Not too long into "Guardians of the Galaxy," Chris Pratt's goofy planet-hopping mercenary character Peter Quill alludes to "The Maltese Falcon" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark" – a nod-and-a-wink homage to the borrowed plot device of chasing an elusive, prized item.
He also could have just as easily name-checked the film that paved the way for special effects-filled, sci-fi, adventure, comic buddy movies like "Guardians": "Ghostbusters."
From "Spaceballs" to "Men in Black" to "Guardians," moviegoers have reaped laughs and thrills from what "Ghostbusters" started with the first flip of the Proton Pack switch. Still, all these years later, the response to "Who you gonna call?" for the greatest movie of the genre remains the same.
Sure, the special effects in "Ghostbusters" register as a pale shade of slime green compared to today's sharp digital technology. But in the summer of 1984, the flick electrified and entertained moviegoers as it stormed the summer box office like Stay Puft Marshmallow Man rampaging through New York.
Director Ivan Reitman deftly combined the film's various elements – even throwing in a love story. But "Ghostbusters" ultimately gelled thanks to the comic chemistry of a cast boasting Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts, Rick Moranis and Sigourney Weaver.
Murray led the antics, with his sardonic scientist Peter Venkman transporting the lines like "He slimed me” and "We came, we saw, we kicked its a--" beyond catchphrases into pop cultural touchstones. Aykroyd and Ramis’ super-serious protogeeks, Ray Stantz and Egon Spengler, provided a deadpan counterpart to Venkman’s one-liners and boisterous declarations with nerdspeak that wouldn’t be out of place in the current revival of “Doctor Who” (in explaining the danger of “crossing the streams,” Spengler famously warned, "Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light").
The return of “Ghostbusters” also is unexpectedly poignant, coming six months after the death of Ramis, a sometimes-underappreciated force of modern movie comedy. He and Aykroyd reportedly worked for years writing a third "Ghostbusters" installment, though Murray is said to have balked at returning. Recent reports vary, with purported plans including everything from young actors joining the surviving cast members to a reboot featuring an all-women Ghostbusting team.
Whether or not the Ghostbuster’s former firehouse headquarters ever reopens, the rerelease marks an opportunity for some of us to revisit an old favorite on the big screen and for others to learn what all the fuss is all about.
The return of "Ghostbusters" might not be, as Murray’s Venkman would put it, an event of “biblical proportions." But it marks a good excuse to end the summer season with a trip to the movies. Check out the trailer below for the top movie of the summer of 1984 – and a timeless film comedy:
Jere Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is also the author of "Raising a Beatle Baby: How John, Paul, George and Ringo Helped us Come Together as a Family." Follow him on Twitter.