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If you make a comedy that hits literally all the right beats, you've got a hit on your hands. If your comedy is still funny 10 years after its theatrical release, you know you did something right. But if your comedy is still hysterical after 30 years, and after multiple viewings, you have to have worshiped satan or something when you made your movie. But alas, Ghostbusters is still a hilarious riot 31 years after being released, and I'm pretty sure Ivan Reitman isn't a satanist. Well, he might be. I have no way of proving he's not. But let's just say he isn't.
For the rare few of you out there who haven't had the pleasure of witnessing this classic, I'll run down the plot for you. We follow the story of three scientists, Peter (Bill Murray), Raymond (Dan Aykroyd) and Egon (Harold Ramis). After they're sacked from their previous jobs, the three decide to start up a company in which they seek out supernatural forces and, for lack of a better word, arrest them. Sort of. They're the ghostbusters, and their team soon expands to four with the addition of a man named Wintson (Ernie Hudson), everyone's least favourite ghostbuster. They're approached by Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver), a woman with a possessed fridge. What exactly is in the fridge? Why, it's only another dimension, and it's in this dimension that some of the most powerful evils in the universe rest.
Ghostbusters opens in a library. We see a librarian walking around the basement, sorting through books. The mood is perfect for a horror movie. Things start moving on their own, cards are flung up into the air, books fly from shelf to shelf, and then a mysterious off-screen figure appears, the librarian bursting into a scream and the Ghostbusters logo flying in. The scene is legitimately tense, the way Reitman moves the camera is genius, but it has a certain tongue in cheek approach to it. It works.
We catch up with the aftermath of this scene about five minutes later. Our three protagonists are investigating the area and it's utterly brilliant. After a set up to what could actually be a frightening horror movie, we're given a scene involving slime, panic, period jokes, yelling and a ghost who never gets *ahem* busted. If you're not sold on this movie after watching the opening ten minutes, I don't think anything can sell you on this masterpiece. It's just a taste of what's to come, yet it does so much. We understand who these characters are, how they act and their relationship with one another, and it's all shown through one of the funniest and most entertaining scenes in the entire film.
I'm a big fan of Bill Murray as an actor, a comedian and a human being, and in Ghostbusters, he's never been better. This may not be his best movie, although it's certainly top 3 material, but I would argue it's his best role. Why? Because Murray is just in his element the entire time. Improvising most of his lines, yet never forcing a single one of them, Murray truly deserves a round of applause. Improvising is hard, and as evident by most modern comedies it clearly doesn't always work out, but in Ghostbusters the jokes work so well that you'll have a hard time believing that none of them were written months in advance.
But Bill Murray can't take all the credit. Without his co-stars, in particular Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, this film wouldn't be able to stand. It would come tumbling down. Fast. The three leads bounce off of each other with ease, spitting insults and sarcasm all the way until the closing credits. As the film's runtime flies on by, the film gradually becomes more and more quotable, until the eventual finale involving a Godzilla-sized stay puft marshmallow man, and it's brilliant. And who could forget their loud mouthed assistatant, played by Annie Potts? Everyone in this film is comedy gold.
It's not often that everything in a movie just comes together perfectly, yet in Ghostbusters it does. All the jokes work. All the performances are incredible. The theme song is still being sung today. The runtime is just right. There's some actually tense moments. Sure, the visual effects look dated now, but we're talking about a film that came out in 1984, and it has a giant marshmallow man that still looks realistic. So what if some of the demon creatures aren't up to today's standards? This film is incredible and I love every second of it.
To sum up, Ghostbusters still manages to be hilarious 31 years later. It's witty, charming, original, has a killer theme song, some great performances and just hits all the right beats. If you haven't seen this movie, you're seriously missing out.