A female-led Ghostbusters is now on the big screen. Mickey Noonan is nervous. The new cast is smashing, but why remake it at all when the 1984 original is such a cult classic?
My best mate is a patient man. We share similar music tastes, the same politics and irritation with idiots; we have the same silly sense of humour, and, despite my ability to fall for a dicksplash at 20 paces, he gently picks me up off the floor and helps put me back together again every time. He’s one of my favourite humans in the world. You should all get one.
Even a planes, trains and automobiles dash from New York to a pal’s wedding in Derbyshire with a hefty flight delay (due to “an electrical smell”) and no sleep for 40 hours led to nary a cross word.
My love of Ghostbusters though. That tried him.
I scampered down the New York Public Library steps imagining a ghost in hot pursuit. He took photos. I wandered around inside, excitedly checking pretty much every bookshelf for ectoplasm, or the kind of stacking no human being would do or, y’know, an old lady ghost. He took photos.
In the pouring rain, I posed outside the TriBeCa firehouse that plays the Ghostbusters HQ, a delighted shit-eating grin on my stupid face. He took photos. THEY LET ME IN. He took photos. It was when I demanded he go back across the street to retake a photo of me outside Hook & Ladder No. 8’s fire station because he’d missed the top of the building off, that he shot me a look that said, “Enough.” And rightly so.
In my defence, I’ve been besotted with Ghostbusters since I was seven. Thirty-two years on, it remains watchable, quotable, smart as paint and funny as fuck. Shit, it even still looks good (mostly).
The plot, for those who may have been living in a vacuum: three parapsychologists get chucked out of Columbia university for their money-wasting boondoggles and go on to fight a series of spooks, spectres and ghosts for cash, before saving New York from a 100ft marshmallow man summoned to destroy the city.
I’ve written before about the sheer balls-out genius of Bill Murray as Dr Peter Venkman and I stand by my claim that this is Murray’s film. He refuses to take anything seriously, deflating pomposity and science with pin-sharp snarks and a wisecrack for every occasion. His role might well have originally been written for John Belushi, but imagining Ghostbusters without Bill Murray is like imagining Jaws without a killer shark.
Getting the laughs in a special effects movie was a big deal back in 1984; Ghostbusters did what had previously been presumed impossible, mashing up blockbuster antics, pricey SFX and sly dialogue. Co-writer Harold Ramis (absolutely excellent as smartypants and collector of spores, moulds and fungus Egon Spengler) and director Ivan Reitman took Dan Aykroyd’s over-excitable original script (which Reitman estimated would have cost $300m to shoot, as opposed to the – still steep for the time – $30m they actually spent), trimmed and refined it and made the film that went on to be the biggest comedy of the 1980s.
Yes, it’s an absolute testosterone fest with only two real roles for women, but Sigourney Weaver is immense as Dana Barrett, and Annie Potts as Janine Melnitz, while underused here, gets to have more fun in Ghostbusters II (rated, since you ask).
Yes, the central romantic relationship between Murray and Weaver is as solid as a particularly flimsy wraith (and yes, it’s a bit creepy that, after he’s knocked her out because she’s Zuul-ed up and growling, he kisses her on her exposed collarbone. Bleugh), but the pair pure zing off each other – and who can resist a properly funny man, right?
Because it’s not really about the ghosts, which are mainly played for comic relief – seriously, the grin on Mr Stay Puft’s face as he rains down Armageddon is a delight. The maw of hell is in… a fridge. Slimer with a gob full of hotdogs = comedy gold. Even the shit-your-kecks-scary ghost in the library just wants to read her book in fucking peace.
No, the real joy of Ghostbusters is the chemistry between the unlikely heroes doing the busting: Egon is the brains, Ray the heart and Venkman the mouth – and later, Winston is the sceptic-turned-believer (“I’ve seen shit that’ll turn you white!”). And there’s an important life lesson in there for all of us. The power of friendship? Nah. “If someone asks you if you’re a god, you say, ‘Yes!’”
What did our film buff Yosra Osman make of the new Ghostbusters? Find out here.
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Aged five, Mickey Noonan shoved an apple pip up her nose to see what happened. Older, wiser but sadly without a nose-tree, Standard Issue's editor remains curious about the world. Likes running, jumping and static trapeze.