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Review #29: Ghostbusters.

The movie initially wasn’t made as a kids movie, it was intended to be an adult tongue in cheek comedy based on a premise of ‘firemen who catch ghosts rather than fight fires’.
It just proved popular with 80s kids, including myself and eventually a dumbed-down-for-kids sequel and entire franchise of cartoons and toys were spawned off the back of the movie.

This review is about the original film.

The movie starts with Ray Stantz, Peter Venkman and Egon Spengler (Dan Ayckroyd, Bill Murray and Harold Ramis, respectively) slacking off and taking a relatively lax approach to paranormal study at their university. Ray being the most upbeat and normal member of the brainy trio, Egon the brainier scientist and Peter being a brilliant mind also but very down to earth and extremely lazy when it takes his fancy.

Shortly after making what they perceive as a breakthrough in their ‘work’ on the paranormal, they’re kicked out of university for basically being slackers.

They take their research and some money they make from selling (an unwilling) Ray’s house, using their combined intelligence and their companionship, they start up a business in Paranormal Investigations and Eliminations as the Ghostbusters.
Unbeknownst to them, they’re being watched by outside authorities and their research has shown a massive spike in paranormal activity around the city of New York that stems from a particular building near Central Park.

After a woman who lives in the building comes to them and explains some of the strange things she’s witnessed there, it’s up to them to investigate and stop whatever lurks in the building.

The movie takes itself seriously at times, when it does, it works very well, the jumpy scary moments are fantastically put together.
Most of the time it utilises humour and extremely subtle timing as a catalyst for the comedy.
The dialogue is also extremely funny and very well delivered by the cast.
The whole movie is, in the words of the makers, "One long, very well written joke".

The action, though quite short and sweet, is well choreographed and uses the limited special effects brilliantly. Ivan Reitman’s direction is superb. It’s exciting and staged wonderfully.

The actors too are extremely comfortable in their roles.
Murray in particular is at his absolute best, he plays the role with an ease not seen outside of Groundhog Day or even Scrooged.
Ayckroyd is as usual, he’s funny, upbeat, offbeat and very engaging as the ‘heart of the Ghostbusters’.
Ramis does a fantastic job as the fungus loving brainbox, Egon. You really believe this guy is the Einstein of the 80s.
Ernie Hudson is introduced halfway through the film as the ‘everyman’ of the story. His character is used initially as the guy who gets the scientific stuff explained for the audience. He plays the role with a coolness and down to earth. He’s very likeable.
Sigourney Weaver, who at the time was mostly famous for her tough role in Alien is perfectly cast as a relatively homely and very scared Dana Barrett, (now Venkman’s love interest), she has a real connection to the audience and has wonderful chemistry with Murray. Her role becomes a key point of the paranormal plot too.

A special mention should go out to Rick Moranis. His character, Louis Tulley, is very, very funny. Though not seen a massive amount in the film, he too is an important role in the plot. Moranis actually ad-libbed most of his dialogue and movement too, which makes the character even funnier.

The one fault with the movie, if you can call it a fault:
The effects of the movie are a Marmite question for a lot of people.
When the effects are first seen in the hotel during the Ghostbusters first job, they hit the audience with a delightful shock.
After that, some of the effects can let some people down, they’re very cartoony. The filmmakers have said in the past it was due to a limited budget rather than a style choice.
I say, if the effects were any different, it wouldn’t have worked as well as it did. It adds to the movie’s feel of not taking itself too seriously. They're bright and colourful, lots of fun and make the movie stand out a mile.

Add to all that, fantastic sound-effects (particularly the Proton-Packs) and a stomping theme tune you've got a very special movie.

All in all, an absolute classic 80s film. Funny, engaging, occasionally frightening and brilliantly cast.

My rating 98%