I was Egon Spangler for Halloween on multiple occasions. I owned pretty much every single Ghostbusters action figure ever made. I religiously watched the Slimer-centric Ghostbusters cartoon all throughout my childhood. So perhaps I’m not the most objective person to review the original Ghostbusters film. The movie is inextricably tied to my childhood. The nostalgia involved for me is impossible to remove from a review of Ghostbusters, so I won’t even try. That being said, Ghostbusters is a great film, an important film, and one that time has failed to erode.
Written by Harold Ramis and Dan Aykroyd, directed by Ivan Reitman, Ghostbusters combined comedy and action in a way rarely seen before its release. In a way, it was one of the first true summer blockbusters. While the special effects don’t look like much these days, they were groundbreaking back in 1984 when the film was released. Harold Ramis, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray and Ernie Hudson starred as the quartet of parapsychology charlatans turned ghostbusting celebrities, who eventually face off with the skyscraper-sized Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Sigourney Weaver (Murray’s love interest) and Rick Moranis (Weaver’s nerdy accountant neighbor) are also on hand, eventually possessed and acting as the Gatekeeper and Keymaster for Gozer, the evil god coming down to wreak havoc in New York City.
Ghostbusters is a comedic milestone, an iconic film that succeeded on all levels, despite a premise that would be laughable if not for the geniuses behind its creation. Bill Murray cemented himself as a comedy god and bankable star with Ghostbusters (the film grossed $230 million in the U.S. alone). The film is endlessly quotable, though it never gets silly or broad enough to take the audience away from the plot, which could’ve worked simply as a straightforward sci-fi story. The outlandish story is played matter-of-factly, and the actors never wink at the camera or give the audience the impression that they aren’t fully committed to the film.
Ghostbusters is the kind of film, now over 20 years old, that is untouchable. It’s near impossible to find a filmgoer who doesn’t actively love the film, or at the very least admit that it’s enjoyable. Ghostbusters can’t be hated, and always provides the goods, even on multiple viewings. It’s also fun to see three comedy legends (Murray, Ramis and Aykroyd) in their primes, bringing their own unique sensibilities to the proceedings. Aykroyd, though he more or less plays the straight man in the film, never connected more in a film role, which is something of a shame. He was the anchor of those early years of Saturday Night Live, a comedic chameleon. Unfortunately, he never really connected with film audiences in any significant way after Ghostbusters.
Was there any doubt that I’d give this film 5 stars? I have to. My mother still tells stories of how, in my pre-school years, I was Egon Spangler for weeks at a time, wearing the glasses to breakfast and demanding that my hair got the Egon treatment. It just wouldn’t be right for me to criticize Ghostbusters.
-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image courtesy of Columbia)