The systematic pursuit and apprehension of any spooks, vapors or phantasms to be found in a metropolitan area - seems a perfect profession for Bill Murray. It requires a cool head, which Mr. Murray most assuredly has, as well as the ability to remain unruffled by bizarre apparitions - the sight, say, of a fat green ghost in a hotel corridor, gobbling the scraps off somebody's room-service tray.
This kind of work calls for the kind of sang-froid that, coming from Mr. Murray, amounts to facetiousness of the highest order.Ok, ok. She doesn't like Bill Murray. It's crazy but a forgiveable bias, perhaps, since he is a smarmy bastard. But what about Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis? They slay with lines like "Back off man, I'm a scientist," and that bit about the twinkie, don't they?
Ready and able as he is to take on the ordinary chores that come his way in ''Ghostbusters'' (like carrying around a sample of suspicious slime, or investigating a haunted refrigerator), Mr. Murray also seems game for the full-fledged horror parody that ''Ghostbusters'' could have been. But, however good an idea it may have been to unleash Mr. Murray in an ''Exorcist''-like setting, this film hasn't gotten very far past the idea stage. Its jokes, characters and story line are as wispy as the ghosts themselves, and a good deal less substantial.
The screenplay is by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, who play Mr. Murray's partners in parascience; Mr. Ramis plays the egghead type, and Mr. Aykroyd is more of a blank, since there's barely a role here for him at all.So, to recap, the plot sucks, Bill Murray is out of his league and Dan Aykroyd doesn't have any good lines. How about the spooks and special effects? Isn't it badass when Sigourney Weaver turns into a demonic dog? Or laugh-out-loud absurd when Mr. Stay-Puft starts stomping NYC?
As long as the film retains its playfulness and keeps the stakes low, things are promising. But once the trail leads to the refrigerator of Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver), which contains a hellhound and a gleaming, apocalyptic vision (''Generally, you don't see this kind of behavior in a major appliance,'' Dr. Venkman observes), the film gets out of hand. Ivan Reitman, the director, subsequently has to contend with spectacles like a rooftop demonic shrine and a 100-foot marshmallow dressed in a sailor suit, marching up Central Park West. Not surprisingly, with all this going on, there is more attention to special effects than to humor.Ouch. Anything else you'd like to get off your chest?
...it's another of the messy, near-miss films in which [Murray] seems to specialize. Put Mr. Murray in any setting where order, tidiness and rationality are taken seriously, and he becomes the consummate anarchic slob; that's enough to keep ''Ghostbusters'' going, like ''Stripes'' and ''Meatballs'' before it. But Mr. Murray would be even more welcome if his talents were used in the service of something genuinely witty and coherent, rather than as an end in themselves.Really? Meatballs is better than Ghostbusters? Which one spawned a cartoon series, two sequels (yup, Ghostbusters III, coming in 2012), and raked in $238 million at the box office? (Hint: it wasn't the one about summer camp.)