A Pop-Culture Treasure But An Underwhelming Feature: Ghostbusters

A film that I cannot understand that has stood the test of time and penetrated the competitive world of pop-culture, standing alongside such masterpieces like Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Superman, Jaws; I apologise for the John Williams connection in my examples, they were the first films that came to mind. Ghostbusters is far from an awful film, but it isn’t particularly stellar; it provides the audience with a story that is far less stimulating than the examples I have listed; except for Superman, but that is simply a personal choice.


Everybody knows the theme, a catchline and melody that has been parodied and referenced abundantly in the cinematic and television realm, leaving one feeling deeply guilty for not having seen the source material before actually utilising it in my daily life; but now that I have seen the film for its second time, I am confident to state that this was an underwhelming feature that actually had potential within the cracks of its almost mindless veneer. Ghostbusters is a film that no doubt would find appreciation from a mindset of a youthful and playful individual, one who could sit through a film and not fall into deep dissection and analysis. Ghostbusters is a film that carries its power through nostalgia, supported and protected from decay through its position in the world of pop-culture.

Ghostbusters finds its story carried by three individual, all are scientists under a university grant that hopes to provide ground-breaking results, from a field that is ridiculed by its peers; although all three would appreciate the idea of optimistic results, one of whom the wise-cracking and opportunistic Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) has lost the dedication that once drove him to such a field, undertaking worthless trials that reaches for self-rewarding goals. Raymond Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) and Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) remain hard at work, progressing their developments that reaches them closer to their ultimate goal; to prove the existence of, to put it loosely, ghosts.


After their sacking from the university and the cutting of their funds, they find alternative methods of maintaining their finance, as the breakthrough in the New York Public Library has motivated them into becoming business venturers, ghost exterminators and hunters to be specific. Along the way, they find fame and fortune; and stepping through their company doors is Dana Barrett, whom which contains a ghost related issue within her penthouse and has won the attention and affection from Venkman.

What the film sorely lacks is tension and challenge for its three protagonists; it is clear from the start that its conflict should arise in their need to be successful and win the respect of a field that once easily dismissed them as they were on the brink of glory. Once they enter into a capitalist venue, they seem to forget what pushed them in this position in the first place, coming off as sell-outs without any ounce that would remain them redeemable in the field of science, except for the fact that there are supernatural figures roaming around the city. If the film’s mindless approach isn’t going to take an inspired approach like for example Raiders of the Lost Ark, then it should opt for something with growth to provide for its characters, an origin tale that allows us to deeply care for their intention and adding weight to their seemingly superficial adventure. This is a film that bases itself around its premise too tightly that it has nothing else to offer, even in the sense of fun that is injected into its special effects, they feel empty, especially through retrospect, when the story itself fails to deliver.

Despite its issues, I cannot completely fall into the hateful category, as there are spouts of comedy that does had me push out a chuckle, which oddly feels lacking for a film that dances around its ambitious concept. I also found the fourth member of the crew to be particularly interesting, and is placed in a position that actually allows growth; a figure who simply entered into the game through desperation and only with intending to make a living, has found himself somewhat of a believer after the events that has transpired. And let us not forget the film’s excellent theme song, that hits quite hard on your nerves whenever it lets itself be heard, achieving a sense of nostalgia despite the fact that I have only been introduced to the film as of recently.


The film falls short in many of its potential aspects, and yet it remains strong within the minds and hearts of contemporary culture, leaving many in anticipation, or anger, of the idea that is coming ahead; an all-female leading cast of the same title. I for one cannot appreciate, let alone understand, the stature it has built around itself and its resilience through the cruel nature of time. Then again, this isn’t the first time I have felt over such cherished classics.


5 thoughts on “A Pop-Culture Treasure But An Underwhelming Feature: Ghostbusters

  1. I just watched this for the first time, and I arrived at this page as by a web search for “ghostbusters underwhelming”. So yeah, it’s not just you.

    I suppose that in my case, the cultural osmosis can partly be blamed for raising my expectations while simultaneously spoiling most of the jokes. But in the end, the film is just not consistently funny or engaging. I would probably appreciate it a lot more if it had the status of “cult classic” like Buckaroo Bonzai, a movie I would consider just about exactly as good as this one.


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