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May 29th, 2017

Ghostbusters ****

I can barely remember it, but there was a time when summer movies were just regular films that happened to be released when it’s hot outside.

In the early 80s, not every summer movie was a big budget, star-studded special effects extravaganza that promised big action, big heroes, big explosions, and big laughs.

The success of “Ghostbusters” (1984) helped alter the future of summer entertainment.

“Ghostbusters” was the second highest grossing film of 1984 (“Beverly Hills Cop”). And it resonated with people of all ages.

I saw “Ghostbusters” in the theater when I was 7 years old and I loved it immediately.

I dressed up as a Ghostbuster for Halloween that fall – with a little vacuum cleaner on my back to look like a proton pack.

It must have been a memorable outfit because the next day I ran into a group of middle school girls (older women!) who saw me trick-or-treating and remembered my outfit. One of them called me her “little ghostbuster.” Naturally, I became a fan for life.

When my girlfriend wanted to go to the theater to see the 30th anniversary re-release of “Ghostbusters,” I was happy to take her.

“Ghostbusters” was written by co-stars Dan Aykroyd (Ray) and Harold Ramis (Egon). And it remains one of the most original and surprising comedies in cinema history.

Here’s a little “Ghostbusters” trivia: Dan Aykroyd originally planned to have his best friend, John Belushi, play the part of Peter Venkman.

It was sad for Mr. Aykroyd but happy for “Ghostbusters” fans that Bill Murray ended up filling the role after Belushi’s death. Murray’s skeptical, smart aleck attitude is the key to what makes the movie work for a wide audience.

On the face of it, “Ghostbusters” is too weird to be a mainstream hit.

It’s the story of three nerdy scientists who slowly uncover a plot by an ancient Sumerian demi-god to return to earth via a cosmically significant apartment building on Central Park North. The main villains of the movie are an overzealous EPA agent and a ten-story marshmallow.

Whenever the story is teetering on the edge of becoming too strange or sci-fi, Murray is there to reign it in. He always has a look on his face that says:

“Dan, Harold: I like you guys. But you realize that your ghost movie is ridiculous, right?”

The movie IS ridiculous. And it’s also wonderful. “Ghostbusters” is so great that it doomed us to thirty years of inferior summer action comedies.

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