Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Short Take: Ghostbusters (1984)

Ghostbusters (1984) is one of the two or three most successful comedy films ever produced, but one may find it a letdown. It's more silly than funny, and the cheesy adventure plot may leave one feeling it's strictly for kids. It has a straightforward premise: After three parapsychologists (Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Harold Ramis) lose their university research grant, they set up a pest-control business specializing in ghosts and other supernatural phenomena. There are enjoyable things in the picture. The heroes' first job, in which they trap a ghost that's menacing a luxury hotel, is a good slapstick set piece. Sigourney Weaver, who plays a cellist whose apartment is haunted, turns in a fine comic performance. She's drily amusing in her early scenes, in which she's constantly fending off unwanted male attention, and she's deliriously funny in her later ones, after the character has been possessed by an ancient demon. Some incidental bits, such as Ray Parker, Jr.'s witty jingle-style theme song, have their charm. But the comic aspects of the script, by Aykroyd and Ramis, are poorly developed. Most of the one-liners feel like throwaways. Potentially funny ideas, such as a 100-foot marshmallow mascot stalking the heroes on Central Park West, aren't shaped into gags. They're just dumped into the proceedings as if the absurdity by itself was hilarious. Several talented performers--Rick Moranis as a nerdy accountant, Annie Potts as the heroes' jaded secretary, William Atherton as a quick-tempered EPA investigator--feel stranded. (Moranis has one good line. During a party scene, the accountant hears a gargoyle roar in the next room, and he asks who brought the dog.) Yet for all one's reservations, it must be acknowledged that many adore the picture. Its box-office success and iconic pop-culture status attest to that. Opinions tend to hinge on how one responds to Bill Murray. If you feel the picture is a strong showcase for his slobby wiseguy persona, you'll love it. If you're indifferent to his presence here, the picture leaves you cold. Ivan Reitman directed.

1 comment:

  1. "Gozer the Traveler. He will come in one of the pre-chosen forms. During the rectification of the Vuldrini, the traveler came as a large and moving Torg! Then, during the third reconciliation of the last of the McKetrick supplicants, they chose a new form for him: that of a giant Slor! Many Shuvs and Zuuls knew what it was to be roasted in the depths of the Slor that day, I can tell you!"

    That is nonsensically brilliant!