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Episode 98 - Ghostbusters

Is Ghostbusters Canon?  

164 members have voted

  1. 1. Should Ghostbusters be in the Canon?



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I'm a lifelong Ghostbusters fan. That extends to the remake, and it highlights one of the most valid complaints about the original: Venkman really is a dick. It's easy for me, even as someone who loves the movie, to agree with Amy's assessment that the film is deferential to him, as well as the comments calling the movie obnoxious. If you don't like Murray's brand of smarminess, that doesn't leave much to enjoy. Venkman telling Janine to get a better job is especially mean-spirited, and the movie repositions his pursuit of Dana from creepy to charming for no real reason, between him leaving her apartment and meeting her outside the orchestra hall. The jokes that I like from Venkman come from his detached POV and ribbing his friends, but if you like Venkman as a ladies' man, that's absolutely the part of the character that resonates with the part of the fanbase that loathed the idea of the remake. I also don't entirely know how to feel about the sexual undertones in the Keymaster / Gatekeeper stuff through the lens of 2017 sexual politics. Is it not rapey because they were both possessed?

 

On the other hand, I do think this is an excellent character comedy with a really great dynamic between Murray, Aykroyd, and Ramis, as well as Hudson when he shows up. All of the most memorable exchanges are the characters bouncing off of one another (the library sequence, the Sedgwick ballroom, the prison scene, the ending), with the quick but clear establishment of those personalities making dialogue even funnier (Egon has some of the best "left turn" lines in the film -- "That's great, Ray, save some for me" and "I looked at the trap, Ray", for example). The tone created by Reitman is balanced enough to support the fantastic premise and also material like the "Revelations" scene, which is a pretty masterful re-establishment of stakes.

 

If there's an element of the movie that gets overlooked, it's the really incredible craftsmen behind-the-scenes, which gives the movie a uniquely classic look and feel. In particular, production designer John De Cuir, composer Elmer Bernstein, and cinematographer Laszlo Kovacs help give the movie so much personality that the sequel (and the new one, more understandably) can't replicate. That temple set, the matte paintings, the incredible tone-setting music (listen to some of the unused segments and marvel at how tricky the balance is -- many of them get terribly on-the-nose).

 

I vote yes. It has flaws, but the influence is pretty incredible (this isn't completely relevant to the movie itself, but according to a study done in the late 2000s, the Ghostbusters logo is second in worldwide recognition only to the Coca-Cola logo), the craftsmanship is really impressive for a 1980s movie, and its particular alchemy of character comedy and spectacle has only been replicated once in the 30+ years since that I can think of, which is Galaxy Quest. (I agree with the person who said The Blues Brothers is the better film, though.)

 

By the way, the guy outside the concert hall is not necessarily the violinist Dana ends up with. The baby is the violinist's, not Venkman's. The man who played the physical Vigo the Carpathian was the Nazi, but the performance was dubbed by an uncredited Max Von Sydow.

 

http://deadspin.com/the-hateful-life-and-spiteful-death-of-the-man-who-was-1737376537

 

Finally, a positive story for Ernie Hudson which is probably true: one of Murray's conditions for doing Ghostbusters: The Video Game was supposedly that Ernie Hudson get an equal amount of dialogue.

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OK, wait, since it came up, Ron Jeremy is IN Ghostbusters. When the containment unit is exploding and passerby are gathering, he can be seen standing on the left of the frame behind a police barrier.

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I agree that it's weird that Amy somehow celebrates Revenge of the Nerds when it's a terrible artifact of the "Rapey 80's Sex Comedies" subgenre. I liked Ghostbusters, not only because it showcases the best in 80's comedic talents, but also because it's a pretty great sci-fi horror movie in its own right.

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There's a worrying amount of films chucked into the Canon based on

"ah well, it had a big cultural impact"

 

My interest in the Canon as a podcast has been that we kind of look past the cultural interest based in it, and focusing on the merits of the movie itself.

 

So looking at Ghostbusters as a movie, I'd plonk it in with Revenge of the Nerds and all those other 80's comedies.

It's really very watchable, but super odd, poorly paced, and tonally all over the place. I only really know 3 characters in the film; and the idea it's a comedy is based on the 4 jokes people constantly repeat. They are good jokes, I'll admit, but there's a lot of fluff in between.

 

It's fine. Not Canon-worthy at all.

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I voted no. I have seen this movie twice now and just didn't find it funny at all. I didn't really like the 2016 version either, but I though it was funnier than this one.

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I went in expecting to vote yes simply because Ghostbusters has been a pretty major cultural touchstone and it was a huge part of my childhood. But the more I've thought about it, beyond the "cultural impact" argument (which, for me, can be a significant factor in what I consider Canon-worthy), there's just not enough about it that really stands out to me as being especially notable. For me, Ghostbusters falls into a similar category as other "spooky comedies" like Gremlins and An American Werewolf in London. They are movies I like and enjoy and am happy to revisit on occasion, but not good enough on their own to bear the title of a Great Movie To Live on Forever.

 

It's not dissimilar from arguments made against Labyrinth when it came up for vote; I personally love that movie and voted yes, but I can understand where people were coming from. That's pretty much how I feel about Ghostbusters.

 

I do think this era is significant, though, but if I'm going to put a SNL/National Lampoon/Second City movie into the Canon, I'd sooner nominate Caddyshack and/or The Blues Brothers. And as far as Peak Murray goes, I'll take Groundhog Day every time.

 

No for me.

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I think what is really genius about Ghostbusters is the design and the world it suggests. But that's the problem, it only suggest that world. So much potential is wasted in lieu of a very shaggy 80's comedy with Bill Murray stomping all over the place like it's a miscalibrated Robin Williams movie.

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I think what is really genius about Ghostbusters is the design and the world it suggests. But that's the problem, it only suggest that world. So much potential is wasted in lieu of a very shaggy 80's comedy with Bill Murray stomping all over the place like it's a miscalibrated Robin Williams movie.

 

I'd argue that it only suggesting this stuff is a good thing. Doing so allows people's imaginations to wander and the film to linger in the memory. Alien is another great example of this, and why so many of the sequels/prequels have the problem of over-explanation.

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First of all, very happy that the Canon is back.

 

I voted yes for Ghostbusters, though, as Amy argued, I wonder how much my vote was influenced by seeing it in 1984 when I was barely out of my teens.

 

I saw it last year in a theater for the first time since the original release, and I still enjoyed the hell out of it.

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It's great to have Amy back, and I think Paul is a perfect compliment to her, I really hope he can come back on a regular basis.

 

I also think this would be a great time for Amy to make a slight pivot by giving the canon a bit stricter definition. I think the conceit of the show suffered for how ambiguous the term is, and that was with two consistent hosts. With a guest host AND a super-nebulous definition of the requirements, there isn't enough structure for people to shape their arguments around in a satisfying or convincing way.

 

I'd suggest the definition of the canon should be "The best ______ movie", where the blank can be anything, but it has to be explicitly defined by the guest. So Paul could say ghostbusters is the best 80s comedy, or the best Bill Murray vehicle, or the best ensemble crime fighting movie… and then Amy could bring up counter examples and really dig into particular aspects.

 

Anyway… on to Ghostbusters.

 

I was worried when I saw the title that this was too much of a sure thing, that the debate would be perfunctory, but Amy made some great points. And I loved Paul's balance of refuting and calling out Amy's position, while ensuring it was explored and presented. Awesome dynamic throughout the episode.

 

In the end, I believe this is probably best comedy of the decade. It's definitely of the time, and while I usually argue that the canon shouldn't grade on a curve when it comes to when a movie was made, I give a bit of lenience for comedies.

 

Thumbs up from me, although Amy really made me think through it.

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It's been long enough that I didn't actually remember The Blues Brothers wasn't already in The Canon. If this was a versus I'd go for that.

 

The underwhelmed reaction by many here is what I'd say about Stripes and Caddyshack.

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Not a first times listener or caller, like a couple of others here, I couldn't access my username/password and the password recovery isn't working. I'm wondering if it's because I don't log on real regularly or something and it does a weird clean out. I would get an email from password recovery saying click this, then I'd do that and wait for the reset password link that never came. (I also can't log on via Facebook). Okay that rant is over. On to the topic at hand...

 

First WELCOME BACK CANON! I missed the minute and half mini ep announcing it would be back, so it was a very pleasent surprise to see it on my feed.

 

Ghostbusters (1984)...like a number of writers, actors, comedians, directors, etc. of a certain age (of which I fall into) this film had a huge impact with me as a kid and into adulthood. It is probably one of a handful of films that helps shape how I write comedy (along with Groundhog Day, Scrooged, and The Big Lebowski...don't look at me like that!). I loved the cartoon, I enjoyed GB2, I even enjoyed Ghostbusters (2016) or Ghostbusters:Answer The call or whatever they are calling it.

 

That all said, this is a soft yes for me. I would love for this to be a hard yes, but it's not. If it was pitted against say Stripes it would be an easy yes but if pitted against Scrooged or Groundhog Day it would be a no. But I believe that the Canon is big enough for more then one film of a certain type. In a lot of ways, it is like the WWE Hall Of Fame, there is no set of rules other then who hasn't pissed off Vince McMahon at that particular moment. So based on that, yes Ghostbusters DOES deserve to be in The Canon.

 

If you're on Family Feud and they ask "Name a Bill Murray movie" Ghostbusters is going to be one of the first named and probably one of the highest numbered. You have verbal comedy, physical comedy, sight gags, and smart comedy. You have some interesting commentary on the 1980s; Venkeman, Egon, and Ray are scientests working in academia who are forced into the private sector due to budget cuts. In some ways it is an anti-Revenge of The Nerds. in RotN, the nerds think they are going to find a acceptance in the confines of college and they do, suggesting (and the sequels confirm this--showing Sheer's Law of Diminishing Sequel Returns.) that they will not leave college. But Ghostbusters shows us that in Reagan's 80s, academia for academia's sake is not safe. Academia must have results (like art in the 90s--if it's Government funded it can't provoke a response) in Reagan's America. So the guys are forced to go into the private sector. Then you have Louis and Dana live on the outskirts of the rich society, the same as the Ghostbusters. Louis is their accountant, Dana provides their entertainment, the Ghostbusters get rid of their ghosts (we can assume at least--maybe Venkeman is working on a sliding scale on the per ghost charge). The 80s were the land of the rich, the whole Wall Street Greed Is Good idea. Ghostbusters as a film is skewing this idea by showing what happens to the second level "caste" of people who service the rich (or maybe I'm reading too much into this LOL this is something I haven't really thought about it until this episode). The rewards of working for the rich (a nice apartment) leads to destruction, the cost of entertaining the rich is the destruction of your soul. You have the skewering of commercialism with the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. You have the EPA ostensibly as the #2 villain--the villain who stands in the way of the final boss, showing us that the in Reagan's america, you can't trust the government. The whole movie, 3 years in Reagan's administration, is taking a piss at Reagan's version of "Making America Great Again". I do wonder if the 2016 Ghostbusters had been made in 2018 instead of 2015 it would be able to take a stab at Trump's America and work better?

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I am STUNNED that this is such a close race. I would've thought slam-dunk guarantee that Ghostbusters would've made it.

 

I am a big YES, I think it's one of the great comedies and an incredibly strong, well-structured script (so much so that they basically reused it for Ghostbusters 2). Great effects, full of fun ideas, and some astoundingly good comedic performances.

 

Bill Murray doing his best Bill Murray; Harold Ramis' stiff, odd Egon (who is pretty darn distinct from Dan Aykroyd's ball of enthusiasm Ray); Sigourney Weaver as the smart woman who sees through Venkman's shit, then flipping into the unhinged, possessed Gatekeeper; and perhaps best of all is Rick Moranis as Louis Tully. I've seen this movie a ton of times, and I've come to appreciate how incredible he is here.

 

Every scene is full of fantastic punchlines and delightful little asides. It's had as much cultural impact as any movie from the '80s -- the catchphrases, the terminology, the spin-offs, Slimer, The Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, the no-ghosts logo.

 

I know that I'm at risk for rose-tinting here, but I can recognize those cases in myself (and I do have some, oh boy howdy do I), but any idea that we need to account for nostalgic distortions was washed away by Amy arguing for The Neverending Story, or including Karate Kid or some of the other entries in her left of better-in-1984 list. They may be okay, but they are not great by any standard that doesn't include heaping doses of nostalgia.

 

Glad to have the Canon back, let's welcome it back right. Gotta get Ghostbusters in.

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Quick aside: I'm a bit bummed that nobody's brought up The Man Who Knew Too Little as a good Murray movie. It's a criminaly underrated showcase. I think I'd put it at the top of the list, above Stripes, Scrooged, Groundhog Day, and Ghostbusters, when rating by Bill Murray quality.

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YES I'm on board for The Neverending Story. Mortality, existential dread, a child's possible descent into madness... what's not to love?

 

Ghostbusters is tough for me because it does hit me right in the nostalgia feels, what with this and the cartoon, the videogames, the Ecto Coolers, everything. Upon rewatch, I mostly enjoyed the performances and that unique mix of horror and comedy, which few films have successfully duplicated (although is it heresy if I think Ghostbusters II was funnier? It's a flawed film, but damn does it have its moments).

 

Ultimately Bill Murray does take the movie over and, looking back at his career, this is the kind of performance he could do in his sleep. Add in the other issues Amy & Paul discussed, and I had to go soft 'no' on this one.

 

And may I just say what an awesomely pleasant and thoughtful discussion it was, even with the disagreement? Loved it, and Paul was an excellent guest. I was already a fan of his from HDTGM? and Human Giant back in the day, which I guess doesn't hurt.

 

Top 5 Bill Murray: Groundhog Day, Rushmore, Scrooged, Lost in Translation, Kingpin (honorable mention: Coffee & Cigarettes)

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I can't be remotely objective about this film. It's my favorite comedy of the 80s, it's the best of the snob vs slob movies (the dean, Peck, the concierge, the people at the restaurant, pitch-perfect 80s snobs) and if it's not my favorite film of 1984 - the year of Amadeus and The Terminator - it's Top Three. I HAVE to vote for it.

 

Sometimes it's just that simple. I'm not going to try to think my way out of this.

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Glad to have the show back! Thank you Amy and everyone else who had a hand in bringing this show back. I will miss having two regular hosts, as it brings history into the debate. Also, kudos to the commenting crew. Read everything written so far and it seems like you guys didn't miss a beat.

 

As for the movie, I thought it would be an easy yes before I listened, but my conviction wavered a little as the episode went on, but not enough. It's an extremely good mix of comedy with horror elements and blockbuster special effects where each element works. It's very rare. There are so many great lines in this. Aykroyd and Murray are at the top of their games. Sigourney Weaver, Harold Ramis and Rick Moranis held their own and got some funny moments too. It may not be great from start to finish, but when it's great, it's exceptional and it's great so often that I'm willing to overlook the moments when it seems disjointed.

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A Canon based around purely cultural impact seems quite tedious to me. Ghostbusters doesn't do anything wrong per se, but it's also a film that doesn't really dazzle in the way a Canon film should. I'll be voting no, but can I just say I'm so happy to see The Canon come back. This was a great episode and the argument regarding whether or not this was the most notable Bill Murray film nearly edged me to the side of yes.

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Wow I am so happy that this show is back! Finally created an account to join in the discussion. This was a great discussion and I agreed with the points made both by Paul and Amy. I agree that the legacy and the franchise might be making this film better than it is, but I think there is a reason for everything that came after it. This is a special film that is so specific to the 80s that there is no way a film like this can be made in the same way today. I think the remake (while I enjoyed some parts) is proof of that. The decision for me came down to Paul comparing this to other comedies in the 80s and this being the definitive one. It is a YES to Ghostbusters for me.

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Great to have the show back! Looking forward to the upcoming episodes.

 

In this case, I'm going to have to go with Amy. I enjoy Ghostbusters, acknowledge its spot in the pop culture landscape, and do think it's the high-water mark for this group of comic talents in this era.

 

All that said, I don't think it's canon. It's shaggy, directorially undistinguished, and comes in a year that's rife with other, Canon worthy entries (Stranger than Paradise, Repo Man, Stop Making Sense, The Terminator, Blood Simple, Amadeus).

 

Hell, it's not even the most Canon-worthy comedy of this year. Spinal Tap is.

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While I would personally push for many of the 1984 alternates mentioned here, I don't think it matters. If 1984 was a good year, then you could have a hundred picks from it, no?

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Like another poster in this thread, I had to create a whole new account probably due to inactivity. But I did it happily for the return of The Canon.

 

Like others, I expected this to be a hearty YES from a lot of people, including myself. But really thinking about it, whenever I watch it I have the same issues that Amy brings up about the writing and the characters. But, the performances really overcome the weaknesses in the script to the point that you almost don't need anything else to completely understand these characters. Absolutely everyone turns in a fantastic performance that is memorable, quotable, and just plain funny. That's what ultimately made it a yes for me. No matter what the films faults are, it makes me laugh consistently in a lot of places. This isn't even talking about the interesting world, the production design, and the great special effects. It definitely belongs in The Canon, and the cultural significance doesn't even need to be mentioned.

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Before listening, I was planning on voting yes. But Paul gave a very weak defense of its inclusion which acknowledged many shortcomings, and Amy did a good job of pointing out comparable movies which aren't in, and I ultimately agreed that the Canon had gotten too lax in admitting films based on childhood nostalgia. Ghostbusters was a successful enough film to launch a franchise people have fond memories of, but the film itself is merely quite good while riddled with deficiencies, so I'll say this is among the most canonical of non-Canon worthy movies.

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Yeah y'know I love Paul but I never would have expected him to win a debate with Amy anyway.

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