Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Movie and DVD Reviews: The best and not-so-best movies available on DVD, and whatever else catches my eye.

Mimsy Review: Ghostbusters

Reviewed by Jerry Stratton, July 10, 1999

Back off man, I’m a scientist.

Special features

Art Of3
Commentary Track5
Deleted Scenes5
Making Of5
Photo Gallery4
Related Trailers7
Special Effects Notes5
Storyboards6
Trailer5

This is a very funny movie, and a very nice DVD. Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Bill Murray, and later Ernie Hudson kick ghost ass as New York City has supernatural troubles of “biblical proportions”.

RecommendationPurchase
DirectorIvan Reitman
WritersDan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Rick Moranis
Movie Rating7
Transfer Quality7
Overall Rating7
Formats
  • Enhanced Widescreen

One of the very few movies I’ve purchased on VHS, Ghostbusters is just plain funny no matter how many times I see it. This movie really benefits from being seen in widescreen. There are a number of shots that appear as if they have more information than I recall. Previous to this, I’d only seen it on chopped VHS. I gave the VHS copy to a friend, so I can’t check to be sure, but Harold Ramis said the same thing during the director’s commentary. He commented that it was good that we got the DVD version because, with four ghostbusters, he often got cut out in the pan and scan version.

The commentary track is very interesting, although like most it starts out slow. There are actually two commentary tracks, one spoken and a different one ‘subtitled’. The spoken commentary has the option of putting the silhouettes of the speakers (Harold Ramis, Ivan Reitman, and somebody else) at the bottom of the movie. They were actually watching the movie in a similar ratio to how we see them, for when they point to something on screen, they’re pointing to what they meant to point to. That’s a good touch. The subtitled commentary is interesting but hard to follow. Sentences are broken up, making it difficult to follow both the movie and the commentary.

The deleted scenes are mostly obvious why they were deleted. One good thing about them is that they start and end in scenes that were not deleted, making it much easier to see where this deleted scene was meant to take place.

The ‘menu’ looks cool at first, but is marred by a very short loop and poor feedback on menu choice. And, despite there being about five places to choose from on the main menu, most of them seem to contain almost, but not quite exactly, the same information. I keep finding new items on the DVD because each menu is slightly, but not quite, exactly different from the other menus.

There is a good discussion of the special effects in the film, including three scenes with a “before and after” angle. You can switch between the “pre-SFX” and the “post-SFX” version of the scene using the “angle” button on your DVD player’s remote. It’s kind of cool watching the Ghostbusters working hard shooting their nuclear accelerators and nothing coming out! That must be hard work to do right.

The production photos are cool, but too small. Too much of the screen on the edges is taken up by the menus, leaving little space for the photos themselves.

Kudos to Columbia for letting us fast forward over the FBI and Interpol warning.

There are trailers for three other Bill Murray movies: Groundhog Day, Ghostbusters II, and Stripes!. My next DVD spree will definitely include Groundhog Day, I’ve forgotten how much I loved that movie. Good sales job by somebody.

I’ve spent so much time talking about the DVD’s features that I haven’t gotten to the movie yet! There are a huge number of features on this DVD. None of them are great, but some of them are very good, and the sheer number of them make this a worthwhile DVD if you are even a moderate fan of Ghostbusters.

The movie’s basic storyline is a simple one, and is a conscious update of older “ghost” movies from comedy teams such as Abbott and Costello. Their hardest job was following up on the decision to make it a move that is at the same time funny, stupid, and believable. Egon (Harold Ramis), Ray (Dan Aykroyd), and Peter (Bill Murray) are teachers at a New York City college (filmed at Columbia, as I recall). They are the only members of the parapsychology department, something that was once quite popular. Even as late as the nineties, San Diego colleges still had parapsychology courses. (I got a glimpse at one of the textbooks for it. It included such gems of wisdom as, if you catch a possible psychic cheating, this is evidence that the psychic is real. Because the psychic knows that they’re real, they want to prove to you that they’re real, thus they will cheat to do so. Parapsychology: where Occam’s Razor is a dull and painful shave.)

The board of regents kicks them out, just as they’ve all finally seen a real, live (dead?) ghost. They’ve also come up with a (theoretical) way to trap ghosts. So they’re out of a job and have a new technology at their disposal, why not go into business on their own? Hey, if this Internet crap can make it big, why not ghostbusting?

Very, very funny movie. Ramis, Aykroyd, and Murray work very well together. The comedic timing is spot on. Sigourney Weaver, Rick Moranis, and Annie Potts round out the cast quite nicely. Although Moranis’ character is a bit of a weak addition, he does wonderfully with the character, “off on his own world”. Apparently most of the weird background things Rick Moranis does were made up by him while the camera was rolling.

If you liked Ghostbusters, you’ll really like this DVD.

Recommendation: Purchase

DirectorIvan Reitman
WritersDan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Rick Moranis
ActorsBill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Harold Ramis, Rick Moranis
Spoken languageEnglish
SubtitleEnglish
Special FeaturesArt Of, Commentary Track, Deleted Scenes, Making Of, Photo Gallery, Related Trailers, Special Effects Notes, Storyboards, Trailer
More links

If you enjoyed Ghostbusters…

If you enjoy Bill Murray, you might also be interested in Groundhog Day.

If you enjoy Dan Aykroyd, you might also be interested in 1941 and The Blues Brothers.

If you enjoy Harold Ramis, you might also be interested in Groundhog Day and Heavy Metal.

If you enjoy Rick Moranis, you might also be interested in My Blue Heaven.

If you enjoy roleplaying, you might also be interested in Excalibur, Highlander, The Road Warrior, and The Seven Samurai.