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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
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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?
- In theaters: June 1, 1984
- On DVD or streaming: September 16, 2014
- Cast: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Harold Ramis
- Director: Ivan Reitman
- Studio: Sony Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Character Strengths: Curiosity, Teamwork
- Run time: 107 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.