Written by: Dan Aykroyd & Harold Ramis
Starring: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Harold Ramis, Rick Moranis
Maximizing profits from a service rendered has remained the benchmark of our capitalist society, which only gets better if you’re the only one in competition. Quite the place the protagonists of Ghostbusters find themselves in, even if their line of work deals with some precarious vermin. Even with its long-lasting legacy and adoration, no matter how many times I try, this film’s charm seemingly eludes me at every turn.
Thrown off their university and no grant money, trio of scientists, Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), and Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) decide to take their pursuit of paranormal life and make money from it. Now a phone call away they will arrive at your door ready to take out any ghosts seeking to bother families all across New York.
Reader, when I tell you I have tried my hardest to like this film, I say it with all earnestness. Ghostbusters has played before my eyes on three occasions in the hopes of finally breaking through and appreciating the praise people heap upon it. This film has received more views than many of my “5/5” films and I refuse to watch it again for the simple fact that this film’s comedy falls flat on its face on many occasions and the story overall just does not carry any real captivating ideas. Several times I’ve seen these somewhat well-constructed jokes just land like a wet fart in the wind because the delivery just did not come to par.
This film certainly has things to appreciate, which comes from the screenplay’s complete neglect of explaining any of the science involved in their line of work. The characters just throw out lingo and terminology with no intention of ever truly explaining it. You have to respect the insistence to where you just sit back and go on for the ride. However, the charm does not last for long because there needs to be some semblance of logic with what occurs in this feature. Questions arise about these ghosts and what they specifically represent in this story. At first, they come presented as vermin these ghostbusters must come and take care of much like an exterminator. The suits even give off that very vibe. However, the film then jumps to different bases and where it really loses me comes from a sequence where a ghost gives Ray fellatio. No context nor anything to follow up the scene, it just gets thrown in with the montage of them being called and catching ghosts. A scene so out of place with everything else calls into question what exactly this film wants to be about, which is truly the negativity of government intervention.
While the ghosts appear as adversaries, the main one comes in the form of government control. With the ghostbusters raking in cash from their service, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) comes snooping around and asks legitimate questions of what the ghostbusters are doing. Questions like how these ghosts remain contained and what nuclear nonsense they have on their backpacks for the purpose of catching these ghosts. I understand the movie does not want you to care for these deeper questions but when the antagonist of the feature genuinely begins asking them for genuine reasons, it raises some red flags about the purpose of this story. Yes, these men had entrepreneurial spirit, but there needs to be checks and balances to how people can harness such dangerous things without any sort of oversight.
Battling the ghosts brings some level of entertainment, but it comes in service of the eventual revelation of this big bad guy who wants to come to the Earth dimension to do…something. This villain gets brought together for arbitrary reasons and the end results come with a major whimper with no thematic or comedic substance. I continue to miss what makes this so beloved.
Even upon multiple rewatches trying to crack this movie’s code, I must come to the conclusion that Ghostbusters is simply not for me. It has the worst of Bill Murray at his least charming, filled to the brim with unfunny jokes, and a premise only getting more unbearable as it goes along. Thinking its simplicity was its strength this feature feels incredibly thin in plot and does not have the comedy or interesting characters to make up for it.