Film reviews

Cleanin’ Up the Town: Remembering Ghostbusters – Review

“I’ve seen sh*t that’ll turn you white!” 

Ghostbusters is, perhaps, the greatest comedy of all time. A sequel, reboot, animated series, tonnes of ancillary products and millions of fans, 35 years later an exciting new documentary has come in the form of Cleanin’ Up the Town: Remembering Ghostbusters. Directed by Anthony Bueno, and written by Anthony and Claire Bueno, Cleanin’ Up the Town has the potential to be the greatest documentary of all time. 

Over the course of a decade, Anthony Bueno and his team consisting of more than 10 producers, conducted interviews with 99% of Ghostbusters’ cast and crew, and captured an entire containment grid full of archive footage too. Cleanin’ Up the Town successfully works as both a retrospective and “making of” production, providing terrific coverage on the varying aspects that made Ghostbusters so successful, from the origins behind the surnames of the Ghostbusters to fire-testing the iconic Stay Puft Marshmallow Man outfit. There are so many different points of interest present, it’s amazing. The viewer is presented with so much intriguing information on filmmaking from a different period; a period only 35 years ago, but essentially light years ago in filmmaking terms, especially special effects and so on. As a fan, Cleanin’ Up the Town is gold. The ultimate fan service.        

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The great notion of documentary film is that, as a viewer, you experience not only the reinforcement of a subject or topic, but you are presented with new information. Documentaries are there for people to learn about something, and the best documentaries provide information that is new to at least someone, regardless of said information’s obscurity. In Cleanin’ Up the Town, there is an overwhelming abundance of intriguing information, tremendous recollections of the Ghostbusters production, and beautiful imagery.

There is a consistent ambience throughout, suggesting that Cleanin’ Up the Town was produced with pure love from a true fandom of Ghostbusters. Not once does this documentary feel false or studio manufactured. There is a rawness and beauty adding legitimacy to the cause. Technically, you could say that Cleanin’ Up the Town is generic –  standard interviews, archive etc. But because the content within is so supreme, a generically made documentary, becomes a great one. One of Cleanin’ Up the Town’s greatest strengths is that it goes way beyond the main cast of Ghostbusters – so much of the interview content comes from the crew, the 1984 film is remembered as a piece of iconic filmmaking, and more than just iconic star power.      

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There are, however, a few spooky elements. As a decade-old project, Bueno and his team were able to, obviously, acquire interviews with cast members who are no longer here. There is an utter heartbreak in seeing the late Harold Ramis on screen – not only because he subsequently passed on, but because Cleanin’ Up the Town establishes a feel of him still being alive. The same goes for David Margulies, who played the Mayor. 

The timing for Cleanin’ Up the Town is purely written in the stars: 35 years after the original Ghostbusters, 30 years after Ghostbusters II, and only a matter of months prior to the release of the next franchise instalment, this fabulous documentary should inspire you to get suited up and ready to catch ghosts. To put it lightly, Cleanin’ Up the Town is the ultimate film-based documentary. A treasure for any fanatic of Ghostbusters and must-see documentary for years to come.  

Cleanin’ Up the Town: Remembering Ghostbusters premieres at the BFI IMAX on 3rd December before going on theatrical release at selected cinemas. It will also be available on VOD from 27th January 2020, with a DVD and Blu-ray release to follow.

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