In 1984 the world welcomed two major additions to American comedy. The first would obviously be my birth, which occurred one cool Spring evening. A few months later the world was introduced to Ivan Reitman’s masterpiece, Ghostbusters. This year of our Lord and Savior Jesus Cristo 2009 finds itself to be the 25th Anniversaries of both such occasions. Unlike many, many, many of the posts before this I am not here to write about myself – I am here to discuss the joy of Ghostbusters.
Ghostbusters was released on June 8, 1984 to record setting box office returns and is currently the 31st highest-grossing film of all time. It is touted by many critics as one of the best comedies ever made. If you have not seen it, you have something wrong with you and you should do something about it! Go watch it. Right now. Don’t even bother coming back if you don’t know the correct answer when asked whether or not you are a god.
Are you troubled by strange noises in the middle of the night? Do you experience feelings of dread in your basement or attic? Have you or your family ever seen a spook, specter or ghost?
I cannot quite describe the magic that is Ghostbusters, but I am going to try. As a child I watched the movie well over 100 times. I had to watch it at least once a month, though often times it was more frequent than that. Not only have I never tired of the movie, but when I watch it today I still notice something new. There are layers upon layers in the movie. First we have a light-hearted comedy about a few guys trying to carve a niche for themselves, but then get in way over their heads. We peel back that layer to find a story about the supernatural, full of ghouls and old gods. The comedy seamlessly transitions into the more serious portions, but at no point does the movie begin to take itself too seriously.
Well, this is great. If the ionization-rate is constant for all ectoplasmic entities, we can really bust some heads… in a spiritual sense, of course.
What is interesting about Ghostbusters is that typically in a movie about ghosts and hauntings, the audience finds themselves inundated with religion, the Power of Christ, exorcisms, or magic trinkets that ward off evil spirits. Not here. The Boys in Gray never stop looking at things from scientific point of view. When a 100-foot-tall deity begins stomping through downtown New York City, aiming to mash the ‘Busters into paste, they never once call out to a higher power. Instead they calmly state that they are “terrified beyond the capacity for rational thought” and then they make a plan that will either A) save the day or B) destroy all life as we know it.
Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light.
One of the other aspects that amazes me about Ghostbusters is that, much like myself, it was all one big happy accident. The stars must have been perfectly aligned with Gozer’s interdimensional gateway because no amount of planning could ever recreate a film like it. When Dan Aykroyd envisioned the original concept for the film, it was much different. Aykroyd pictured competing teams of Ghostbusters from the future, who traveled through time to fight supernatural monsters. The film was mostly a vehicle for John Belushi, but then he died. When Aykroyd presented the idea to director Ivan Reitman, he liked the concept but knew Aykroyd’s idea would be too costly, so he suggested setting it in the present. Reitman toss the idea to Harold Ramis, who helped hammer out a script and kept it a little more down to Earth.
We have the tools, and we have the talent.
Now Ghostbusters had a script, but all the characters were pretty identical. Thankfully, Bill Murray stepped in as Peter Venkman, injecting the character with a bold sense of sarcasm and some wonderfully improvised dialog. A few other big actors were asked to join the cast (such as Eddie Murphy and John Candy), but they backed out for various reasons. While this seems like it could have caused an upset, it left us with the everyman Winston Zeddemore and the lovably nerdy Louis Tully we know today. Harold Ramis stepped out from behind his writing desk to take on the roll of Egon Spangler, which he played to deadpan perfection.
Well, let’s say this Twinkie represents the normal amount of psychokinetic energy in the New York area. Based on this morning’s reading, it would be a Twinkie thirty-five feet long, weighing approximately six hundred pounds.
I realize I may have just overloaded many of you. For that, I apologize. It’s hard to write so little about something I have enjoyed for almost as long as I have been alive. What I was trying to get across is that it was a very well done movie and it came out that way through the talent of many people. It then went on to have an impact on my life.
We came, we saw, we’ve kick its ass.
On the next page, I am going to get a little more personal and talk about a few of the ways ‘Busting made me feel good.
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