Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures
I apologize for dumping a whole bunch of reviews on you guys these past two days. My personal life has been a bit of a crazy party but after this dump, I should be back on track to post. I am going to post three more reviews today. All of them will be the Ghostbusters films because you can’t review the second one and the all-female one without revisiting the one that started it all. So, again, my apologies but I have already seen Ghostbusters. But, like I said, you can’t review two of them without reviewing the first one.
So without further ado, here is my review of the 1984 Ghostbusters film that started it all.
I watched this film about three or four years ago for the first time. I was working and the woman I was working for had this on in the background and I was immediately intrigued. The film tells the story of three friends Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis), and Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) as they team up to exterminate the specters and the ghosts haunting New York. Their business explodes and they become media celebrities right about the time an ancient evil starts manifesting itself in Dana Barrett’s (Sigourney Weaver) apartment. What follows is a hilarious attempt to free Dana (and New York) from the clutches of evil and the ghosts who’ve made New York their home. Oh, and there’s a specter named Slimer who was written in honor of Aykroyd’s late friend John Belushi.
As a whole, the cheesy special effects that most 80s films boast actually make this film even better if that was possible. It’s a film that holds up in every other aspect but the special effects and that’s saying something compared to other 80s films (cough Footloose cough). In fact, the special effects make the film more fun which is great because the content of the script drowns out a character problem that I didn’t notice until I was rewatching it today.
To put it simply: Peter Venkman is a sexist pig who only cares about himself and his penis. There, I said it. Nothing against Murray who is sweet as molasses but, dang. Every time Venkman showed up on the scene, I just wanted to turn the movie off. The worst thing was that Dana actually fell for his aggressive campaign to attempt to get in her pants. She resisted for a while but after all was said and done and she became a damsel in distress, they ended up sharing a kiss that absolutely disgusted me. His only saving grace is that he didn’t attempt to take her when she was possessed by Zuul. But, honestly, that was the only good thing about Venkman.
As always Aykroyd is affable and a tin foil hat enthusiast. Stantz echoes another one of his roles that I’m familiar with in the caper film Sneakers. Perhaps that’s what makes Aykroyd so lovable. He just plays the same roles over and over again. Not that I mind. It’s always so much fun listening to Aykroyd spout off scientific jargon intermingled with conspiracy theories. It’s loads of fun and he adds a comedic levity that really grounds and lights this film up. His relationship with Winston Zeddmore (Ernie Hudson) is something really special and interesting. I’m intrigued to see how their partnership blossoms in Ghostbusters 2.
Perhaps the best character between the four of them is the brilliant Spengler. Where Aykroyd revels in playing his kooky and crazy usual character with comedy and intelligence that is in your face, Ramis is a lot more subtle. I’m not saying that his intelligence is subtle because it isn’t. He’s clearly supposed the smarter one in the quartet. He’s droll and sometimes almost Ben Stein-esque but that certainly adds to his character and his humor. Not to mention that he’s the better looking of the four. There’s something about those thick, black-framed glasses and all his intelligent jargon. It elevates the script from pure slapstick hilarity.
It’s a pity that they only tapped Sigourney Weaver because she’s beautiful. I would’ve loved Dana to have a bit more substance. Instead, she was, as stated earlier, a damsel in distress. It’s a far cry from her Ellen Ripley days just a few years earlier. Weaver is a kick-ass actress and to see her play this character is just a sad downgrade from what she’s capable of. I’m hoping it’ll get better in Ghostbusters 2 but, to be honest, I’m not holding my breath.
Taken at face value, Ghostbusters is a fun romp of a film with a cast of characters who have a lot of fun blowing stuff up in the name of science. Sure, the special effects are pretty rubbish and don’t hold up to today’s standards, but, if anything, it adds to the fun. And, like I said, all this fun detracts from the large, sexist elephant in the room who takes the form of Peter Venkman.