Directed by: Ivan Reitman Runtime: 1 hr. 45 mins. Rated: PG
Studio: Columbia Pictures Screenwriters: Harold Ramis, Dan Aykroyd
Cast: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Harold Ramis, Rick Moranis, Annie Potts, Sigourney Weaver
There’s no denying when a film’s following endures over the decades, someone did something right. When someone utters the term ‘movie magic,’ you can look to such a film as an example of what that means. Almost four decades after the release of the first film, Ghostbusters is such a movie.
A supernatural film caters to a particular group of movie-goers, which can make money, sure. What made Ghostbusters such a hit was the notion of the supernatural being blended with comedy. Yet not in an offbeat or cheesy manner. This melding of genres, first and foremost, as successful as it was, is because of excellent story crafting.
I’m a proponent that every film project begins and ends with the story. How well a script is executed in cinema (or television) is the foundation to success. Yes, many other factors can ruin a project, but it starts with the story. Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis birthed the idea of Ghostbusters to the page, and Ivan Reitman ran with it. It was a perfect melding of story and vision coming together.
Simply put, Ghostbusters is about a group of scientists that go into business for themselves who are the animal catchers of the supernatural. For a price. Some jobs are easy, some are more involved, but when the world’s fate is at stake (with New York City as the epicenter), who ya gonna call?
Part of the magic of this film is the technical jargon and gadgets used. It doesn’t matter if it makes sense or if scientifically, it’s easily debunked. The way those attributes are utilized makes it seem believable and seamless into the world they belong to. That’s not an easy thing to do, let alone want to watch in a more critical world of films today. That’s as adults. As a child sees it, who wouldn’t want a proton pack?
The stunts, special effects, and cinematography are all other components that add to the movie magic within Ghostbusters. Creating the proton streams, Slimer, any of the spooks and specters, and a hundred plus tall marshmallow man add to the story and magic. Crafting the right camera shots and angles really help sell the tone of the film. From wide-angle shots of the city to the close-ups of characters’ reactions to the action, it all works together.
Ghostbusters is one of those films that is gifted with a memorable musical score, and as a bonus, it has a theme song. I play some of this film’s music on my front porch every Halloween with other music because it’s just so fitting.
For a movie that is close to four decades old, it’s still funny. Most films will show their age over time with the character’s lines/references, but Ghostbusters doesn’t really suffer from that. The worst that can be said is that it highlights the styles of 1980s America.
The most significant component is cast chemistry. When the casting for each role is bang on, it’s fantastic. When the entire cast meshes well and feeds off of one another’s performances, the project is all the better for it. Winston (Hudson) and Egon’s (Ramis) presence and humor balance out Ray (Aykroyd) and Peter’s (Murray) more eccentric personality attributes. To that end, you have polar opposites in Dana (Weaver) and Janine’s (Potts) characters, but they still have a place that belongs in the film. Even though he’s the odd man out, Louis (Moranis) is this endearing, naive neighbor that gets caught up in the action and adds to the comedy.
Ghostbusters is a movie that shouldn’t be taken too seriously. It’s meant to be a fun sci-fi/comedy that you enjoy with popcorn that happens to be a well-constructed story with great acting. It absolutely is worth a place on your watchlist! Enjoy.
—a pen lady