For some reason Ghost Busters (1984) was never a real formative film for me, despite some of my absolute favourites coming from that era. I am sure I had seen the film on TV years ago, but I only had pretty vague recollections of it, making this viewing almost like seeing it for the first time.
It’s weird that whilst the 80s was a pretty dire time for some other art forms (I’m looking at you music), it was a great time for film, especially popular film. Ghost Busters is a definite part of that. This New York set film sees three academic scientists who are kicked off campus go into the ghost hunting business. Lucky for them, that is a field of work that happens to be in high demand at the time. Much of the humour in the early parts of the film comes from the sheer lack of experience or knowledge that our heroes have about what the hell they should do when they happen upon a ghost. This makes their early experiments in ‘ghostbusting’ hilariously fraught. But luckily for the folk of New York, they are also generally successful in these endeavours. Especially as the supernatural goings-on really ramp up, culminating in a Stay Puft Marshmallow Man Godzilla sized beast rampaging through the streets. As will happen. The supernatural happenings are driven by what I assume were some pretty impressive for the time special effects that by and large have aged relatively well. There are some definite exceptions to this rule, but the effects are there to only enhance the other aspects of the film, they are not the focus of the film itself. A lesson there for many a filmmaker I think.
The two major strengths of the film are the sharp comedy of the script and the fantastic cast. Two of the stars of the film, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis were also on writing duties. What they turned in was a wryly comedic gem that will have you chuckling throughout, without feeling like you are being beaten over the head with an endless bombardment of jokes. Another major credit to the script is that it actually gets stronger as the film goes on, with many of the funnier lines coming toward the end of the film. If you really wanted to quibble, there is a plot diversion and character or two that are underdeveloped, but in reality it is highly doubtful you will notice. Plus, as with any high quality film of this ilk, there are a bunch of really quotable lines peppered throughout. Most of them are delivered by Bill Murray, such as the classics “he slimed me” and “cats and dogs living together”. Murray is definitely the star in terms of screen time and his performance is really good too. He is able to comfortably nail both wry, dry humour as well as the odd bit of silliness. He is really well supported by basically everyone else as in the film, with my personal favourites here being Rick Moranis and Sigourney Weaver. Moranis especially creates a really full and fun character in his short time onscreen. Man I love that guy, watching this film brought back plenty of memories of a film that definitely was a formative one for me, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989).
In the end, Ghost Busters is just about as fun as a film can hope to be, managing to mix elements of comedy, horror and fantasy all together to come up with something highly original. I can definitely see why this is an absolute favourite of many and a really formative film for a lot of huge film fans.
Verdict: Pint of Kilkenny
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