Once again, I’m catching up with the rest of the world and watching a beloved classic WAY later. This time, Ghostbusters! Obviously there will be some spoilers, but it’s been nearly 35 years, so…
I walk by the New York Public Library almost every day, sometimes I like to sit by one of the lions and sketch. So the ominous music swell up into one of the big cat’s faces as two pigeons perched on it just kind of made me smirk a bit. But in all seriousness, I really enjoyed the way the film opens, something about the first books floating to opposite shelves when the librarian wasn’t looking was especially charming to me. The whole movie seems to have that kind of love put into it, the way a non-sequel only can, not trying to pander to a fad, but tell a unique new story.
Unfortunately, I hit a few snags with Venkman’s weird ESP test and his initial advances on Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver). I noticed this with Han Solo too, I just get very frustrated with the way 80s films have guys pushing themselves on a woman. It was a different time, yadda yadda, but I’d like to point you to the direction of Tootsie (1982) where Dustin Hoffman turns to dressing up as a woman to land a soap opera role that teaches him the annoying parts of being a woman in society and leads him to stick up for himself and inspire women to do the same with “Dorothy’s” performance.
But I digress, it’s not as though I hated Venkman, not for the entire film. Bill Murray is wonderful at doing deadpan (again, watch Tootsie, he’s marvelous in it,) but his snark in Ghostbusters is equally fun. I had concerns he was going to be playing another smarmy jerk like he did in Scrooged (1988) which I admittedly didn’t even get halfway through. No, Venkman seems more like a witty salesman type. (I just could’ve done without him asking a petrified librarian if she was menstruating.) Egon was my favorite, he was 100% dry humor and I hadn’t realized how much I love that sort of thing. (But by the end I can honestly say I liked the entire quartet.)
But I was pleasantly surprised by the way the romance between Murray and Weaver progressed, taking a couple steps back after his initial “I am madly in love with you [woman I just met today]” and giving us a fairly charming scene between the two while a sniffly Timothy Carhart squinted angrily in the background. (I googled the cast just to find a name for that joke.)
After this, however, I felt the pacing hit a speed bump or two. The plot wasn’t disrupted or anything, but it felt like about when Dana is attacked by Zuul that something had been missing; like another scene may have been cut for time? I can’t say, but maybe that’s just me and like I said, it didn’t derail the rest of the movie for me. Possessed Sigourney Weaver had me worried there was going to be a weird sexual encounter, but Venkman’s screen time with her ended up being one of my favorite sequences (and hard not to be since it was crammed with an abundance of Murray’s pithy one-liners.)
When mentioning I’d finally seen this film to a friend, I was mainly expected to have been put off by the cheesy effects. In all honesty? They didn’t bother me in the slightest and I was fairly impressed. The effects in this movie almost add to its charm! They’re not even bad if you ask me, especially for the time.
Like Star Wars, I’m walking away understanding a bunch of pop culture references. It makes me appreciate the beginning of Stranger Things 2 even more, especially Dustin’s functional ghost trap! And while I would rewatch the Netflix original entirely, seeing Sigourney Weaver in anything just makes me want to rewatch Alien for a second time… so that may be next on my delayed journey through the classics.
Author’s note: I haven’t seen the 2016 reboot of this movie and I sincerely don’t plan to. I love Kate McKinnon and Melissa McCarthy, but I just can’t be asked to even put time into it. It bombed because it was apparently a plot black hole. Priorities!