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Ghostbusters Reviews

Page 1 of 1352
Daniel Mumby
Daniel Mumby

Super Reviewer

October 16, 2009
There are a select number of films held in such high regard in popular culture that to even faintly criticise them is considered heresy. Like Star Wars before it, Ghostbusters is a film which seemingly everyone is aware of, and even if you've never seen it you can probably hum the theme tune or quote the script. It's a seemingly iconic work, a high-water mark of American comedy that anyone with a sense of humour should enjoy.

What such an attitude fails to acknowledge is that film taste is inherently subjective, particularly when it comes to comedy. Regular readers of my reviews will already have a fair idea of what my tastes are: I like my comedies on the darker side, preferably surreal but crucially substantial - I like comedies that are about something. It may be, therefore, that I am predisposed to dislike Ghostbusters, being as it is a shallow, high-concept star vehicle. Or, just as probably, it may be that it just isn't funny.

There are a couple of aspects to Ghostbusters which we are able to admire regardless of how funny we find it. Despite being essentially a vehicle for former Saturday Night Live stars, the film is a reasonably literate affair, at least as far as the horror genre is concerned. There are big references throughout to the work of H. P. Lovecraft, including the isolated, academic nature of its protagonists, the slimy nature of the ghosts (such as Slimer himself), and of course the involvement of ancient gods who are at best indifferent towards humanity.

The film also deserves credit for being a mainstream blockbuster which has intelligent people as its protagonists. We've become used to our summer blockbusters being populated by characters who are complete idiots, bound up in plots which can only make sense if everyone involved is either stupid or doesn't care. Ghostbusters, one of the biggest blockbusters in history, bucks this trend: it unashamedly celebrates the cleverness of its male leads, giving us characters who succeed through brains rather than good looks or good luck.

Unfortunately, this bit of praise also brings us onto one of the big problems with Ghostbusters, namely the characters. While Dan Aykroyd and the late Harold Ramis made their heroes intellectual in nature, each of the three main parts are severely underwritten. Bill Murray's character seems driven only by a need to be sarcastic or seductive, while Aykroyd and Ramis do little else but stand around explaining the plot. No matter how many dry one-liners Murray gets through, the characters don't feel like real people.

The best way to illustrate this point is the words of Stephen Fry, when he was interviewed about the difference between British and American comedy. Fry argued that the archetypal American comic hero is a wise-cracker who is above those around him, embodiying the belief in American culture that everything can be bettered or improved. While British comic heroes are distinctive characters (and expressions of failure), American comic heroes are "not characters at all, they're just brilliant repositories of fantastic, killer one-liners."

Aykroyd, Murray and Ramis are all essentially playing to type, and there is no real chemistry between them because the types are constantly in awkward competition with each other. Murray's deadpan wise-cracking doesn't gel with Aykroyd's fast-talking or Ramis' forgettable geekiness. The same goes for Rick Moranis, whose socially incompetent accountant is excrutiating: it's played so broadly and unrelentingly that it always grates against the story. Even Sigourney Weaver is underused, with her character existing only to get hit on, first by Murray and then by Zuul.

Of course, it is possible for a film with stereotypical characters to still fire if its script has a strong enough story. The James Bond series is absolutely littered with archetypal characters, with the best films in the series having a good enough story to make them not matter so much. But despite its faithful nods to Lovecraft and its intellectual protagonists, Ghostbusters still manages to make the very least of its material.

The plot of Ghostbusters essentially takes the first half of the 1946 film Spook Busters and then slowly unravels it through a steadily increasing parade of special effects. Like the Beverly Hills Cop series, the story is not so much a story as it is a series of set-pieces; they are linked together loosely by montage, but you could still watch them in any order with the same impact. As for the dialogue, 80% of it is meaningless jargon designed to big up the characters' intelligence. But simply saying a lot of long words doesn't make a character smart, giving us even less reason to bond with them.

As with Beverly Hills Cop, Ghostbusters could have had a much more complex and satisfying story if a little bit more effort had been put into it. The idea of man-made structures being engineered to harness the power of gods is a nice, pulpy idea; it's only a hop, skip and jump from the work of Erich von Däniken, whose writings were a big influence on the fourth Indiana Jones film. When allied to Lovecraft, this could have formed an interesting premise, with a team of scientists seeking to stop an individual driven mad by knowledge of ancient demons, and trying to unleash those demons onto the human world.

Part of the reason Ghostbusters doesn't work on a story level is its indecisive pussy-footing around spiritual questions. Any film or story in which ghosts are involved immediately raises questions about the afterlife - what ghosts are, how they function, where the boundaries lie between different worlds and so forth. But the film either fails to acknowledge such questions or provides contradicting answers; for instance, it accepts the existence of extremely powerful gods, but also believes that humans can conquer said gods with little more than beams of energy. It's another indication of the laziness present in the script, as the film squanders another interesting angle for the sake of a simple, easy-to-follow climax.

The special effects in Ghostbusters were provided by Boss Films, who later provided the effects for John Carpenter's cult disaster Big Trouble in Little China. In both films they dominate the visual landscape rather than adding to the physical sets, to the point where the characters become swamped by them. The big special effects ending, involving the gateway on top of the skyscraper, is a big anticlimax because it doesn't feel physical or like a natural continuation of the narrative. Even the physical effects, such as Zuul's appearance in the fridge, aren't that convincing even for the day.

Then we come to the problems with the film's direction. Ghostbusters looks and sounds perfectly okay, boasting decent cinematography from László Kovács (Easy Rider) and a score from John Landis' long-time collaborator Elmer Bernstein. But as far as its direction goes, Ivan Reitman is every bit at sea with his cast here as Martin Brest was on Beverly Hills Cop. In both cases the camerawork is overly basic and the editing is slack, as though Reitman just left the cameras on until someone said something funny.

In a further comparison with Beverly Hills Cop, there are a number of tonal problems with Ghostbusters. The film doesn't have the uncomfortable homophobic undercurrent running through it like Brest's film, but it doesn't have a great deal of respect for its female characters. The scene where Zuul captures Dana, in which hands come through the chair and grab her, is uncomfortably rapey, and the levitation scene (which rips off The Exorcist) is just another excuse to put the character in needlessly sexual situations. Blockbusters are often accused of being built around the needs of teenage boys, and looking at scenes like the latter, it's not hard to see why.

Ghostbusters is a deeply unfunny comedy which deserves little if any of its glowing reputation. Despite a number of dry laughs and admirable decisions, it squanders most of its potential in favour of cheap stereotypes, sex jokes and special effects, none of which engage to any satisfying degree. It's not the low point in the careers of any of its stars (which is very telling of each of them), but it hasn't stood the test of time anything like as well as we've been led to believe. In short, it's a massive disappointment that's even bigger than the Twinkie.
cosmo313
cosmo313

Super Reviewer

June 9, 2006
This is easily one of the most popular films ever made. And thankfully, it's also actually an excellent piece of work in its own right.

What we get here is the story of some "paranormal investigators" who, after getting kicked out of Columbia University and having their grant revoked, strike out on their own using homemade equipment to capture ghosts, ghouls, and all manner of otherworldly spectres that start plaguing NYC.

First off, this is just an amazingly clever, creative, and fun premise. The ghost effects are charming, sometimes rather creepy, and altogether a sign of imagination at work. More importantly, this film is quite witty, funny, quotable, and memorable. The characters are what really make this work. As the Ghostbusters, we get Harold Ramis, Bill murray, and Dan Aykroyd as the original trio, and Ernie Hudson as a new recruit, taken on to help curb the increasing level of paranormal threats. All of these guys are in top form here, and they really have excellent chemistry. I like them all, and for different reasons, but as a kid, Winston (Ernie Hudson) was my favorite. But then again, you can't go wrong with Ray's (Aykroyd) bubbly enthusiasm, Peter's (Murray) dry sarcasm, or Egon's(Ramis) nerdy technobabble.

As their first client and Peter's would-be girlfriend Dana, Sigourney Weaver is incredibly gorgeous, and quite solid. Rick Moranis is a delight as Dana's doofy accountant neighbor Louis, and Annie Potts is a scream as Ghostbusters secretary Janine. And, while the film could have worked just fine with ghostly baddies, we also get William Atherton as an antagonistic EPA agent.

Trying to pick a favorite line or moment is just way too hard for me. The film is loaded with lots of little and big moments that are just comic and cinematic gold. The script by Ramis and Aykroyd is razor sharp and creative. It wasn't until I was an adult that I was able to catch all the jokes that flew over my head as a kid. Even then, I still notice new things each time I watch it. Ivan Reitman's direction is light, yet assured, finding a good balance between plot and character moments. The music by Elmer Bernstein is diverse, but well blended, fun, and like the movie itself, quite memorable.

This has been one of my all time favorites for basically most of my life. Even if it wasn't, I'd still probably be a big fan just because of how unique and enjoyable this all is. Bottom line: it's not only a must see, but it's a one that bears endless repeat viewings.
Eugene B

Super Reviewer

May 13, 2013
A fun-filled comedic adventure that's a true defining film of it's decade. Ghostbusters' combustion of laughter, special effects and a tactical cast makes it enjoyable and entertaining for all audiences. 4/5
TomBowler
TomBowler

Super Reviewer

July 31, 2009
A total classic and with good reason. MVP Bill Murray. Full review later.
CloudStrife84
CloudStrife84

Super Reviewer

July 3, 2007
There are a lot of reasons to love the 80's and this is one of them. After seeing it now for the umpteenth time, it's still as ingeniously funny as ever. Some of the special effects may look a little dated compared to what we're spoiled with today, but it doesn't really matter as it's all conceived in such tongue-in-cheek fun. If you for one reason or another haven't seen it yet, make sure you do, because this movie is a total blast and the perfect marriage between sci-fi and high-concept comedy.

"We came. We saw. We kicked its ass."
Daniel P

Super Reviewer

April 15, 2007
You've seen it on TV, in bits and pieces. You've picked it up midway and watched to the end, and conversely, you've started it on a lazy afternoon and abandoned it to do something else. You've seen it drunk. You've seen it at eleven in the morning, or three in the morning, or on a winter Saturday night when you'd be crazy to leave the house and pulled it out of your VHS collection, amazed that the tape hadn't flat-out broken down yet. And now - thirty years later - you can see that there's a lot wrong with the film. It looks low-budget, even though it cost thirty million in the 80s, and the science is never explained, just hidden behind acronyms. But the film remains a ton of fun, an old friend that's out there on the ledge of plausibility, using a script with a surprising number of second- and third-viewing jokes and a subtly brilliant performance by a cocky young Bill Murray. The reception our heroes receive in the end is one of the most over-the-top, corniest 80s jubilations you'll ever see, right up there with Ferris Buehler's parade performance, but you're laughing and maybe, even though it's your living room, you're cheering along with the crowd. Not your usual four-star rating, from me, but a film that makes you feel so good you'll forgive its every flaw, every darn time.
michael e.
michael e.

Super Reviewer

September 14, 2010
The first Ghostbusters film is a very funny movie, and probably one of the most innovative films of the time. Bill Murray does a hysterically well done job as the douche-bag Dr. Peter Venkman, and the other Ghostbusters do great jobs, Dan Akroyd is great as Peters friend Ray, Harold Ramis is great as the techie dude Egon, and Ernie Hudson is great as the cool guy Winston. The effects are incredibly well done, and I think it personally has the best effects of the time, if not some of the best effects ever put in film. The plot is very creative and the best thing about it is that the effects and the comedy never overshadow what it is all about, but adds to how interesting the plot of the film is. If you want to see one of the gems of the 1980s then definitely check this film out.
Eric A

Super Reviewer

July 31, 2011
If you were to watch this now you would probably laugh at the special effects, but I bet they were awesome back in 1984. To me it's a classic; an all around good and fun movie.
c0up
c0up

Super Reviewer

September 22, 2012
'Ghostbusters'. Its effects have aged terribly, but the same can't be said for Bill Murray's comedic genius that draws laughs time and time again.

Notable exception: the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man!
Everett J

Super Reviewer

August 27, 2012
I guess the best thing to say about this movie is, if you don't like "Ghostbusters" then you probably hate smiling and cotton candy. Probably, marshmallows too actually. "Ghostbusters" is a true timeless classic, that really stands the test of time. I re-watched this on Blu Ray, and the transfer probably could look better, but the movie is still very fresh and funny. Dan Akroyd, Billy Murray, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson have great chemistry, and you just don't have comedy groups like this anymore. The effects are a tad dated, but that just adds to the charm of it. Plus, where else are you going to get an evil giant Marshmallow Man who threatens to destroy New York? With one of the best movie theme songs ever, this is a movie to be shared with new generations(I watched with my nephews), and to be enjoyed nearly 30 years since it's release.
blkbomb
blkbomb

Super Reviewer

May 13, 2011
Dr. Peter Venkman: We came, we saw, we kicked its ass! 

"They're Here To Save The World."

Ghostbusters is a classic comedy that just about everyone is familiar with and just about everyone loves. It's hard not to with the ridiculousness of the ghouls and the hilarity of the ghostbusters. It's a genius comedy written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, both of which play a ghostbuster. It's directed by Ivan Reitman, who does the best thing possible. He let's Bill Murray completely take the film over. Bill Murray is at the top of his game here and gives one of his best comedic performances. The great thing that Murray displays here, is that you don't have to try really hard to be funny. Being funny just comes natural to him.

Three professors at a university who study ghost related phenomena lose their grant and become unemployed. They decide to open up their own business, advertising on tv that they will get the ghosts. Business is slow at first, but after one successful capture; their popularity takes off. It's a great concept for a comedy. Putting these three actors together to be ghostbusters is absolutely brilliant. There's just no way not to enjoy yourself while watching Ghostbusters. It is an increasingly fun experience that you can watch over and over again.

Ghostbusters is endless comedy and endless entertainment. The movie has a pretty fast pace to it and is always entertaining. Watching Ghostbusters for the first time should be a thrill for anyone. It's pretty much a legend of the comedy genre and is essentially required viewing for everyone now. It's classic status is unquestioned. It should be a comedy that is loved by new generations for a long, long time to come. 
TheDudeLebowski65
TheDudeLebowski65

Super Reviewer

June 9, 2010
Ghostbusters has got to be one of the most inventive, and original comedies in a long time. Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis wrote the script to this awesome comedy sci fi horror gem. In the process they created something refreshing and ingenious. Ghostbusters can now be seen as a classic, there are so many things that are memorable in the film, and those elements really made the film what it is. The Stay Puft marshmallow Man attacking New York being one of the prime examples of this film being memorable, another would be Dan Aykroyd's character confronting Slimer for the first time. Ghostbusters is a terrific Comedy Horror film. The film effectively blends different genres to create something new and refreshing. The result is an original supernatural comedy with touches of mystery, horror, and sci fi. The film blends everything so well that you really can't put a label on the genre of this film. It's really a true classic. The acting is great, and the story is very original. Probably one of the most memorable things about this film is the Stay Puft Marshmallow man and of course, Slimer. The actors here are simply terrific, Billy Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis portray the fearless Ghostbusters as they rid New York City of the ghosts of the undead. A terrific film that blends many good genres into one great and memorable film. Ghostbusters is a film that will definitely appeal to different genre fans whether you're a horror fan or comedy fan. This film has something for everyone.
Alexander D

Super Reviewer

June 15, 2011
Who ya gonna call?
bbcfloridabound
bbcfloridabound

Super Reviewer

October 27, 2007
Hard to believe that this movie came out 28 years ago, until you watch it again and see how young Bill Murry, Dan Aykroyd and Sigourney Weaver were. The next time you get ready to complain about the price of a DVD or Blue Ray is, I will tell you I paid $69.95 at K mart for the VHS Tape and that was ten dollars less then anywhere else, there wasn't no Wal-Mart back then. Back then it was a 4 star movie, but when I compare it to movies of today I can only muster up 3 stars, but still its a classic that will be shown for years to come.
Stuart B

Super Reviewer

October 1, 2006
I love this movie, who doesn't?
Graham J

Super Reviewer

November 20, 2011
A film that on paper doesn't seem like it should work, Ivan Reitman's comedy/action masterpiece works just fine due to groundbreaking special effects and great comedic performances.
Matheus C

Super Reviewer

August 9, 2011
There's something quite magical about seeing well made pre-digital old school optical effects - they required so much more imagination from our brains (now anaesthetized by so much digital trickery) and even though they're not always entirely convincing, there's always the "how did they do that?" sense of wonder (how can't one love the sight of a giant marshmallow wreaking havoc in the streets of New York). The film itself appeals to our need for 80s nostalgia, but it hasn't aged as well as some of other fantasy-based comedies from the same time and has lost some of its firecracking energy. Still, it's a welcome reminder of a time before Hollywood went all raunchy and there were pretty good family comedies around - now pretty much an extinct breed. Bill Murray and Rick Moranis have those faces you feel you've known all your life, but that you can't help but laugh at the simple sight of them - but it's Sigourney Weaver who really steals her later scenes with her foxy cross of Regan McNeil and Dr. Frank 'n Further. And who'd have known that the most evil force in the universe would look just like David Bowie.
Scott G

Super Reviewer

October 29, 2011
A truly revolutionary film, and is definitely way ahead of it's time, Bill Murray in particular gave a performance you can't forget, CGI isn't spectacular, but that is just because of it's standard at the time it was made, and is therefore not a problem.
FilmFanatik
FilmFanatik

Super Reviewer

January 12, 2007
A long forgotten film reviewer described this movie as "a perfectly told joke" and I couldn't agree more. Ghostbusters has always been, in my estimation at least, to be the funniest and most engaging film ever made. There are several reasons for this, but they all start with the stellar direction from Ivan Reitman (who never really gets enough credit). Also credit is due to the wonderful and brilliant writing from Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis in a truly remarkable happy accident of ingenuity. The ensemble cast is quite remarkable too, including Bill Murray, Aykroyd, Ramis, Sigourney Weaver, Rick Moranis, Annie Potts, Ernie Hudson and William Atherton. Bill Murray steals the show for the most part but there are lots of great moments for the rest of the cast and each of them has their moment to shine. Combining gothic elements, art deco and a gritty New York sensibility, the actual look of them film really stands out and makes it one of the best-looking comedies probably ever produced. Due to the popularity (and rightly so) of the film's theme song, Elmer Bernstein has never been given quite enough credit for the delightful score. At times it can whimsical and upbeat while also managing to capture the fun of the film's more sinister moments and even its romantic side. Industrial Light And Magic also really out-did themselves and enhanced the story's possibilities with the great special effects on display. The ghosts look great and scary, the proton wand shooting and trapping shots look incredible and the final showdown of the movie is nothing more than pure spectacle. Hardly any film has ever combined horror and comedy so well, and still remained so accessible to so many viewers. If it goes down in history as the funniest comedy of all time, I would happily smile and agree. :)
Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer

September 20, 2011
Ghostbusters is a classic comedy film and the best film that Bill Murray has been cast in to. The laughs come when they need to be. Superbly Silly.
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