Was it the rich, sprawling mythology of the ghostbusting universe?
Or was it Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Harold Ramis teaming up to make a comedy in the prime of their careers?
Yeah, I'm pretty sure it's that second one.
Also in the prime of its career: Ernie Hudson's mustache game.
See, people have a borderline rabid sense of nostalgia for Ghostbusters and the Ghostbusters brand, but the movie is about those three actors, period. Three of the biggest giants in the history of comedy came together to make a weird, funny movie. That's what the fans clamoring for another Ghostbusters film and the maniacs who greenlit two different reboots don't seem to understand -- the Ghostbusters brand and the performances of Murray, Aykroyd, and Ramis are the same thing. They're inseparable. That movie could've been about fucking time-traveling cab drivers and it probably would've had the exact same impact on all of us. It was a unique premise executed by three of the most unique comedians ever captured on film. Without them, the brand is meaningless.
Now, to be fair, right up until the day Harold Ramis died, fans were demanding another Ghostbusters film starring the original cast. But even that was a mistake. To illustrate my point, let's talk about Ghostbusters II.
Featuring inspired wackiness like Santa hats on the job.
Ghostbusters II was released just five years after the original Ghostbusters. To put it in perspective, that's roughly the same amount of time that passed between the release of The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Is Retroactively Less Good Because of This Shitty Movie. Every single member of the original cast came back. Even the fucking mayor was played by the same actor. Bill Murray was still cranking out hits, Harold Ramis had yet to anger whatever mummy cursed him to gain the weight of an extra person, and Dan Aykroyd hadn't thrust Blues Brothers 2000 into screaming life beneath the sallow moon of an angry god. Sigourney Weaver, Ernie Hudson, and Rick Moranis were all given expanded roles. Ghostbusters had just spent most of the 1980s coasting on a lucrative wave of merchandising, cartoons, and cross-promotional breakfast foods. The brand could literally not be any hotter than it was in the summer of 1989.
And Ghostbusters II still sucked.
"Maybe this movie isn't very good." -- the person who had to paint this picture.