30 years ago there was a good looking film coming out starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Harold Ramis, and Rick Moranis. It was directed by the same man who directed the popular comedies “Meatballs” and “Stripes” and featured one of the catchiest theme songs in recent memory. I think it’s fair to say many were not expecting to achieve the success it had when it was released. It was a film that exploded at the box office and was a movie that many people ended growing up with; I know I did and I wasn’t born anywhere near when it was first released into theaters. It has become a classic film without a shred of doubt. Now being re-released backed into theaters for just one week only I knew I had to take advantage of it. After 30 years does the film still hold up on the big screen? Absolutely it does! Sure the special effects can’t compare to the effects of today but in its time it was some of the best around. With a top notch cast and a well balanced script with laughs and thrills, “Ghostbusters” is still a movie I would call on for a great and fun experience.
“Ghostbusters” follows three scientists that investigate paranormal activities in the New York area. Just getting thrown out of the University that funded them the three of them decide to go into business for themselves to investigate and capture ghosts for anyone who has a “spooky problem.” Soon though the group finds themselves battling more and more paranormal threats to only realize that judgment day could be on the horizon and they could be the only ones to stop it.
Where this film succeeds the most is it’s script. Everything is set to a pitch perfect pace. The characters get introduced in their own unique way and establishes their personalities and relationship with one another. We have Dr. Peter Venkman played by the deadpanned humor of Bill Murray. He steals the show through most of the film and gives the movie an edge and energy that would be hard to replicate without him. Then there is Dr. Raymond Stantz played by Dan Aykroyd when he was still a star and a name. The late great Harold Ramis plays the ultra serious Dr. Egon Spengler. Everyone has a favorite of the characters and each one gets proper screen time and introduction.
The supporting cast of characters include Sigourney Weaver as Dana Barrett. The women that Venkman is determined to get, is a strong female character that has several character twists throughout the film. The next one is Rick Moranis, someone who seemed to almost drop off the face of the planet recently. Moranis is vintage Moranis with his quick wit and long lines of dialogue delivery, Moranis fits right in with the rest of the cast as a worthy and funny addition.
The only flaw there is with the script (which is something I even noticed as a kid) is the 4th Ghostbuster, Winston Zeddmore played by Ernie Hudson. Hudson does a fine job with the material and comes in at the right moment of the story, but his character feels underutilized. Originally he was suppose to have a bigger role and to be played by Eddie Murphy (which would have changed the direction of the movie), the script was rewritten when he declined. Hudson is just sort of there, has a couple of good lines but never really felt like he was truly part of the team.
Yet as well told as the story is, which is thanks in large part to the final script that was written, the comedy and it’s comedic timing has virtually nothing to do with the script but instead the performers themselves. It’s been stated by the cast and crew that a lot of the dialogue ad-libs. Bill Murray’s dialogue was almost entirely his. Even in the opening library scene when the bookcase falls over behind the group as they investigated, was not in the script and it just fell on its own accord and Murray just ad-lib the line, “Has this ever happened to you before?” The entire sequence was kept in the film and is just a few among the many examples of ad-libing in this film.
Whether or not the lines were ad-libed or spoken from the printed page, this movie is funny. All of the cast members have at least one good line of comedic dialogue. It ranges from something that’ll give you a slight chuckle to gut busting laughter. This was the height of these performers in the 1980s and you’ll be hard pressed to find better comedic performances from some of the crew members than in this film.
The action sequences involving the capturing of ghosts are all thrilling. Each sequence is different and has its own cleverness and scale to them. Albeit the special effects are weak nowadays but you can’t simply compare them to today, it’s not a fair comparison. For it’s time the effects were top notch and brilliant. Each time the Ghostbusters go out onto a job it gets a little bit bigger than the last one, which goes along with the pitch perfect pacing of the film.
As for a 30th anniversary re-release it was solid. The theater I had did not present it in 4k, so I didn’t get to see the full update on the picture quality. It did look better than the DVD copy I have (could also be because it’s on a bigger screen) and I can’t wait to get my hands on the Blu-Ray copy. Yet if they did do any restoration on the audio it doesn’t show. I was hoping they would have beefed up the audio, like they did for the Blu-Ray release of “The Godfather Trilogy”.
Still it’s worth seeing any classic movie on the big screen because a movie going experience is never truly complete unless you see it on a massive screen with incredible pounding sound and overprice candy. I never got to experience “Ghostbusters” on the big screen like so many did 30 years ago, so it was quite a treat to see this classic that I grew up watching in an actual movie theater. The movie still holds up after all these years, with great comedic acting, a well written script, and a wonderful supporting cast. “Ghostbusters” has stood the test of time and will hopefully be continued to be seen and watched by generations to come.