I was pretty psyched that something would finally force me to watch this movie, because it’s one of those iconic pieces of pop-culture that everyone knows about and I’ve always felt like I should really get around to seeing sometime. I went into it familiar with most of the imagery from its signature moments--the green ghost, the laser backpacks, the giant marshmallow man--and, perhaps more importantly, I was aware of the fondness with which it’s remembered. I’ve never heard a bad word spoken about this movie or anyone in it (I challenge you to find a single negative comment about Bill Murray on the internet; that shit just doesn’t exist). Even knowing the special effects of the eighties were gonna wind up a little underwhelming, its reputation as one of the big cinematic events of the decade had me pretty excited. Now that I’ve watched it, I’m happy to say: Yeah, it was pretty good.
None of it made me laugh, but none of it left me cringing at jokes that completely flopped, either, and that was with the comedic handicap of watching it solo. A lot of the humor was centered around Bill Murray being a jerk, and while that’s right up my alley when it comes to stuff I find funny, it just never quite did it for me. Maybe shows like Archer and Always Sunny have accustomed me to stronger doses of the watch-people-be-assholes drug. The goofier stuff, like nerds being awkward (haw!), hit home more often despite feeling kinda dated. Rick Moranis is awesome.
I thought the ghosts were handled pretty darn well. The movie does a solid job of steadily upping the tension without ever losing its lighthearted charm, and while the conflict seems to wind up having more to do with gods and demon-dogs than phantoms and hauntings, it maintains a deft balance of horror, action, and comedy right through to the end. The inclusion of a convoluted mythology to the whole affair felt a little at-odds with the tone of everything else, but it enabled that big spectacle at the end with the marshmallow man and the shaving cream ‘splosion, so whatevs. I flinched when the library ghost made a crazy face, I got spooked when hands popped out of Sigourney Weaver’s chair, and I had fun watching that green thing do considerably less damage to the hotel than Murray and his Ghostbusters. I liked it.