So Monday night was Halloween, and select theatres across the US and Canada had showings of Ghostbusters. Don't be surprised if you missed out. The showings were horribly advertised. The only reason I knew about them was because I listed Ghostbusers as one of my favorite things on Facebook. Really though, if they'd done even a little bit of print or TV advertising I'm sure they'd have filled those screenings.
Ah well, let's move on.
So my friend Jeff and I were watching the movie, and it hits me, everything that The Three Musketeers (which I reviewed here) did wrong, Ghostbusters did right.
Okay, so they are both very different films. Different genres, different settings, and so on, but at their core they are both ensemble stories. They are about groups of characters fighting towards a common goal. The Musketeers want to defeat Richelieu while the Ghostbusters want to defeat Gozer. So, while the candy coating may be different, the chocolaty inside is the same. (Yes, I'm writing this right after Halloween so candy metaphors are on my mind.)
So then, why does Ghostbusters remain a classic while the current version of The Three Musketeers have only a bargain bin fate in its future? As I said before, it does everything right!
First off, the characters a likeable. Peter Venkman is an asshole, unrepentant and over the top the entire movie. He's smarmy and hits on just about anything female with a pulse. But at the same time he's likable. You can see that under his exterior he actually does care about the guys he works with, and in the end he is a hero. He also has the best lines in the entire movie, such as "Back off man, I'm a scientist!"
Bill Murray does a great job of portraying Venkman. In fact, I doubt there is another actor living right now that could pull it off if they were ever to remake Ghostbusters.
The other thing Ghostbusters has going for it is that is succeeds despite its special effects, while the Three Musketeers failed because of its effects. The question today is not if it can be done, but rather if if should be done. Ghostbutsers used the limited effects of its time to great effect, giving some really funny and creepy moments. For instance, the eggs cooking on the countertop. It's creepy and understated, and works perfectly. If that scene had been done nowadays probably the eggs would have hatch and demon chickens would have gone flying around the room. Impressive, but much less creepy and it would have altered the overall feel of the film.
The only thing that could have been improved in Ghostbusters using today's effects would be the creature scenes where the two demon dogs run around. It's obvious when they are puppets and when they are stop motion creatures. If they decide to release a thirtieth anniversary print of the film this is the only thing I'd recommend changing.
In conclusion, my friend and I had a blast watching Ghostbusters, and I hope more classic movies find their way back to the big screen for special showings. They just need to be advertised better.