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Ghostbusters
1984 - PG for mild peril - 107 Mins.
Director: Ivan Reitman
Producer: Ivan Reitman
Written By: Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis and Rick Moranis (uncredited)
Starring: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Sigourney Weaver, Rick Moranis, Ernie Hudson
Review by: John Ulmer
   
I have a small posse of favorite comedians. Somewhere towards the top of that list, along with Steve Martin, is Bill Murray. He's been around since the early 80s, getting his start on NBC's "Saturday Night Live" after Chevy Chase left for his own career in Hollywood. Murray worked live for a few years before -- like those prior to him him -- gradually making his way into the film world.

I like all of the comedians in "Ghostbusters," come to think of it. Dan Aykroyd is another great subtle comedian, with a great knack for writing as well as acting. It was Aykroyd, after all, who is primarily responsible for "The Blues Brothers." And Harold Ramis, who later became a director, with an impressive resume of such films as "Vacation," "Groundhog Day," and "Analyze This."

Then there's also Rick Moranis, a meek nerd character who is very underrated and very funny, a sort of Woody Allen Lite. He was Dark Helmet in "Spaceballs," Barney Coopersmith in "My Blue Heaven," and that wacky inventor in "Honey I Shrunk the Kids."

Yes, one could say that "Ghostbusters" is built on a firm base, scripted by Aykroyd, Ramis and Moranis (who is uncredited) and directed by Ivan Reitman ("Kindergarten Cop"). It's a clever little story with a simple premise and lots of laughs -- a band of failing friends unite to make a hoax ghost-busting company, but soon real ghosts do show up and they're in over their heads.

It starts in New York City. Peter Venkman (Murray), Raymond Stanz (Aykroyd), and Egon Spengler (Ramis) are three Columbia University scientists laid off after their grant expires with no results from the trio in return. Down to nothing, they cook up the brilliant (or crazy) idea to create a "ghost-busting" company.

But they immediately realize that it won't be as easy as it seems to get a little extra cash, because Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) comes to the men looking for help. Her apartment is infested with strange happenings, and her next-door neighbor, Louis Tully (Rick Moranis), is having problems of his own.

They pretend to solve the situation and the men suddenly become a citywide phenomenon, attracting media attention and constant customers at their front door. They become so popular, in fact, that they are joined by Winston Zeddmore (Ernie Hudson), another down-on-his-luck city guy looking for a good-paying job.

However, Walter Peck, EPA (William Atherton) doesn't believe that the Ghostbusters are really ridding any ghosts at all, so he has them thrown in jail. But an ethreal baddie named Gozer (Slavitza Jovan) soon appears in Dana's apartment complex, and weird happenings occur, forcing Peck to free the Ghostbusters once and for all so that they can bust the ghost and send it back to where it came from.

Sounds corny, huh? It's meant to be. Everything about this movie is campy and goofy, and that is exactly what Ramis, Aykroyd and Moranis wanted when they collaborated. And it is very funny.

I don't know, there's something in me that loves "Saturday Night Live" humor. Sure, the show has its dry spots, but I love it. Many people I know don't find it all that funny, and not as consistent as something such as "The Simpsons," but I love to watch it, I love the humor, and I love the actors.

Part of that love, I suppose, is what makes me enjoy "Ghostbusters" (1984) so much. However, believe it or not, "Ghostbusters" is not quite as laugh-out-loud funny as you might expect. It is very funny, but it isn't always a howler. It's more of an intelligent comedy, which is odd, since it is made by a band of guys from "Saturday Night Live" and such backgrounds.

Murray steals every scene he is in. This, along with “Groundhog Day,” is the perfect vehicle for his comedic talents, ranging from the constant wise cracks to the constant dry ironic humor that I love so much. They key to his humor is not that he comes up with it, but the way he does it. Any comedian can use the blank glares, but the way he expressionlessly glares at fellow actors is a joke in itself. When Stanz admits that his one fear has always been the Stay Puff’d man, check out Murray’s face. This is classic stuff.

As much a scene-stealer as Murray may be, he is nearly upstaged by Aykroyd and Ramis, who both provide a sort of counter-balance of lunatics and reason to Murray’s flippant characteristics. The scene that everyone remembers it the finale involving the giant marshmallow Stay Puff'd Man, and whenever I think of Aykroyd's performance in this film, I think of that scene.

"Ghostbusters" is a very famous comedy, and for good reason. It's light, good-hearted, funny, and actually pretty intelligent, built upon a firm cast and script, which -- considering the majority of the actors' and writers' backgrounds of "Saturday Night Live" -- is almost as surprising as the film itself.
 
Movie Guru Rating
A masterpiece.  An Essential film.  A classic. A masterpiece.  An Essential film.  A classic. A masterpiece.  An Essential film.  A classic. A masterpiece.  An Essential film.  A classic. A masterpiece.  An Essential film.  A classic.
  5 out of 5 stars

 
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