There have been quite a few film franchises that have become iconic parts of pop culture history like ‘Star Wars’, ‘Batman’, and ‘Harry Potter’. And easily one of the most famous franchises of all time has to be ‘Ghostbusters’, which got its start in 1984 with the film of the same name. Directed by Ivan Reitman and written by Harold Ramis and Dan Aykroyd, who both starred in the film along with Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, and Ernie Hudson, the film, centered on a trio of parapsychologists who set up a ghost-catching business after being dismissed from their university, became a major critical and commercial success when it was released. It has since spawned a huge multimedia franchise that includes a 1989 sequel, two animated series (1986’s ‘The Real Ghostbusters’ and 1997’s ‘Extreme Ghostbusters’, the latter of which was a spin-off of the first show), and much more. A third film has been in and out of development for the past few years now but with the recent passing of Harold Ramis along with reports that Bill Murray isn’t that interested in returning, it doesn’t really look like we’ll ever get an ‘official sequel’. So because of that, recent reports say that director Paul Feig (‘Bridesmaids’, ‘The Heat’) will instead be helming a ‘reboot’ of the series with a female-led cast. It’ll be interesting to see how that turns out if it does get made but for now, in honor of the first film’s 30th anniversary, it’s time to look back upon the two ‘Ghostbusters’ films and for the record, just those two films. This post will not include reviews of the two animated series, simply because I didn’t watch either of them as a kid. So now with that out of the way, here are my reviews of ‘Ghostbusters’ and ‘Ghostbusters 2’.
Really, what more can be said about the first ‘Ghostbusters’ film? It’s an undeniable comedic classic; a film that blends its comedy with a wide array of zany visuals and it is done to great results. It’s highly quotable with great lines like ‘Dogs and Cats living together, Mass Hysteria!’ or ‘That’s a Big Twinkie’ and of course there’s much more. This is one of those comedies that isn’t afraid to get a little ‘mature’ at times when it comes to its humor. Case in point, Bill Murray. While Aykroyd and Ramis’ dialogue mostly consists of them spewing science jargon and, as Star Trek fans like to put it, ‘techno-babble’, a lot of Murray’s dialogue is more than likely going to fly over the heads of young viewers. But when you’re older, you’re going to understand it a lot more. This film came out a month before the PG-13 rating was introduced by the MPAA, and while it isn’t as ‘violent’ or ‘disturbing’ as something like ‘Temple of Doom’ or ‘Poltergeist’, this film is still a prime example of how back then filmmakers could get away with a lot more stuff in PG films than they do nowadays. I mean when you really think about it, this is a very bizarre premise but this film joyfully goes with it resulting in a highly entertaining film with a great cast, excellent writing, and fun visuals. Simply put, when there’s something strange in your neighborhood, you know who to call.
GHOSTBUSTERS 2 (1989)
Like with pretty much almost every sequel that has ever come out, ‘Ghostbusters 2’ is generally considered by many to be ‘inferior’ to the first film and while I do agree that it isn’t as good as the first film, keep in mind how great of a film this one is supposed to follow up on; talk about an incredibly tough act to follow. So with that said, why is this one not as good as its predecessor? According to the Rotten Tomatoes consensus, it is because it ‘lacks the charm, wit, and energy’ that the first film had. However, I don’t entirely agree with that statement. Because while I can sort of see what they’re getting at, I don’t think that the film is entirely devoid of those aforementioned qualities… far from it, in fact. The cast still has phenomenal camaraderie, there are still plenty of lines that are highly quotable (‘Sometimes, s*** happens, someone has to deal with it, and who you gonna call?’), and there are still some pretty fun visuals, like during the finale when the Ghostbusters travel through the city of New York while piloting the Statue of Liberty. It’s true that maybe the film doesn’t have the exact same amount of charm, wit, and energy as its predecessor had but still, it’s not like it’s not there. It still very much feels like a ‘Ghostbusters’ film through and through.
Really, the main problem with the film is something that occurs with a lot of sequels; it rehashes a lot of the same beats from the first film in terms of its plot like how the Ghostbusters at one point have to visit the mayor when they get into trouble with the law or how they start off having to work to become popular again with the citizens in New York as this film takes place five years after the events of the first film as their popularity has started to dwindle. I do kind of like the idea of the Ghostbusters having to get back into the swing of things having been out of the business for a while but overall there’s not much in this film that is different from the first film save for it having different plot-points, like the River of Slime, the main villain Vigo, and for introducing Dana Barrett’s baby as a plot-point. Regardless of this, I still think that ‘Ghostbusters II’ is actually a pretty underrated sequel. Sure, it’s still not as good as the original, mainly because it copies a lot from that film. Still, I disagree with the notion that it is completely devoid of the ‘charm, wit, and energy’ that made the first film so great because it’s still here, just maybe not as much as in the first film. However, I do feel that this film deserves a second chance because it still a very entertaining film even if it doesn’t fully live up to the status of its predecessor.
Before I end this post, if you ever have the chance, I recommend you check out the location tour video, ‘Follow that Marshmallow: A Ghostbusters Tour’ produced by James Rolfe AKA The Angry Video Game Nerd. It’s a really nice location video showcasing a lot of the locations in New York that were featured in both movies and it’s pretty cool to see that the filmmakers made a real effort to be as geographically correct as possible. What I mean is that a lot of the locations in the film aren’t too far apart from one another meaning that the routes that the characters take in the film are accurate to the real-life layout of New York. I’ll provide the link to the video below for your viewing pleasure.