Cleanin’ Up The Town: Remembering Ghostbusters is a documentary that plays out like a love letter to fans of one of the most endearing and unique film franchises of all time, the Ghostbusters movies. The original films took the world by storm over a series of summers in the late 1980s, accomplishing what only a handful of movies prior to it had done before — making hundreds of millions at the box office. Cleanin’ Up The Town tells the story of how these films came to resonate with millions of people, and also shows that the origin story of this franchise, much like the Ghostbusters films themselves, has themes of camaraderie, perseverance, and paranormal enthusiasm.
Directed by Anthony Bueno, this documentary shows how the film was inspired by ideas found from the salvaged materials of an old-timey but powerful spirit medium, and through the collective creativity of some of cinema’s most prominent comedians, was fashioned into a movie of supernatural proportions. Filmed and set in the late 20th century, the laughs and special effects from these films still hold up even to this day, and Cleanin’ Up The Town pays perfect homage to the franchise by doing a deep dive into the film’s history to detail just how the animation and practical effects worked to create the film’s iconic movie magic. The special effects of Ghostbusters are arguably more realistic and visually impressive than movies made today that have far more advanced cinema technology at their disposal, and Cleanin’ Up The Town does a great job of showing just how the rousing spirit and imagination of the Ghostbusters filming team made it all happen.
The documentary is comprised of interviews from the likes of director Ivan Reitman, instant horror star Alice Drummond, the main cast — except for Bill Murray, unfortunately — as well as so many other cast and crew members that the films have picked up along the way. Cleanin’ Up The Town is an in-depth insider-information-heavy documentary, with the commentators fleshing out the already much-talked-about journey it took to make this movie with yet more personal side stories and tidbits about the film’s cast — and would be cast. For instance, Eddie Murphy was slated for this film but declined for another future hit movie out of the 1980s, as well as Jim Belushi, who was replaced after his untimely death. Furthermore, though New York City is about as much of a character in Ghostbusters as the rest of the cast, another secret star of the movie in Los Angeles, as it turns out much of the infamous library and firehouse interior scenes were filmed at LA buildings.
Details outside of the making of Ghostbusters 1 and 2 seemed a little slim, and the runtime made the film feel like it was a run-on sentence, however, it was fun getting to hear behind-the-scenes footage and untold stories related to the creation of the Ghostbusters films. The amount of information given in Cleanin’ Up The Town is certainly undeniable, however, I found the documentary to be a bit clunky in its straightforward delivery that relied solely on sit-down interviews mixed with clips from the movie. Though there are a handful of pieces of archival footage of the production, outside video or pictures from the zany stories of auditions, gags, and inside jokes referenced from the commentators would have made this 2-hour buffet a spicier piece of entertainment. Furthermore, the documentary seemed curiously dated as if it was a shot on video feature filmed in the 1990s. I am not sure if the instructional video look of Cleanin’ Up The Town is intended, but it seems there may have been some budgetary limits to this project, despite its star-studded list of commentators.
Cleanin’ Up The Town is a great film for die-hard fans of the original Ghostbusters films, I might even say required viewing, just for the amount of information and the fact that you get to catch up with beloved cast members Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, and Harold Ramis. See Slimer come from a tragic death to life, hear about Sigourney Weaver’s frightening but sexy audition, groove to the tunes of the film’s catchy score and theme song by legendary composer, Elmer Bernstein, and of course, learn about the many hurdles the cast and crew had to clear in order to create one of the most celebrated and recognizable movies of all time.
7 out of 10