Saturday, 30 March 2013

Ghostbusters



I haven’t seen Ghostbusters since the mid 1990s. I don’t know why this is as I remember liking it as a child, although Ghostbusters II scared me, and I also watched the cartoon The Real Ghostbusters when I was very young. If memory serves me right I also had some Ghostbusters toys. I don’t know then why it has taken me so long (over half my life!) to watch it again. I got the idea to re-watch it before a recent trip to New York as I was in the mood for New York based movies and it was recommended to me on Twitter. Unfortunately I didn’t have the time before I went but I saved it until today and wasn’t disappointed. It’s great fun!

Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Raymond Stantz (Dan Akyroyd) and Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) are three misfit scientists working out of Columbia University. When they lose their jobs due to a mixture of incompetence and lack of results they decide to set up shop as Ghostbusters, investigated the paranormal and catching ghosts for the people of New York City. They are initially successful and gain a reputation and celebrity status but something big on the horizon threatens to derail them and the entire city.

If I’d remembered how much fun Ghostbusters is then I wouldn’t have waited nearly twenty years to see it again. The dialogue is very funny and all three central cast members are great. Bill Murray’s arrogance, dry humour and deadpan delivery steal the show but he is flanked by Akroyd and Ramis (who co-wrote) and provide laughs of their own. In addition to the central three, a forth Ghostbuster joins the ranks in the form of Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson) and he delivers a lot of great lines too. Sigourney Weaver has a sizeable role and is excellent as always. She is especially good when possessed and also pretty saucy too. I’ve never really been into Sigourney but she looked pretty hot in this! A character that I remember more from the cartoon series is the Ghostbusters secretary Janine Melnitz (Annie Potts). She has some great wit and an awesome Brooklyn accent which I remember really well despite not seeing the film or cartoon since about 1995.

The story is fairly incidental but it rolls along at a decent pace. Basically the Ghostbusters battle against a couple of ghosts, then a busy body and finally a God. It doesn’t really matter what they’re doing though because it is the characters that you focus on. Something that impressed me was the special effects. The film is nearly thirty years old and although it had a sizeable budget, I wasn’t expecting much from the CGI or physical effects. In fact they hold up pretty well. They look dated of course but the ghost Slimer looks impressive and the giant Marshmallow Man looks good too and is surely a spoof of Godzilla. The demon dog things don’t hold up quite so well but they had a Ray Harryhausen-esque charm to them.

One of my favourite things about the movie and original reason for returning to it was for its New York locations. Regular readers will know of my New York obsession and I love to see the city on screen, especially the stone clad New York before it became dominated by glass and steel in the 1990s. Ghostbusters captures the city right on the cusp and includes shots of famous locations such as The New York Public Library, Manhattan Bridge, Central Park West, Lincoln Centre, Tavern on the Green, Columbia University as well as various street scenes. Perhaps most famous of all is Ghostbusters HQ, an actual Fire Station on North Moore Street in Tribeca which I accidentally found just a block from my hotel when I was in the city a couple of weeks ago. I found it on a jetlagged, early morning walk and bought my girlfriend back later that day to find about ten or fifteen people having their photos taken outside. This was about ten or fifteen more than outside a Taxi Driver location I was very happy to come across a few days later. The building has become iconic because of this film.

One of the most famous things about Ghostbusters is its theme song. I bet that even if you haven’t seen the movie in years, or ever, you’ll be able to sing a few bars of the iconic tune. It was written and performed by Ray Parker Jr and garnered one of the film’s two Oscar nominations, the other being for Visual Effects. The song reached Number 1 in the US as well as in four other countries and peaked at Number 2 here in the UK. It’s a brilliantly catchy song. When I took the DVD out of my machine to put it back in its box I was a little surprised to see a PG Rating. With swearing, ghosts and the line “I want you inside me” I was expecting at least a 12 Certificate. I think the film is a strong PG. A quick visit to the BBFC website tells me that they have in fact rated it as a 12A for mild sex references. If I had children I’d probably be happy to show the film to a ten year old but remembering back I watched it much younger than that.

In the end Ghostbusters is silly fun. It is full of great comedy and decent action and put a big smile on my face. I laughed out loud on several occasions and I’m going to have to pluck up the courage to see Ghostbusters II again now and hope that one is as daft, funny and exciting as this was.

8/10 

Titbits

  • The role of Peter Venkman was originally written for John Belushi and Winston was written for Eddie Murphy.
  • In the middle of the film's theatrical release, to keep interest up Ivan Reitman had a trailer run which was basically the advert used in the movie but with a real phone number. When rung, people got a recorded message from Murray and Akroyd. The number averaged 1,000 calls an hour, 24 hours a day for six weeks.
  • The Ghostbusters HQ set was remodelled and used as a set in The Mask.
  • Shaving foam was used for the marshmallow goo.     

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