Has it been that long? Could it really be that the passage of time has weathered the Ghostbusters storm four times? Three, at the time of making this documentary, but documentarian Anthony Bueno was not to know. Quite a bold move to put the best Ghostbusters film out after the making of a documentary looking back on the two Ghostbusters movies that captured the hearts and minds of a generation. For whatever reason, Bueno glosses over the third in the series, the one that shattered the hearts and minds of everyone with so much as a glancing and infrequent joy for Ghostbusters. Cleanin’ Up the Town: Remembering Ghostbusters is an excuse for people to look back at when their career was exciting, for audiences, for prospective projects, and for themselves.
Attempts to make Sigourney Weaver sound like a nerd as fellow cast members, directors and members of production reminisce about the feel-good film of the summer from all those decades ago. Remembering Ghostbusters is pretty easy since anyone over the age of fifty is possessed with the desire to make everyone watch it. Nice enough stuff although for those obsessed with the Ray Parker Jr.-song featuring film, although much of this Bueno-directed piece hopes to focus on the cultural impact it had on the stars. It does so well enough, featuring those BAFTA-winning surprises, the commercial viability and what happened beyond the release which shot those featured within to a new level of fame. What it does not need is Dan “Crystal Head Vodka” Aykroyd reminiscing about the early 1900s.
Many of those within Cleanin’ Up the Town use this documentary as a chance to wax off about their previous lives before Ghostbusters and what shaped their decisions to join the cast. Aykroyd is clearly the outlier, whose opening lines are to explain how those ghosts he was caught busting throughout the 1980s are in fact real spirits he believes in. Nutcases don’t get calmer than Aykroyd, bless his heart. Bueno has no choice but to let him ramble on, cutting away occasionally to a grimacing Sigourney Weaver or a complacent Ernie Hudson, all of who accept their legacy as being part of the Ghostbusters fabric. Bill Murray’s absence is tremendous. It speaks volumes.
For those desperate for a real deep dive into the fabric of a high-grossing movie, here it is. Cleanin’ Up the Town digs deep into those archives and finds all the design blueprints, planned scenes and initial drafts that make for bonus features on DVDs back in the day. Ghostbusters fans are seemingly linked to back in the day, when things were better and Return of the Jedi was fresh in the mind. Franchising was not as full-blown and socially active as it is now, ghosts were presumed illusions brought to life on the big screen and not something Aykroyd produces to sell vodka. Times were simpler, although the scruffy edges of Cleanin’ Up the Town make for a difficult, oftentimes absent watch which fails to capture the real heart and appeal of the movie. Whatever that may be.