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Still shot from the movie: Ghost Busters.

Ghost Busters

After having their grant money cut off and being kicked out of the university where they have been doing research, Drs. Venkman (Bill Murray), Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) and Spengler (Harold Ramis) decide to use their expertise in parapsychology to start a private company to rid residents of unwanted supernatural pests. Get the movie review and more. »

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Overall: C+ 2.5
Violence: C+
Sexual Content: C+
Language: C
Drugs/Alcohol: C
Run Time: 105
Theater Release: 08 Jun 1984
Video Release: 05 Feb 2002
MPAA Rating: PG
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In 1984 the stars of Saturday Night Live and S.C.T.V. reigned supreme in popular culture, and Ghost Busters was just one of many films that showcased their talent and humor. Walking a very fine line between comedy, horror and fantasy genres, the film follows three professors whose interests in parapsychology have pushed the university’s administrators too far. Booted out and cut off from their grant funding, they determine to setup a private company to rid residents of unwanted supernatural pests.

However, Drs. Venkman (Bill Murray), Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) and Spengler (Harold Ramis) don’t appear to be your average academic specialists. Spengler is the most immersed in the science of ghost hunting. Stantz offers the tenacity and brawn required to confront the most threatening specters. Meanwhile Venkman, who is easily distracted by women, seems more interested in catching the attention of any female than capturing spirits. He is particularly flirty with their first client, Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver), who has a phantom in her refrigerator.

At first the populous views the trio’s business plan as sheer nonsense, but when an outbreak of metaphysical activity hits the city, the Ghost Busters are suddenly rocketed into the limelight. While good for business, the attention also attracts the notice of government authorities. EPA inspector Walter Peck (William Atherton) insists the enterprise is in violation of several laws and forces the team to release the poltergeists they have captured. Once freed, the spirits place the city under siege. Desperate for help, who’s the mayor gonna call? Ghost Busters!

Created before the PG-13 rating existed in the US, parents may be surprised at the level of content this film presents. Even though the plot is primarily about laughs, many of the supernatural specters may frighten young children. Some are silly, but others appear as skeletons or large ravenous animals. (The special effects associated with these sequences did get the movie an Oscar nomination.) Beyond the goose bumps, sexual comments may also shock. These include a couple of fairly explicit references and a moment where a female ghost appears to be removing a man’s pants. Another scene depicts a possessed woman embracing a man, and sexual activity is implied. Language may be a concern as well, due to the use of a crude term for sex, some anatomical slang and a selection of other profanities. Finally, characters smoke cigarettes throughout the film.

Ghost Busters emerged as one of the more popular films from the early 1980s, and continues in the public eye thanks to the hit song by Ray Parker Jr. and a forthcoming remake (scheduled for 2011). However, it may fall short of kid-friendly today, especially for families concerned about satanic depictions or other paranormal themes. Others may not appreciate the sexual remarks, scary scenes, or incessant smoking. While perhaps suitable for older teens, parents would do well to refresh their memory before calling in these banshee banishers.

Ghost Busters is rated PG:

Cast: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Harold Ramis
Studio: 1984 Columbia Pictures
Website: Official site for Ghost Busters.

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About the Reviewer: Rod Gustafson

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