Director: Ivan Reitman
Written by: Harold Ramis, Dan Aykroyd, Peter Torokvei
Starring: Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Harold Ramis, Rick Moranis, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts, William Atherton and more
What makes Ghostbusters such a wonderful iconic genre film? For one thing, it’s genuinely funny. Ghostbusters is a nearly relentless barrage of comedic potshots designed to make us giggle, or at least smile before it lands another in a long series of haymakers that that make us laugh out loud. Its comedy in every sense of the word and even the low stuff works here. In addition to the verbal wit, there’s outright juvenile slapstick combined with, once it gets going, the sort of wanton destruction that’s pretty much guaranteed to get a laugh for the sheer scale of it, and the absurdity of the situations that causes it to occur.
Ghostbusters is a unique blend of ingredients, the supernatural couched in a comedic context seemed pretty fresh and new at the time. Although in reality, it was a throwback to the old Abbot and Costello comedies that harvested laughs from the frightening adventures of the classic vaudeville duo and other films of that sort from the past glory days of black and white cinema.
The film is so well cast it all but erases the possibility of anyone else in what have become these iconic roles. Ghostbusters is Bill Muray’s film as he glibly delivers improvised dialogue in his deadpan style as only he can. Murry is top banana in this, but everyone contributes to pushing this movie past good into being great. Other individual noteworthy performances include Annie Potts as the bored and mostly imperturbable Janine Melnitz and Rick Moranis as the completely-lacking-in-confidence-desperate-to-impress- and-fit-in nerd accountant Louis Tully. Moranis’ performance in this film is brilliant. Also, the cooly confident Dana Baret played by Sigourney Weaver is suitably low scale as another of Murray’s Peter Venkman’s potential conquests until she explodes into the sexually charged Gatekeeper, one of the central figures that is part of an ancient Babylonian supernatural plot to take over the city.
Another part of what made Ghostbusters so great was its timing, which as everyone knows is always essential to successful comedy. This film is an anthropological and archeological time capsule so full of eighties zeitgeist portrayed within the context of New York City and the film’s depiction of life there at the time it belongs in the Smithsonian.
Ghostbusters with a great cast and all the rest was also partially the result of pure dumb luck like so many other films that have become part of the lexicon of pop culture. Luck in the form of all the different elements coming together in the same place at the right time. Ghostbusters is an example of great art that sometimes takes on a life of its own and becoming something marvelous we can continue to enjoy that is greater than the sum of its parts. Happy Halloween!