Film and drama

Screen Themes: Ghostbusters (2016) vs Ghostbusters (1984)

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Are remakes a blight on the cinema or an entry point for new viewers to much-loved movies? Entertainment editor John Turnbull (and offspring) compare and contrast the new and classic Ghostbusters movies.

Ghostbusters (1984) directed by Ivan Reitman

Starring Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson, the original Ghostbusters movie came out when I was nine years old. I still remember heading to Hoyts in George Street with a bunch of friends and a random responsible adult, then running home and building my own proton pack so I could bust some ghosts of my own.

Buoyed by an insanely catchy theme tune and amazing chemistry between the lead actors, Ghostbusters tells the tale of a trio of scientists (and their black friend) who battle the ghostly invasion of New York. With a production budget of around $30 million, the film had an anarchic vibe, driven by Bill Murray’s borderline creepy Peter Venkman and his attempts to seduce Sigourney Weaver, even when she is possessed by a demon.

I introduced my kids to Ghostbusters a few years ago, along with Back to the Future and The Princess Bride. At this point, they’ve watched both the original and the sequel a dozen times each, so they’ve had time to form some opinions.

Danger (10):

“I think I’ve watched Ghostbusters more than any other movie. I like the music and the boys in it are really funny. The giant marshmallow man looks tasty.” 9/10

Angel (7):

“This is a really funny movie. It’s a bit scary but not too much, and the bit with Slimer eating the hot dogs is really funny. I really like the song. Who you gonna call?” — 10/10

Over 30 years later the original still holds up as great family entertainment.

Ghostbusters (2016) directed by Paul Feig

It’s fair to say the odds have been stacked against the Ghostbusters' reboot. From the initial MRA whining that so-and-so was raping their childhood, to the “most disliked trailer of all time” position on YouTube, to the ear-gratingly bad theme song, things didn’t look great. Which is a little weird, considering the talent involved.

Coming off the back of a string of good to great comedies, Melissa McCarthy is at the top of her game, particularly when teamed up with director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, Spy, The Heat). Co-lead, Kristen Wiig, has proven a reliable performer across multiple TV and movie projects, and new talent Kate McKinnon and Lesley Jones both have had strong runs on comedy star-making vehicle Saturday Night Live. Last but by no means least, Chris Hemsworth brings genuine superhero star power to the screen, displaying a remarkable flair for comedy.

Since the announcement of the Ghostbusters' reboot almost two years ago, Angel has asked at least once a month if it’s out yet. Frequently referring to the film as “Girlbusters”, I have seldom seen her more excited for a movie. So what did the kids think?


 “I thought it was good but a little creepy at the start. My favourite bit was the part with the door that kept opening and the guy got sucked in. All the Girlbusters were good, but I liked Kevin the best because he was funny.” 10/10


“It was scary. Lots scarier than the original. But it was pretty funny too, and I liked when the marshmallow man falls on the Ghostbusters and then gets poked in the bum. I liked all of the characters, but Kevin was really funny and stupid.” 9/10

Overall I found the Ghostbusters remake entertaining, if a little heavy on the CGI. While slightly annoying at first, McCarthy and Wiig grow into their characters, while Lesley Jones isn’t quite the racist caricature she is portrayed in the trailer. Standout performers for me were Kate McKinnon as the turbo-charged nerd Holtzmann and Chris Hemsworth as dumb-as-a-rock secretary Kevin.

Without wanting to spoil anything, there are some great cameos in this movie, although younger viewers may find it a little hard to understand how much Bill Murray has aged.

The Verdict

While the new Ghostbusters is nowhere near as bad as some reviewers would have you believe, it’s hard to believe that parents will be sharing it with their kids in 30 years. But to be fair, I’m not the target market. Which version did the kids prefer?




“I think the new one is a tiny bit better. I like the boys, but if girls do the Ghostbusters thing then they’re really brave.”

So there you have it.

Like what you read? John Turnbull''s books are now available on Amazon and Kindle. For about the price of a cup of coffee you can take a journey deep into the disturbed psyche behind columns including Screen Themes, Think For Yourself, New Music Through Old Ears and JT on NXT. There’s supernatural thriller Damnation’s Flame, action/romance Reaper, black comedy City Boy and travel guidebook Bar Trek: Europe. Check them out!

You can also follow John on Twitter @blackmagicjohn.

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