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Cleanin' Up the Town: Remembering Ghostbusters Movie Review

Written by James Ferguson

Released by Screen Media

article-cover

Directed by Anthony Bueno
Written by Anthony and Claire Bueno
2019, 128 Minutes, Not Rated
Extended version released on October 1st, 2021

Starring:
Dan Aykroyd as Himself
Harold Ramis as Himself
Ernie Hudson as Himself
Sigourney Weaver as Herself
Annie Potts as Herself
William Atherton as Himself

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Review:

When I was a kid, I had a handful of VHS tapes on a shelf near the TV. They were bootleg copies of movies like Indiana Jones and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, recorded from copies rented from the supermarket (Yeah, it was a thing). There was a special section of the shelf reserved for my most prized movies, with just three tapes there: Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters II, and a blank tape reserved for the inevitable Ghostbusters III. While it took a bit longer than I had hoped to see another Ghostbusters movie, the franchise stayed near and dear to my heart. That's why I jumped at the chance to check out Cleanin' Up the Town, a documentary about the making of the classic 1984 film.

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The creators of this film went deep in their coverage, interviewing everyone from the Ghostbusters themselves (sans Bill Murray) to bit characters, like the students in the shock therapy session, to extras in street scenes, not to mention tons of special effects people and crew. The film moves from topic to topic, including the origins of the film, how the special effects came together, and the initial response. It's a fascinating deep dive into the movie.

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While this is a nice comprehensive look at various aspects of Ghostbusters, the flow feels off. There's no transition from one topic to the next, so instead, Cleanin' Up the Town feels like a number of DVD bonus features strung together to form a two-hour block. There's not a story so much as it's like reading through the trivia section of the movie's IMDB page, albeit with a bit more commentary.

This isn't to say the information conveyed is drab or boring. It's far from it. It's amazing to look at the work that went into the making of this classic film. I was already aware of some tidbits, like how the role of Peter Venkman was originally written for John Belushi, but I learned quite a lot about this 35+-year-old movie. One funny item is how they filmed the scene with Slimer buzzing around a chandelier using a miniature version of him. When it came time to do a moving shot later, they couldn't find any of the replicas they made, so, in a panic, the special effects team painted a peanut green and put it in there. The shot of Slimer flying quickly across the screen is actually a peanut. Wow.

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Ghostbusters is a film that shows how horror and comedy can co-exist. That's celebrated decades after its release by fans around the world. It's clear from the interviews contained within Cleanin' Up the Town that it was a seminal point in the lives of everyone involved in its creation. If you're even a casual fan of the Ghostbusters or the franchise, this is well worth a watch.

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Grades:

Movie: 3.5 Star Rating Cover
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About The Author
James Ferguson
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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