Movie review by
Alex Orner, Common Sense Media
Ghostbusters Movie Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Paranormal '80s classic has some scares, innuendo.
  • PG
  • 1984
  • 107 minutes

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 72 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 142 reviews

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We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

A rare movie where scientists save the day. Friendship is also an important theme, though the friends are far from perfect, as are curiosity and teamwork.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Peter Venkman is shown as a bit of a womanizer for comic effect, but figures out he'll have more chances getting the girl through heroism. The Ghostbusters band together and trust each other in difficult situations.


Plenty of blasting from special ghost-busting lasers. A hotel ballroom is destroyed and another building explodes with the main characters running for their lives. Ghosts take over NYC, some scary-looking (with decomposing skeletal appearances and wicked grins) some not (slimy green blobs who eat a lot). Two characters are possessed by large dog-like creatures. One has arms grab her through a chair and screams as she's hurled through the room. A building crumbles and pieces fall on a crowd below who also almost get smashed by a 50-foot walking marshmallow. Mentions of ancient god worship and sacrifices, as well as judgment day and what it meant according to the Bible and other traditions. A demi-god attacks with lightning bolts coming from her arms.


A fantasy scene implies Ray receives oral pleasure from a ghost; you see his pants mysteriously unzipped down to his underwear and his eyes cross in pleasure. Dana makes bold sexual advances while possessed, writhing around, and showing lots of leg. She even says, "Do you want this body?" "Take me now" and "I want you inside me" to Peter who jokes that she already has more than one person inside her. Plus a few kisses and plenty of innuendo, including a joke about getting the Stay Puft Marshmallow "laid."


"S--t" is said three times, "bitch" once, "ass" and other versions a few times, "pissed," "hell," "mother puss bucket," and jokes about an EPA official having no "d--k."


Coke is seen a few times, a Twinkie is used as a metaphor, and one of the Ghostbusters shouts, "it's Miller time." Cheese-Its and Budweiser are consumed. A montage shows the Ghostbusters on the cover of some prominent magazines like Time and The Atlantic with the voices of Casey Kasem and Larry King in the background.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Lots of smoking, mostly by Peter and Ray who often have a cigarette dangling from their lips while catching ghosts. They also share a bottle of hard alcohol after being fired from their jobs and are seen drinking beer a few times. A ghost chugs wine that goes right through him.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Ghostbusters is an iconic '80s movie that mixes a ton of humor (some of it fairly racy) in with the plotline about catching scary ghosts (a few are skeletal and scary) and the possible end of the world. The scariest part is probably the large dogs with glowing eyes that attack and possess two characters, though the now-dated special effects may not faze older kids. There's some strong language ("s--t" a few times, for starters) and sexually charged scenes, including one in which a character fantasizes briefly about a ghost giving him oral pleasure and another where a possessed woman writhes around and says "I want you inside me" to a male character, who laughs it off. Two Ghostbusters do a lot of smoking, often dangling a cigarette out of their mouths while trying to catch ghosts.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 7 and 9-year-old Written byhike4diamonds October 31, 2015

Not PG in today's rating system!

I am mortified that I let my kids watch this. I am usually very conservative compared to my kid's friends' parents but my friend, who is also typicall... Continue reading
Parent of a 8 and 10-year-old Written byLuaith September 11, 2009
The implied oral sex from a spirit was way too graphic for my kids. This is the first time I have found a common sense rating to be off the mark.
Kid, 12 years old October 1, 2009
Hilarious movie, my favourite line being "Shhh! Can you smell that?" Great movie, pehaps the sex could have been cut. Oral ghost sex?! No thanks.
Teen, 15 years old Written byramensun October 7, 2017

Surprisingly Inappropriate

When I watched this movie, I was not forewarned and expected it to be a somewhat goofy, but action-filled classic. First of all, the movie was really not very g... Continue reading

What's the story?

In GHOSTBUSTERS, the hilarious team of Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis fight ghosts and ghouls in their profession of paranormal sanitation workers. With fully charged proton packs strapped to their backs, they venture around New York City exterminating pesky apparitions. Peter Venkman (Murray) falls for Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver), a reserved beauty who unwillingly becomes the gatekeeper for an apocalyptic spiritual dimension. The team, along with newcomer Ernie Hudson, face off against demonic forces with cataclysmic magnitude. One indelible scene involves the eradication of a 50-foot Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

Is it any good?

Director Ivan Reitman's movie succeeds in cleverly combining comedy, action, and some scary stuff. Although Ghostbusters has some frightening moments, Murray, Aykroyd, and Ramis provide enough comic relief to lighten the fears. Considering its 1984 release date, the film's special effects are superlative (though today's kids may find them eye-roll-inducing). Parents will enjoy watching this movie with their children. But during scary scenes (particularly one involving a hard-nosed librarian), they might have to cover younger kids' eyes.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what defines a hero. Besides Ghostbusters, what other movies feature scientists and professors who save the day?

  • Talk about how the scares mix with humor. For kids normally scared of things like ghosts, how did the humor help? How did seeing a creature like the 50-foot Stay Puft marshmallow man make you laugh, even though the Ghostbusters were in danger?

  • Do you believe in ghosts, and why or why not?

  • If you've seen the 2016 remake of Ghostbusters, how does it compare to the original? What, if anything, changes by having the Ghostbusters be women?

  • How do the characters in Ghostbusters demonstrate curiosity and teamwork? Why are these important character strengths?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love sci-fi and comedies

Character Strengths

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