Bill Murray at his comedic best

It is said that the role of Peter Venkman was originally written for John Belushi, but we’ll never know how he would have performed in the role. Fellow “Saturday Night Live” alum Bill Murray stepped into the role and ran away with the movie. Harold Ramis and Dan Aykroyd fit into the story like a glove in Ivan Reitman’s masterpiece, but Bill Murray steals his every scene – which means most of the movie – with a performance full of dead-pan, ironic, world-weary, been-there-done-that hilariousness.He has a sarcastic remark for every occasion, and the audience is the only one in on the joke every time.When prospective girlfriend Dana Barrett (played by Sigourney Weaver, who gets a plum opportunity to show off her comedic skills) gets possessed by an evil demon, she is transformed into a slinky seductress. Bill Murray has come over to her apartment and in his hilarious dead-pan manner lets the audience know that he recognizes all is not normal with Ms. Barrett. As hilarious and sarcastic as Venkman is, he’s at least a gentleman of sorts and doesn’t take advantage of the situation when the demon tries to seduce him.”Do you want this body?” Sigourney-demon asks him.He pauses for a perfect beat before replying:”Is this a trick question?”The special effects don’t look like the CGI visions that have been on screen for a couple of years (this was 1984) yet they’re part of the fun. Even so, the special effects serve the story rather than up-staging it, and when the movie was initially released I remember howling with the audience after the first special-effect ghost “attacks” Bill Murray and leaves him on the floor in a glistening mess.”He SLIMED me!” Venkman yelled, and we laughed our heads off.This disc is not dated by contemporary references – it’s just as hilarious today as it was in 1984, and it’ll probably be just as funny 100 years from now. The DVD comes with extras that add to the fun, and in the commentary tracks Ivan Reitman and Harold Ramis show that “Ghostbusters” was an absolute highlight in all of their lives.Mine too.

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