Feb 15 2012

3 Great Things About Ghostbusters That Have Nothing to Do with Bill Murray


There’s been a lot of talk about the upcoming/rumored/probably-never-going-to-happen Ghostbusters 3. The most recent word is that Dan Aykroyd is so serious about getting the thing made, he’s willing to recast Bill Murray. Of course, that’s a terrible idea, and if Aykroyd actually said that, I doubt he was serious. Even if he was, they got Murray for the damned Ghostbusters video game, so I have trouble believing that he won’t cave and at least film a cameo if this sequel ever actually gets made.

"Just kiddin' folks! Zip ziparooooo!"

But whether it’s true or not, it’s got everybody in an uproar, with some bloggers and commenters going so far as to say that Bill Murray was the only good thing about the film. Now I love(d) Bill Murray. He is a fantastically talented dude who gave us some of the funniest performances in film history. Hasn’t done much for me lately, but whatever. He’s brilliant, and he’s definitely a huge asset to Ghostbusters. But, c’mon people, turn away from your Wes Anderson love shrine for a second. Time for a reality check. Let me remind you of 3 Great Things About Ghostbusters That Have Nothing to Do with Bill Murray:

#3. It’s Got a Damn Good Script
Yes, Bill Murray absolutely improvised extra lines during filming, and the ones that made the final cut are hysterical. But over the years, it’s become popular to believe that Murray just strolled onto the set and said whatever dialog came into his head. Heck, he probably wrote most of the other characters’ lines too, right before inventing modern comedy, then ascending to the heavens on a rocket-cloud made of laughter.

"Guys, in this scene I'm thinkin' we bust ghosts. Cuz it makes me feel good."

Actually, 90% of what you see onscreen can be found right here. That’s the shooting script, and it took several revisions by Aykroyd and Harold Ramis to turn a really basic idea into the tight, funny movie we know and love. And it’s not only funny. Ghostbusters is tense, full of action, and–at times–scary as shit. It’s just a great movie, plain and simple. Bill Murray made it measurably better, but it would have been great even without him.

#2. It’s Fun to Watch
I don’t just mean the effects are good, though they are. I mean it’s well-paced and visually interesting. Take out the funny dialog and you’d still have a decent action/adventure flick with some excellent set pieces.

Our heroes use neat weapons, trash every room they enter, get covered in slime, and drive a pimped out hearse. All while the coolest theme song in movie history plays in the background. Ghostbusters has some truly imaginative action scenes. The thing ends with a battle for all of New York City against a demon and a giant monster from hell (the latter conjured from the mind of one of our heroes) and they end up beating it at the last second with experimental science. Then one of them kisses a girl and they ride into the sunset as the entire city cheers. And those are just the parts of the movie that people DON’T EVEN TALK ABOUT because they’re too busy buying t-shirts that say “Back off man, I’m a scientist”, which, incidentally, is a line that was in the script.

#1 It’s Got a Great Cast That Isn’t Bill Murray
Again, Bill Murray is great. But so is literally everyone else in this movie and they don’t get half the credit he does. You’ve got Aykroyd rattling off paragraphs of rapid-fire psuedo-science with the enthusiasm of a five-year-old, Ramis doing some of the most underrated deadpan comedy in cinema, and of course Rick Moranis who is…just…


So, one last time: Bill Murray is great. I’m talking really really super extra great times infinity levels of greatness. But Ghostbusters is an awesome movie in its own right. He’s the icing, not the cake. Let’s all stop playing into this idea that the man is a hipster god who can do no wrong, and give some credit where credit’s due.