Summer Movie Showdown: "Ghostbusters" Review

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Ghosts invade New York and force a trio of spirit exterminators to save the city in one of the biggest comedies of all time. Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd & Sigourney Weaver head the all-star cast.
3.5

Summer Movie Showdown: "Ghostbusters" Review

-- Rating: PG
Length: 105 min
Release date: June 8, 1984
Directed by: Ivan Reitman
Genre: Comedy/Family/Fantasy

Considered by fans to be one of the greatest movies of the 80s and one of the funniest movies of all time, "Ghostbusters" is a true classic that is still enjoying its popular status. It's unsurprising that "Ghostbusters" has yet to fade away like most movies its age. Thanks to its engaging storyline, popular actors, and clever laughs, "Ghostbusters" is still relevant to today's audiences despite being nearly three decades old.

While "Ghostbusters" was written by both Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, the film is really the brainchild of Dan Aykroyd, whose fascination with paranormal activity drove him to write a story about a team of ghost hunters who traveled through other dimensions, space, and time to track down and destroy malicious spirits. These original ghosts were massive, and the infamous Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man was only one of many. However, when Aykroyd pitched his idea to Ivan Reitman, an accomplished director and producer, Reitman warned Aykroyd that his ideas were financially impossible.

Aykroyd was originally hesitant to overhaul his story, but he had already decided "Ghostbusters" would be a vehicle for both himself and his good friend John Belushi. Because he wanted Belushi to star in his film, Aykroyd finally agreed to overhaul the film. Aykroyd and fellow screenwriter Harold Ramis spent three weeks finalizing the screenplay in a bomb shelter in Martha's Vineyard. Unfortunately, while Aykroyd and Ramis had written the lead character with John Belushi in mind, Belushi died before the screenplay was even finished. Aykroyd and Ramis made several changes to the screenplay and brought in Bill Murray to play the lead role that would have been played by John Belushi. In honor of Belushi, Murray improvised a significant portion of his performance as Peter Venkman, which is part of the reason "Ghostbusters" became so popular.

Even though nearly half of the special effects for the ghosts were still missing during the test screening due to time constraints, the audience was still so enthusiastic that the production team went the extra mile and spent above the budget to ensure the ghosts were as polished as possible. Thanks to the efforts of the production team, the special effects used in "Ghostbusters" are still good even by today's standards.

Bill Murray's performance as Peter Venkman is still considered one of his greatest accomplishments. Aykroyd and Ramis star alongside Murray as a trio of paranormal exterminators known as the Ghostbusters. The Ghostbusters, whose funds are dwindling, are operating out of a run-down former firehouse when Sedgewick Hotel hires them to exterminate a ghost that is haunting the building. After catching their first ghost, the Ghostbusters skyrocket to celebrity status as their reputation spreads. The team is called on over and over to keep New York City's increasing paranormal activity under control. Exhausted by their schedule, the Ghostbusters hire Winston Zeddemore, played by Ernie Hudson, to help them keep up with their clients' demand.

Eventually, the Ghostbusters are hired by Dana Barrett, a professional musician whose New York City apartment is being haunted by two particularly malevolent spirits. Venkman, who considers himself in competition with Dana's neighbor for her affections, takes a special interest in the haunting and insists the Ghostbusters investigate in spite of the danger. During the investigation, both Dana and her neighbor, Louis Tully, are possessed by the two evil spirits, who call themselves the Gatekeeper and the Keymaster. The two demons boast of the destructive Gozer's coming and show no signs of leaving their hosts' bodies anytime soon. Realizing the city is in real danger now, the Ghostbusters decide to keep the evil spirits apart while they devise a plan to free Louis and Dana.

A wrench is thrown into the Ghostbusters' plan when the Environmental Protection Act has them arrested for having an illegal nuclear device and forces them to deactivate their ghost containment grid. The hundreds of ghosts the Ghostbusters have captured are unleashed and begin to wreak havoc on New York City while the Gatekeeper and Keymaster reunite at Dana's apartment, which turns out to house a gateway designed to summon Gozer and bring about the apocalypse. The Ghostbusters are finally released from custody so that they can attempt to save the world before it's too late.

Throughout the story, the characters evolve from a bumbling group of misfit ghost hunters to a team of heroes with the fate of the world in their hands. The storytelling abilities of Aykroyd and Ramis shine through thanks to director Reitman's penchant for making sure the character development is obvious. Unfortunately, while "Ghostbusters" was a cult classic in its time, it does feel a little dated when you watch it in a modern setting. Some of the scenes are overdone, which can be distracting from the film's surprising amount of serious drama, but that is to be expected from an 80's film. All in all, "Ghostbusters" is a fantastic film, but whether or not it will truly stand the test of time remains to be seen.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5