“We came, we saw — we kicked its ass!”
A team of paranormal scientists (Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Harold Ramis) hire a secretary (Annie Potts) and open a business to help rid New York City of its ghosts. But when a beautiful client (Sigourney Weaver) and her nerdy neighbor (Rick Moranis) appear to be possessed by ancient spirits, the Ghost Busters — joined by a new employee (Ernie Hudson) — find their work suddenly much more urgent.
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that this “amusing diversion” which “somehow became one of the biggest box-office successes of all time” is as “zany and irreverent as expected and the special effects are a lot of fun”, but he argues that “the self-impressed dialogue seems forced and feeble”. He concedes that “Murray has a field day — he provides most of the wild hilarity”, but notes he wishes “audiences weren’t so easily charmed by his rude, childish, chauvanistic characters simply because they hint that they are only playacting”, and that he believes “this Murray character is really a jerk with whom we shouldn’t laugh”. Interestingly, while I find Murray insufferable most of the time, this is the one Peary-listed film where his antics and deadpan delivery seem to fit perfectly: what else should one be but calm, cool, and snarky in the face of existential paranormal crises? Sure, his character is a boorish and womanizing cad, but his super-smart colleagues are busy rocking it in their own way, and Weaver more than holds her own, especially when she gets to face off against Murray supernatural-style.
Speaking of Weaver, she has immense fun with her role, and looks stunning even when — or perhaps especially when — possessed. The special effects are surprisingly effective for a film of this era, and excellent use is made of New York City sets. Meanwhile, the entire storyline of ghosts being captured and held in electronic captivity couldn’t resonate more aptly with our modern-day concerns over digital security; the film is almost prescient in its depiction of evil forces itching to take over the world, let loose by bumbling bureaucrats (in this case, a clueless EPA employee played by William Atherton). Film fanatics should enjoy checking out — or revisiting — this iconic ’80s cult favorite, which has held up well as a silly horror-comedy.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Bill Murray as Dr. Peter Venkman
- A surprisingly appealing set of nerdy superheroes
- Sigourney Weaver’s fun performance as possessed-Dana
- Fine special effects, costumes, and make-up
- Excellent use of New York City sets
- Ray Parker, Jr.’s inimitable theme song
Yes, as a fun cult favorite.
(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)