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  Cleanin' Up the Town: Remembering Ghostbusters Never Give Up The Ghost
Year: 2019
Director: Anthony Bueno
Stars: Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ivan Reitman, Sigourney Weaver, Ernie Hudson, William Atherton, Annie Potts, Timothy Carhart, Richard Edlund, Steve Johnson, David Margulies, Jennifer Runyon, Ray Parker Jr, Terri Hardin, John Bruno, Steven Tash, Alice Drummond
Genre: DocumentaryBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: The first the public knew of it were the television ads: a cartoon of a ghost in a red circle with a red line through it, and the voiceover telling us, "They're coming to save the world". A bold claim, but that was what Ghostbusters intended to do, not even its great rival Indiana Jones had been able to do that, but this mixture of horror, comedy and lavish special effects seemed to signal a shift in what was expected of the blockbuster out of Hollywood. It went on to be a global phenomenon, the biggest movie of 1984, and one of the most beloved of all time thanks to its sassy script, a lack of sentimentality and an embrace of the paranormal as plot points. And all because one of the team had a grandfather who had been involved in a different branch of showbiz, that of clairvoyance...

Yes, Dan Aykroyd was the man who was fascinated by the supernatural, as you will know if you have ever heard an interview with him and he gets onto the subject, one of his favourites. He starts this documentary with a rundown of his interests and the brief history of the circumstances that brought him to write the original, enormously detailed screenplay for Ghostbusters, something that was too unwieldy to shoot, but had such a great idea at its core that director Ivan Reitman knew his old buddy was onto something. With fellow comic actor Harold Ramis brought on board to both co-star and manage the script into a more filmable state, and Aykroyd's old Saturday Night Live cohort Bill Murray recruited as the third member of the team, mainly because their former colleague John Belushi had since died, the scene was set.

Anthony Bueno's account of this, assisted by his sister Claire Bueno to whip the material into shape, was one of those exhaustive delves into filmmaking history that related a production of note, something that had been growing in popularity in the same way that curated Blu-rays would have such documentaries as featurettes, for many the best reason to stick with the physical format. But these films were inviting fans to visit a cinema to take in all this information - though you imagine most would see them at home - despite them largely not looking any more or less polished than a piece on one of those discs. That sense was difficult to shake at first, but if these were blessed with some great anecdotes or truly useful insight, then the drawbacks could be forgiven should you be entertained by the volume of such things.

The Buenos had certainly done their best to amass as many interviews as possible, and what rendered this more valuable by the point of its release was the presence of those who were no longer with us, like Alice Drummond (the librarian) or David Margulies (the Mayor), or most importantly, Ramis, whose reminiscences were liberally applied throughout since he was such an engaging raconteur. Maybe the most ardent fans would not to be too taken aback by many of the stories here (nor that Bill Murray did not participate), but it was mostly pleasing to sit back and let all these talents take a trip down memory lane, for old time's sake, and they assuredly liked to talk about themselves (who doesn't in that industry?). There were also behind the scenes photos and clips to fill out the running time, and if everyone was pleasantly surprised at just how successful it was, maybe what was missing was much analysis as to why it chimed so resonantly with the world, and continues to. A quibble, though: this was nicely done on a low budget (no cash available for a certain theme song!).
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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