Friday, October 24, 2008

Film Review--Ghostbusters

directed by Ivan Reitman
written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis
starring Harold Ramis, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Annie Potts, Rick Moranis, William Atherton, Ernie Hudson, David Margulies

Ah, the special, bullish necessity of ridding the world of the undead. In this film, we have three men who have been researching paranormal activities for many a moon without much success. They get a call at a library where an elderly librarian is haunting the premises and that experience doesn’t go particularly well. Then they are kicked out of Columbia University and have their grants revoked. Undeterred they go into business for themselves and set up shop in an abandoned fire station.

Dr. Peter Venkman (Murray) is a slap-happy scientist who begs to be put out of his misery. He’s a bit daft, a bit crafty and entirely enslaved by the chilly, spirited idea of getting his own with the spooks and calamity causing entities who threaten all of New York. He’s a cautious man who seeks only to do his work without getting trammeled although he is slimed during one job. Dr. Raymond Stantz (Aykroyd) is a bit more practical and technically oriented. He knows every major poltergeist case going back hundreds of years and can name every technical aspect of the machines they implement to successfully secure their locations. Dr. Egon Spengler (Ramis) is the serious one who is the true student of the paranormal and tracks the ghosts with fancy Geiger like equipment. Between them the three men seem to make up one man who is finely tuned and capable of getting the job done.

To this heady mix is added a woman named Dana Barrett (Weaver) who sees some crazy schitt in her kitchen. She visits the Ghostbusters and Venkman immediately hits on her because he imagines he’s in love with her. (There is definitely a sense of sexual dysfunction among the three men although Venkman seems willing to approach it from a practical angle.) Later Ms. Barrett is accosted in her apartment and possessed by the spirit of an entity called Zuul. She emerges as a highly sexualized being capable of great feats of physical dexterity including but not limited to levitation. She moans, grinds and seems perfectly willing and able to capture the seed of any man who comes within fifty feet of her. Her body is a calamitous weapon and her flesh feels hot through the screen. This character at this moment is a dry humping, salacious, victimless machine of oozing potentialities. She is also one of the most sexually blatant characters to grace the screen since, well, ever. She’s certainly not the sexiest character of recent memory but she is definitely the most ready.

The work the men do takes them all over town as business explodes after they rid a hotel of an entity although they nearly destroy part of the hotel in the process. Nevertheless, business takes off and they can hardly keep up with orders. Their secretary, Janine Melnitz (Potts) finally has something to do and they are resigned to hire another ghostbuster, a man named Winston Zeddmore (Hudson) with little experience who proves to be an asset to the team.

The effects in this film are all well constructed and thrilling. Before CG ruined everyone’s day, there were actual effects that implemented models, scale, and various other hard scrabbled methods of conveying the odd universe that this film inhabits. The results are nearly seamless although on occasion the ghosts do look rather cheesy. Still, the film has an energy that is the direct product of a stellar effects team and proper editing. It possesses a vitality that moves through every scene and each actor adds something unique to the overall process.

The performances in this film are all quite adequate for the material. Bill Murray plays his usual schtick and pulls off a character who is a bit daft, a bit deranged, and thoroughly engaging. Dan Aykroyd is solid, contained and believable in his role as a semi-hysterical scientists who so desperately wants to be proven right in his assumptions. Harold Ramis brings a certain elegance to his role and does a good job conveying his character’s devotion to his work. Annie Potts plays a character who is a bit dazed. Her character is likable throughout and possesses an intriguing back story that is never really investigated. Rick Moranis is involved with some of the more obvious gags that wear out their welcome the third or fourth time they are implemented. Still, he’s a classic cinematic nerd and desperate for a piece of grade A ass. Sigourney Weaver plays raw sex in this film and pulls it off admirably. Her character is easily the most interesting to watch mainly because it’s Sigourney Weaver doing sex moves and one cannot deny the appeal of such a thing. Ernie Hudson plays it straight mostly and keeps his character grounded throughout.
Slavitza Jovan sears the retinas with her turn as a sinister god. She’s a bit cruel and terribly sexy which proves to be a rather exquisite combination.

Overall, this film lives up to the experience I had with it when it first came out 24 years ago. Apparently it is exceedingly funny based on the reaction of many of those who were in the theater with me; I found it mildly amusing and not without it’s charms. It’s a silly movie that seems to have aged well, particularly the special effects. The actors know how to use gesture and posture to milk as many laughs as possible and the overall film benefits greatly from their expert comedic timing. It’s mostly designed to entertain and there isn’t that much depth to it; the film simply floats by without stimulating any serious thinking that might spoil the fun with over analyzation. Ultimately, the film continues to be interesting and hasn’t lost any of its punch.

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