Ghostbusters

Released:  1984

Cast:  Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Harold Ramis, Rick Moranis

Oscar Nominations:  Best Original Song (“Ghostbusters” — Ray Parker Jr.), Best Effects, Visual Effects (Richard Edlund, John Bruno, Mark Vargo, Chuck Gaspar)

SUMMARY:  In a branch of the New York Public Library, a librarian experiences a paranormal event, in which she sees the ghost of a dead librarian, as well as books whizzing around the room.  The library calls in three parapsychologists from Columbia University:  Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Raymond Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) and Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) to investigate.  When they see the ghost and realize that the librarian is telling the truth, the start creating ways to capture and contain ghosts; however, they are fired from the university.  The men then go into independent business, setting themselves up in an old fire station and calling themselves the “Ghostbusters”.  Spengler and Stantz create proton pack weapons, which are used to capture ghosts, as well as a disposal system inside the fire house.  Their first successful capture is at a hotel, where a pudgy green ghost is terrorizing the 12th floor.  After news of their success gets out, the Ghostbusters become very popular, and have to hire a fourth member, Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson, who also plays Sandra Bullock’s FBI boss in Miss Congeniality); they also retain a secretary.  Only a short time after opening, the business is visited by Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver), who believes her apartment is haunted.  After a carton of eggs spontaneously burst in her kitchen one day, Dana opened the fridge to find some kind of portal:  she also heard the name “Zuul”.  The Ghostbusters agree to look into the matter, but when Venkman investigates the apartment (as an excuse to get near Dana), the fridge looks completely normal.  Spengler and Venkman find out that Zuul was an ancient Sumerian demigod, who was a servant for Gozer the Gozerian.  Gozer is the god of destruction, and further investigations reveal that Dana’s apartment building was built by a man named Ivo Shandor.  After WWI, Shandor believed that humanity had reached its lowest point, and specifically designed the building to act as a portal for Gozer, who would come to destroy the world.

As the Ghostbusters are working on this case, and others, Zuul possesses Dana, who then declares she is the “Gatekeeper”; her neighbor Louis Tully (Rick Moranis) is possessed by another demon, and refers to himself as the “Keymaster”.  The Ghostbusters realize that both are possessed, but unsure what to do, they try to just keep Louis away from Dana.  At the same time, they have to deal with Walter Peck, a lawyer from the Environmental Protection Agency.  The EPA claims that the Ghostbusters are illegally disposing of waste (the ghosts), and force the men to shut down the ghost containment system.  This causes all the ghosts to be released, and they begin causing trouble all over New York.  In the commotion, Louis gets away from the Ghostbusters and goes to Dana’s apartment:  together, they open the portal and turn into huge mutant dogs.  After dealing witht he EPA at the mayor’s office, the Ghostbusters head to the apartment building.  However, they are too late — Gozer has already appeared.  The men try to use their proton packs on her, and manage to do minor harm; Gozer then disappears, but tells the men that the “destructor” will soon come, in whatever form the Ghostbusters choose.  Venkman warns the others to keep their minds blank, but it is too late:  Stantz has already thought of something he considers completely non-threatening — the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.  This monster rampages through the city until Spengler has the idea of combining their proton pack streams and firing them at the portal.  The four men do this, and destroy the portal, Gozer and the Marshmallow Man (resulting in a huge explosion that leaves most of New York covered in marshmallow); at the same time, Dana and Louis are un-possessed, and return to their normal forms.  The Ghostbusters leave the building to a hero’s welcome.

MY TAKE:  Parts of this movie are funny, but a lot of it is just mediocre in my opinion.  There’s not a whole lot of chemistry between the main male characters, and Spengler and Zeddemore really get lost in the shuffle.  Bill Murray’s character is kind of an idiot, and I really wondered if he had a degree in anything (since he worked at a university).  I thought the characters of the secretary (played by Annie Potts), Dana and Louis were a lot more entertaining.  Louis is obsessed with Dana, and routinely tries to “run into her” in the hall — usually locking himself out of his apartment in the process.  Actually, the entire casting of Sigourney Weaver is amusing:  she became famous for playing an alien ass-kicker in the Alien movies, and in this one she gets possessed.  Really, if anyone should be able to fight off a possession, it would be Ellen Ripley.  She doesn’t seem to have a lot of chemistry with Venkman, mostly because she seems to think he’s an idiot, but she warms up a little when he saves her from being a mutant dog for the rest of her life.  I think the plot could have used more development, as everything seemed rushed and abrupt — the Ghostbusters manage to create effective weapons and a containment system after only one encounter with a ghost, in which they don’t actually do anything.  It would have helped things (and probably have been really funny) if they had to test several things out before getting it right.  The whole Gozer thing was also kind of out of left field.  It’s funny on the surface, but there’s problems on deeper levels.

RATING:  Eh.

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