In no way should convoluted and confusing sci-fi work with improvised and fresh comedy, Ghostbusters forces them together to create an experience that will create nostalgia for generations still to come.
I must admit, I was hesitant to re-watch Ghostbusters. I wasn’t worried about enjoying the classic, but I simply didn’t want to test my nostalgia. When I first watched the sci-fi comedy, I was but a young and impressionable mind with very little knowledge on the intricacies of film, armed only with a child’s curiosity and a susceptibility to awe. I sat on my beige-carpeted living room floor, my eyes wide open as I stared at the cathode-lit television, the orange and blue streams etching themselves into my brain. In other words, I’m biased. I love Ghostbusters and while taking a trip down memory lane might seem scary at first, it quickly proves that it is well worth the risk.
Professors at Columbia University, Dr Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), and Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) study the paranormal and, after sighting their first apparition at the Public Library, they are kicked out onto the streets with nothing but a purpose: to form the ‘Ghostbusters’. Together, the trio investigate sightings and ‘quietly’ capture any ghouls causing trouble, rising to fame as spooky sightings seem to be increasing. On paper, the three friends seem to each be several screws short of a toolbox, but whether they have enough charisma to sell it, or I’m just too influenced to believe otherwise, I’m buying all of it.
They are quirky and goofy, but above all, they are loveable. Venkman is sleezy and fills the role of ‘Charismatic Creep’, a group archetype that may revolt yet is unarguably needed (think Jay from The Inbetweeners); Ray is forever optimistic and is ready to put everything on the line for the sake of the cause; Spengler is the intelligent but socially inept brains behind the operation. It is hard to pick a defining moment for each of them (as there are many), but one does come to mind. After cornering the iconic Slimer in the Ball Room during their inaugural outing as professional busters, the trio finally feel like heroes. Yes, they may seem to have gotten lucky as they bumble their way into the ectoplasm-filled world, but each fill the screen with their own wit, charm, and personality.
Although Dana (Sigourney Weaver) is their first client, it takes some time to move away from the team’s day-to-day victories and back to the ever-looming plot. Now a quartet after the late edition of Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson), the Ghostbusters are forced to re-release all their hard work back into the city by the stereotypically ignorant and villainous government official while Dana is possessed by Zuul, an evil demigod attempting to bring back their master and with them, the destruction of the world.
The film is messy. With so much back and forth between scientific and mystical narratives, it is easy to get lost amongst the growing cast, but it doesn’t matter. Clear and concise was never an option once stepping onto the rollercoaster of bad special effects and spontaneous characters; it is easier to live in the present and not worry about anything else than discern whatever science-sounding words are currently being spouted. All that matters is they are the heroes and I want them to win.
What truly marks Ghostbusters as one of my favourite films is the number of quotable moments that never seem to end. These aren’t the memorable, long, and beautiful speeches that spark empathy or courage, but quick-witted writing meeting improve comedy in the middle for a hilarious marriage. These aren’t single lines that standout amongst the rest of the film, but entire scenes that are quotable from start to finish; just take your pick. I felt like a kid again as I watched them convince the mayor of their legitimacy and battle the apparently harmless Mr. Stay-Puft, and isn’t that what film is all about?
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