Classic Review: Ghostbusters

Stars:  **** out of 4

Summary:  Hilarious, scary, accessible fun.

Ghostbusters!

Pictured: Who you are going to call, minus one.

Review: Oh my God, this is the greatest movie I’ve ever seen in my life!  Okay, maybe not, but it’s definitely up there.  This is what we call a “comedy”, ladies and gents, which I make a point of pointing out since we seem to have forgotten what exactly that is.  You see, a long time ago people went to movies to experience the phenomenon dubbed “laughter” typically accompanied by “fun” and an overall sense of narrative satisfaction — and sometimes they even brought the kids!  Okay, maybe I’m going over the top, but the point is they don’t make movies like this anymore.  ‘Ghostbusters’ is like a flash in the pan.  There’s only a few comedies I can put on its level, all of which shall be reviewed!

I’m not going to tell you the story, darn it! If you don’t know it, shame on you! Go see this movie now!

This movie works because it actually doesn’t try to wring out as many jokes from its premise as it can, which is a common mistake for films of its type.  Instead, it relies almost wholly on creating fun characters with great chemistry who naturally produce comedy.  It’s like magic!  And, crucial too is the application of real suspense and nightmarish special effects.  This isn’t a total farce, this is a credible fantasy film.  If I don’t think some of the ghosts are scary, then I can’t laugh at them either.  It’s a paradox.

What ‘Ghostbusters’ represents to me is the perfect balance of horror and comedy.  I don’t mean slasher or zombie horror, I mean like ‘Poltergeist’ horror.  There are plenty of films that mix the two, to be sure, but none so pure a balance as ‘Ghostbusters’.  I least that I’ve seen.  Feel free to suggest a rival.  Anywho, ‘Ghostbusters’ was a big part of my childhood and was kind of the gateway drug into darker, scarier movies that I couldn’t stomach before — when I was 9, I mean.  I saw ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ before ‘Ghostbusters’, but it scared the mellow yellow out of me, and seeing a film both fun and freaky like GB opened my eyes to the awesomeness of Indy.  My life was fun that way.

This is also a movie that helped form my opinion of the horror genre in general.  I’ve mostly been opposed to it until recently.  I don’t like many horror movies.  I tend to find them unentertaining at best and sickening and gutwrenching at worst, the latter of which, actually, many of them aim for.  I prefer the concept of a film that uses eerie, otherworldly imagery to help us deal with childhood phobias and confront evil in our adult lives.  A great scary picture can have the greatest potential as a morality play or message movie.  There’s something about the nature of it that can make it seem less anvilicious.

‘Ghostbusters’ is the definitive family action/horror/comedy film.  I like it.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop

Stars:  ** out of Four

Summary:  After a slow start, this kid-friendly Die Hard parody finally gets on the Segway, and delivers a good film for lazy afternoons.

Hes determined to make a decent comedy. And succeeds.

He's determined to make a decent comedy. And succeeds.

Review:  Kevin James is one of the those comedic actors who isn’t an arrogant jerk (like, say, Adam Sandler), but he does end up in movies that suck every now and then. ‘I now pronounce you Chuck & Larry’ is a good example of that.

Thankfully, ‘Paul Blart: Mall Cop’, the first financial hit of 2009, is not.

It’s refreshing to see a goodhearted little comedy film do so well, especially one that doesn’t rely on the raunch factor.  Instead, it relies on pop culture familiarity for its laughs, which does usually work.  The nice thing about ‘Paul Blart’ is that the titular character is just plain a nice guy, and you root for him instantly.  There’s not a whole lot to examine, thankfully, since the film never confronts you with anything particularly morally objectionable or complicated.  It’s very straightforward.

Though this film may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it’s not bad enough to keep it from being a popcorn-and-milkdud-munchin’ entertainer.  The best part is, it is actually just good enough.

And yes, Roger Ebert does like this movie.