hands to save the city from rampaging spirits.

Venkman: Let's show this prehistoric bitch how we do things downtown.

With special effects that appear campy even for the mid 1980s, Ghostbusters distances itself from any accusation of trying to be serious. Director Ivan Reitman just allows Murray to do his thing, the droopy eye-lids and expressionless face not concealing a brain overheating to find the next low key ironic comment on the unfolding carnage. Aykroyd and Ramis wrote the script, and park themselves deferentially to the side or behind Murray's antics.

Venkman: We've been going about this all wrong, this Mr. Stay Puft's okay, he's a sailor, he's in New York, we get this guy laid we won't have any trouble.

Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis get into the swing and provide utterly cartoonish support. Weaver plays her possessed role with undisguised relish, Reitman making the most of the air blower, Weaver's wild hair and flowing red, and slit-up-to-there, dress to create a lasting image.

Venkman: Nobody steps on a church in my town!

Ghostbusters celebrates a resurgent New York City, the only place where the sudden appearance of an army of ghosts is not that surprising, and a city that seeks and craves heroes, the wackier the better.

Venkman, upon seeing Dana turn into Demon: ...OK, so?..she's a dog...

The commercial success of the film was further boosted by the runaway hit theme song, Ghostbusters by Ray Parker Jr. exploding as a global anthem, Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters! and I ain't afraid of no ghost! becoming all-time pop culture touchstones, despite not even being part of the movie's script.

Ghostbusters strikes a major chord of cool fun, a dizzy comedy packed with an energetic and positive spirit.

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.

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