Saturday, June 07, 2014

Penny Thoughts ‘14—Ghostbusters (1984) ***½

PG, 105 min.
Director: Ivan Reitman
Writers: Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis
Starring: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Sigourney Weaver, Rick Moranis, Annie Potts, William Atherton, Ernie Hudson

30 years ago today “Ghost Busters”—it’s two words on the title card—opened in theaters and became not just a movie, but a cultural reference, as many 80s films seemed to do. You don’t see individual movies become such a phenomenon anymore. Even the Marvel Universe movies became what they are as a group of films rather than individuals. “Ghostbusters” had a life of its own.

The movie isn’t absolutely amazing or anything, but it is damn good for the silly thing it’s trying to be. It’s a comedy about a group of guys who catch ghosts for a living. That’s not a premise that you’d expect to continue to resonate 30 years down the road on anything more than a cult level. But “Ghostbusters” seems to be a universally beloved movie, and with some of the dialogue written by its stars Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, I suppose it isn’t that surprising after all.

One line that always gets me is squirreled in there subtly in the opening moments in such a way that it’s easy to miss. The team is investigating their first supernatural phenomenon in the New York Library and Aykroyd says, “Listen. Do you smell something?” Again, it’s just a silly little throwaway line, but I think it gets at the heart of the simplicity that makes this comedy so appealing over the decades.

Tonight, there are plans for millions of fans of the movie to press play on their home video versions of the movie at the same time and experience the movie 30 years after its original release date. In August it will be rereleased in theaters, and they say the long awaited third film is finally happening. I suppose we’ll be going through all of this again next year with “Back to the Future”. If this much frenzy isn’t whipped up about it, at least we’ll be able to rest easy knowing that all of those Facebook memes about it being the date they went to in the future will finally have the year right.

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