Ghostbusters (1984) … Remembered

Ecto-1 I think Ghostbusters has a lot of good things going for it, not the  least of which is its comedy and likeable characters.  During the opening scene, Peter Venkman played by Bill Murray, does a faux-science investigation into psychic phenomena to great comedic effect.  I really enjoyed that scene.  It was the kind of scene involving a laughably implausible scenario that is just everywhere in this movie and it is hilarious. Peter tries to convince a hot blonde that she has psychic powers at the expense of a dweeb, by perpetually schmoozing her about her “gifts”, when the audience really knows just what kind of gifts Peter wants.  So to speak.

Even though Bill Murray’s character really is a sleezeball and not very nice, he seems to be very supportive of his friends and a bit of an anti-hero.  “You are a poor scientist Dr. Venkman,” the uppity Dean of Students says while kicking the Ghostbusters out of their University-funded office, but Peter isn’t phased by this.   The scenes following this moment are where Peter hooks the audience with his likeability and is an outgoing entrepreneur like we all wish we could be.  He has so many good one-liners throughout the movie, his charm is undeniable.  He doesn’t whine or complain and shows his cool at every opportunity, especially in the face of the uppity businessman and slimey restaurant owners.  Nothing gets this guy down. 

Ghostbusters also has this mystery or threatening edge to it that moves it forward at a good pace.  Peter and the team have to investigate ghost sightings and help Dana, played by Sigourney Weaver, which is in itself, a good story.  I actually can’t name a character in the story that I didn’t think was well-done.  Usually a movie has that one character I just can’t stand or I roll my eyes at.  Ghostbusters doesn’t have that, despite some of the most of the over-the-top dialogue I’ve ever heard, like that from Louis Tully played by Rick Moranis.  His dialogue is just funny enough to make him likeable though.

I think most of the criticism about Ghostbusters stems from the fact that its characters, possibly the best thing about it, are merely caricatures of real people.  I mean, real people grow, develop, and have meaningful conversations with others instead of spouting an endless string of witty one-liners.  I wish I was that funny.  Considering the stereotypes or caricatures, I think Peter is the sleezeball anti-hero, Egon is the overly nerdy science guy, Ray is the pudgy friend, Winston is the hard-working blue collar guy, and Dana is the strong female Sigourney Weaver has played in almost every other movie she’s been in.   The set-pieces and situations that these characters get put into are classically funny in that over-the-top way.  The money put into this movie really shows the quality, like a 100 foot marshmallow man trying to kill you and floating ghosts out to terrorize people.

Ghostbusters has a 96 percent fresh rating at rottentomatoes.com and I was surprised that even Roger Ebert gave Ghostbusters a positive review.  Ebert said Ghostbusters provided so many witty one-liners that many of them have become part of the lexicon of comedy.  It may be that Ghostbusters will stay as a well-known part of American culture, much like the scenes and lines from Star Wars, although I’m not too sure about that.  It sure is on television enough though.   The only negative review comes from the king of negative nancys, The New York Times.  Published in 1984 when the movie premiered, writer Janet Maslin of New York Nancy had many negative things to say about the film, including criticizing Annie Potts’ secretary character for having “nothing to do” and saying there were more special effects than moments of laughter.  Although I somewhat agree with her about Potts’ involvement, I disagree with her other points in her 1984 article found here.

I’m thinking that many other people remember Ghostbusters fondly, like I do.  What do you remember about it?  At its least, GHOSTBUSTERS from 1984 is just a witty one-liner competing against a jumbled show of special effects, but at its most (and very best), it is an American classic that will be perpetually shown on television for the next twenty years.

Stay glued to this space for more “…Remembered” looks back at movies.  Thanks for reading.

Funny Note:

What are the most memorable lines from this movie you’ve repeated to your friends?

“Back off Man, I’m a scientist.”

“…when someone asks you if you’re a god you say YES.”

“Listen…do you smell something?”

“That’s a big twinkie.”

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