Day Five: Ghostbusters (1984) (MotM 2018)

ghostbusters 1

“You haven’t seen this until now?!?!?!”

Yes. I haven’t seen this until now.

In that vein, I’ve never really felt the need to see it until now. Ghostbusters to me, previous to just seeing it, was a goofy, formulaic comedy-adventure involving normal(-ish) guys running around with high-tech gadgets who have little idea of what they’re doing. And… I was right. It’s as I just said. Why is this considered a classic again?

This entry may ruffle some feathers, but I really don’t see the universal appeal of this film. Well, maybe I should rephrase that: I don’t see why people consider this to be a great movie. It’s simple and doesn’t take itself too seriously. I can see the appeal in that, but not so much the quality. Where’s the depth to this film? Where’s the thing that holds it together to give it a sense of belonging within cinematic lore? Perhaps it’s a good comedy (I didn’t laugh once), but how good? Perhaps it’s a good adventure film (I got bored near the last twenty minutes), but how good? Critics I’ve followed have thrown out the argument that it’s an incredibly subtle symbolic message of “The American Dream”/how corporatism always tends to trump the lower-class workers of society. Did I see any of that? Sure. Did I see why it mattered? Not entirely.

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This won’t be an onslaught of the film, for those thinking my overall impressions of the film after reading this far is incredibly negative. In truth, Ghostbusters is a passable film that is supported by that universal appeal, something that a lot of these “classics” seem to fall back on. No complicated narrative curmudgeon, no overt style or shtick; it’s charming in its goofiness, with likable characters to boot. Anyone can understand it. Anyone can hold onto the basic virtues the film represents as it goes on, while also poking fun at itself. It does what it needs to do with its formula and foundation to make an altogether amusing film. Should viewers want more than the minimum, they’re out of luck.

I believe that may be what made me so disappointed in Ghostbusters. The characters, while their base personalities and interactions are cute, don’t get much development or further evaluation. They seem a tad more one-note than I’d care for them to be, with Ray and Egon almost being the same character. I would’ve liked to have seen them interact more together outside of the Ghost-busting scenes, to establish a sense of camaraderie not only exclusive to needing each other to survive. I would’ve liked to have seen more of the strange relationship between Egon and the receptionist, any sort of outside life with Ray. Fuck, I would’ve liked to have seen more of Winston, period. This film does “okay” with basically every category, but never even attempts to push it to the next level.

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The atmosphere of the film is its biggest asset. The aloof nature gives it lenient criticism on the basis that it isn’t trying to be anything particularly grand—something both nice and not nice. It excuses a lot of incredibly basic logical fallacies, such as WHERE THE FUCK ARE THESE GUYS GETTING ALL THE RESOURCES FOR THESE GADGETS?! HOW DOES ANY OF THIS MAKE SENSE?! It’s a cinematic service of accepting things for what they are, so long as the subject winks and twirls its tongue at you in the process. Dark Knight on the other hand… Alright, let’s not get into that here.

The story structure is the most formulaic and safe path I’ve seen since… any straightforward film ever? Yet another aspect to its universal appeal is its accessibility. Nothing is far-fetched or hard to really understand. Things are painted so blatantly simple that any outside the demographic of children will be able to understand the, er, nuances of the means to plot progression. They get kicked down, they get back up, they soar to the heavens, then drop back down to earth, only to be labeled as heroes in the end through action. You know it, I know it. Neither of us have even seen the film and we know it. It’s just how it is.

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Overrated. Grossly so. The “classic” dub seems like an indicator of “This film is memorable” rather than “This film is good.” A crash course of what the term “classic” means in the artistic world may be in order, but one can justify its use as a multi-faceted tool: whether for cultural impact, staying power, quality, or what have you. Ghostbusters, to me, is a classic in the sense that it’s an above-average comedy adventure that made the paranormal seem fun and engaging. It’s impact on society (based on $$$$$$$$$$) proved more indicative of its worth as a product rather than as an experience or whatever else. For me, in most cases, this spells disaster, though this is one such case where it only made me wish to criticize the hype surrounding Ghostbusters and not the film itself. A fun, dumb movie. Nothing more.

Oh! You know what it is? It’s the theme song. It’s so god damn catchy that everyone remembers it for that.

Final Score: 6/10

The rating for all other films can be found at Letterboxd.

For more, check out the March of the Movies Archive!

4 thoughts on “Day Five: Ghostbusters (1984) (MotM 2018)

  1. I love it. Why? Because I was 8 when I saw it in the movies in the 80s. It’s my childhood and it is people like me who goes around screaming that it is a classic these days. Any grown person who doesn’t have a relationship with it like me (and most kids growing up in the 80s) can’t possibly see this as anything but what you have written above. I doubt I would think it was good today if I was it. This is also the reason why I haven’t seen the remake from 2016, because I don’t want to spoil my childhood memory of Ghost Busters. If that makes sense.

  2. It’s definitely the theme song. That and the really terrible game that came out for I think the Commodore 64 when I was a kid. Never beat the game, but sure had fun trying.

  3. For many people, it’s a perfect film. It’s an underdog story, but it’s crammed with unusual elements – things that make it stand out amid a sea of reboots and unoriginal ideas. Ackroyd and Ramis wrote a brilliant script, filled with witty dialogue. It isn’t laugh-out-loud funny, but it’s more droll, dead-eye humour, offset by brilliant visual imaginings and sound design. There aren’t many films like Ghostbusters. Its a kids film with adult-themed, racy humour and it still works. Bill Murray is the Han Solo of the piece, wryly mocking everything with a sarcastic, bored -of-it-all delivery. Its four schlubby guys, running around NYC chasing ghosts. It’s Ray Parker Jr. It’s the Ghostbusters symbol. Its the car. Its Slimer. It’s the Marshmallow Man. It’s “mass hysteria, dogs and cats living together”. It’s brilliant!

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