NOTE: This review of Ghostbusters was published back in August 2014 in conjunction with the theatrical re-release celebrating its 30th anniversary.
Much to my dismay and disappointment, I am usually never able to catch films that are re-released into theaters on account of an anniversary or a 3D upgrade. This is mainly because so many films often come out the same weekend as the re-releases to, leaving me strapped to make the decision to rewatch an old favorite in theaters or seek out and review the new releases, the ones people want to read reviews of. As somebody who watches anywhere from forty to sixty films a month, I need to choose wisely, and never, until now, have I chosen a re-released film over a new release.
This all changed when an unsurprisingly slow film weekend in August revealed the thirtieth anniversary release of the 1984 classic fantasy-comedy Ghostbusters in about seven-hundred theaters in the United States. In a time where some of the strangest, most unremarkable releases come out of the woodwork in American cinema, Ghostbusters seemed like a perfect break from the drudgery of blockbusters, under-impressive sequels, under-performing risks, and so forth. Even as I sat back to watch one of the funniest and most original comedies of the 1980’s on the big screen, I felt like I was taking a mini-vacation from this gig I call my side-job/passion.
I doubt Ghostbusters needs more than a brief plot summation, but the film concerns Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Raymond Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) and Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis), three misfits interested in the idea of supernatural forces and paranormal activity. The three men find themselves caught up in a whirlwind of popularity after being called to The New York Public Library to take down a ghost that has been haunting the library for sometime now, and following their success at identifying and capturing the being, the three decide to open up their own business as professional Ghostbusters, working with the city of New York to stop paranormal forces dead in their tracks. They are soon approached by Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson), to function as their fourth member, and attach themselves to Dana Barrett’s (Sigourney Weaver) specific case, which concerns her apartment complex being overtaken by the demonic spirit known as Zuul, who’s spirits are worshiped by Gozer the Gozerian, the God of Destruction.
At first thought, the film sounds overstuffed and complicated, but as anyone familiar with the film knows, it’s anything but. This is mainly because it would appear writers Aykroyd and Ramis bear the similar attitude about the entire project as the character Peter Venkman, sarcastic, lax, and carefree. This sounds like a criticism, but the fact that Ghostbusters bears such a collective and relaxed aura about its story and its characters never makes the film fall prey to any confusing subplots or technological jargon. It can be sarcastic, it can be smug, and it can be just plain silly, but all of the above reasons, and the fact that the idea is executed to the fullest extent, are the reasons this film is so loved and cherished, albeit worthy of a thirtieth anniversary re-release.
Being that there’s little to critique, as most comments have already been made and mine will sound very much like a reiteration of old reviews, one must comment on the joy of seeing a re-released film on the big screen. For starters, Ghostbusters has a great deal of elements that make it worthy of a big screen viewing. From the montage of catching ghosts, to the actual, developed scenes where catching Slimer is the gang’s main objective, to witnessing the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man come to life on screen all compliment the inherent largeness of a theater screen wonderfully. Combine all of those elements with the terrific sound editing and elaborate special effects, which still look pretty good thirty years later, and there is an arguable reason to make a trip to the theater to see Ghostbusters.
Then there’s Ray Parker, Jr.’s infectious theme song, which brings a smile to a nostalgic face, especially when heard through the expensive, surround-sound speakers of a theater. It’s this song that is the bow to the entire experience of seeing Ghostbusters alive on screen again. If the joy of seeing Murray, Aykroyd, Ramis, and Hudson interact and exchange the same classic, witty banter we can all quote flawlessly isn’t enough for you, Ray Parker, Jr.’s theme song will surely place the icing on the timeless cake.
Being that this is a different review than usual, I’ll end the review not necessarily recommending the movie (you should know by now if you are or are not a fan of Ghostbusters) but recommending the experience to anyone who has yet to witness the phenomenon on a theater screen. The entire experience could make a wonderful introduction to classic, eighties films for the new generation, and for once feels like a genuine appreciation of the classic film without unnecessary upgrades in the third-dimension.
Starring: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Rick Moranis, and Sigourney Weaver. Directed by: Ivan Reitman.
Steve Pulaski has been reviewing movies since 2009 for a barrage of different outlets. He graduated North Central College in 2018 and currently works as an on-air radio personality in North Central Illinois. He also hosts a weekly movie podcast called "Sleepless with Steve," dedicated to film and the film industry, on his YouTube channel. In addition to writing, he's a die-hard Chicago Bears fan and has two cats, appropriately named Siskel and Ebert!