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Monday, February 24, 2014

Ghostbusters Review: A Tribute to Harold Ramis

Ghostbusters is still an important film for me. It was easily my favorite childhood movie and is still one of my favorite comedy movies of all time. It's quite funny how this movie actually scared me when I was really young and then when I was nine I decided to face my fears and watched it another time. What happened was that I experienced so much laughter in that one sitting and then it became my most watched film. I didn't care when it was on, I would watch it right away. Even if I missed half of the film or even the whole film, I would stop whatever I was doing and watched Ghostbusters. I can also say the same for the sequel even though the original is vastly superior. Now that it has been over ten years since I found my love for the film I can still say it's easily in my top five of favorite films. There are mostly personal reasons why I put it there like how much it influenced my childhood, but again it's easily one of the best comedies I have seen and still to this day I can laugh by watching it. Ghostbusters still has my favorite cast of all time with great actors like the amazing Bill Murray who is still my all time favorite actor, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Rick Moranis, Erine Hudson, and the legendary comedy writer, director, and actor, Harold Ramis. I love witty humor and this man was a genius with that style of humor. Even if he has some bad films, everyone has one here and there, but there are many of his films and series that I loved. Groundhog Day, Stripes, Caddyshack, Animal House, one hundred and forty episodes of The Real Ghost Busters, and directing for the whole series of The Office, there is no doubt Ramis left a big impact on the entertainment world.
So with the review, Ghostbusters is about three men who had an interest in the paranormal, well except for Peter Venkman, but a scientist he was though. The three get called up about actual paranormal activity happening at the library and to their shock it's an actual ghost. The three try to make contact with the being, but they fail as Ray's plan was to jump it. The ghost scares them off and when returning back to the college campus they find out they are being kicked out and cannot continue their studies on the campus. Venkman has an idea though as now ghosts are actually real now it's time to make a business and hence the Ghostbusters were formed. They find an old building and fix it up to use as their office and business was dead. Luckily they got one customer named Dana who seems to be having strange things happen in her house like eggs cooking themselves on the kitchen counter and beasts living in her refrigerator yelling out "Zuul." Venkman takes her offer as she was their first customer even though it doesn't seem much isn't happening at her apartment anymore. With that they got paid in advance, but their hope is still down in the dumps. They finally get one call about a ghost as the three men quickly gear up and head off to the hotel to bust their first ghost. After that the Ghostbutsers were quickly becoming celebrities and round up more and more ghosts. What they don't know though is that Dana's case has a connection to the end of the world!
Who doesn't love Slimer?
I'm not going to do pros and cons like my usual reviews as I'm going to look at the biggest elements of the film and go on about those in the upcoming paragraphs. The first thing to mention is the comedy of Ghostbusters and with Harold Ramis and Aykrod doing the writing you know there is already going to be comedy gold here. There are so many quotable lines in this movie like mine being "Dogs and Cats living together, mass hysteria!" Then there are the fan favorite quotes like "That's a big Twinkie," to "I look at the trap Ray," "Mother puss bucket," "He slimed me," or another favorite of mine, "Ray, when someone asks you if you're a god, you say YES!" Everyone does great in this movie and delivers the lines with perfect timing. Easily the best actor is Bill Murray as his character Venkman is the most carefree person around. What's his first reaction to seeing a ghost, he tries to see if his flirting magic would work on it. There are even many sight gags with that character as many are serious about working and then you just see Venkman walking or sliding down on the pole with Chinese food. Reminding me of that, Venkman isn't the only great character in this film as they are also supported by great actors.
Harold Ramis' character is Professor Egon and when it comes to everyone's favorite buster, it's Venkman or Egon. Venkman easily has the best lines of the film, but Egon is the smartest one and even though Venkman is the more comedic character Egon carries a lot of wit with him. The man is a genius when it comes to ghosts as he is brainy guy, but with not a lot of brawn. I love the scene where Egon is just going crazy with his stream even though Slimer got away from him; he still continued to zap that bar down. Another thing that happens with Egon is that he gets some ironic timing comedy or sometimes he can be oblivious which brings up some great joke timing. Easily Egon's best scene is where he is telling Ray and Winston about a giant entity appearing as he uses a Twinkee as an example. Dan Aykroid plays the incredibly shy and bumbling man, Ray and he is smart like Egon and does hold some great technology with him, he can stumble around. The best example of this is where he tells Gozer that he wasn't a god, or the time he accidentally had the Stay Puft Marshmallow man attack the city of New York. Erine Hudson didn't have a major role in the first film to make up for that though he quickly got some great lines and moments. My favorite moment is at the end of the film where he is covered in marshmallow fluff and screams out "I love this town!" Along with them are two other actors like Weaver and Moranis. Weaver plays Dana who is the damsel in distress of the film as Venkman tries to use his magic on her. Even she gets some funny moments when Zuul possess her and keep asking for the Keymaster. Moranis plays the scrawny and desperate Vincent who loves Dana and does try to get her in his life and even he gets involved the whole issue. There is even another great performance from William Atherton as Walter Peck who tries to shut down the Ghostbusters because they have many violations like environmental safety rules. Again the cast was amazingly strong and even though the movie is heavily a comedy it can still hold up more than just that.
For a comedy movie this is easily one of the first big films to use some aspect of horror in them, now this isn't a scary movie at all, but it does use the aspects of horror by mostly making fun of them. Slimer is easily a joke to ghosts themselves as he was barely a threat whatsoever and yet caused so much mischief for the team. With the idea of ghosts and there had to be some special effects and this was 1984 and for the time they were great effects. There was a mixture of special and practical effects. There is an actual Slimer suit that was used and most of the effects when to putting him into the scenes and making him being transparent. There is even the famous Stay Puft Marshmallow as they used a similar technique to the Godzilla films by having a man in the suit roam in a tiny model of the city. Then just have it appear in far away shots and giving it some facial gestures both with an actual head piece or made with special effects and you got one of the most famous movie monsters. There was even full on suits for the Gatekeeper and the Keymaster as they are two Hell Hounds pretty much even though most of their running or walking is done by animation. Then there are the beams from the Proton Packs and other visuals with waves or beams. Personally I still love the look of them they are heavily bright and makes them seem powerful which makes sense of a nuclear powered weapon! So even though the film is from the 80's the effects I still find are strong to this day and still top some of the CGI in modern films and having practical effects as well make it a surprisingly technical achievement.
Even to this day I see no negatives to this film as it brings ghosts into one of the best comedies I have ever seen. Ghostbusters also still has many achievements in the movie business and still lives on with the many fans. I am easily one of those fans who loved the film since I was young and it easily shown me that different genres can work well together. If there is good writing and a strong cast of actors you can have an amazing film and Ghostbusters show that. I give the movie an A+ as it is still my favorite film from the 80's and one of the best movies of all time in my opinion. The last thing to say is a very big thank you to the cast of the film and most of all to Harold Ramis who did much more after this film and even continued Ghostbusters with the animated series, the video game, and the possible third movie. Harold you were a big icon of comedy and that will never be taken from you, rest in peace you amazing genius.

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