directed by Ivan Reitman
(Columbia TriStar, 1984)

I first saw Ghostbusters the summer between high school and college. Call me a geek (actually, don't -- it might hurt my feelings) but I immediately fell in love with the film. I saw it in the theater several times and was occasionally known to sport an official "Ghostbusters" t-shirt.

I'm happy to say, the film holds up nearly two decades later.

The team is classic. Bill Murray heads the gang as the ne'er-do-well academic and con man Peter Venkman. Movie co-writers Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis are his more serious and studious partners in parapsychology, Raymond Stantz and Egon Spengler. Their first discovery of legitimate spectral activity at a metropolitan library coincides with their dismissal from a major New York university; they try to capitalize on their findings by forming a company that finds and catches ghosts.

The premise is rife with comedic possibilities, and the trio, along with director Ivan Reitman, exploits them to good effect as the former professors launch their new business. Venkman's dry humor, Spengler's drier humorlessness and Stantz's earnest naivete are a great combination. Annie Potts adds fire as their cranky receptionist Janine Melnitz, and Ernie Hudson provides solidity to the team as co-buster Winston Zeddemore.

Their first of many clients is the skeptical Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver), who spots unnatural beasties in her refrigerator. She is possessed by the harbinger Zuul, while her nerdy neighbor, Louis Tully (Rick Moranis), plays host to the evil envoy Vinz Clortho -- both of which first manifest themselves as demonic dogs.

Meanwhile, their upscale uptown apartment building transforms into a gateway for the evil god Gozer (supermodel Slavitza Jovan, voiced by Reitman) at about the same time the Ghostbusters' operations are hamstrung by the EPA's intrusive agent Walter Peck (William Atherton). A few media personalities -- Joe Franklin, Roger Grimsby, Casey Kasem and Larry King) chime in to lend authenticity to the proceedings as, after a successful run of ghostbusting, ghostly mayhem is let loose on the city.

And then there's the giant marshmallow man....

Ghostbusters is a comedy classic. The plot is clever, the dialogue brilliant and the delivery perfect. It's good, solid fun that will no doubt continue making me laugh for years to come.

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 31 October 2002

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