Story

Ghostbusters is a remake of the classic 1984 comedy action movie. It follows the exploits of paranormal scientists Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) and Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), nuclear engineer Jillian Holtzman (Kate McKinnon), and ex-subway worker Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) as they set out to prove that ghosts really do exist in New York. Their quest is made easier when the deranged Rowan North (Neil Casey) invents a device that creates a portal to allow ghosts to enter the world and wreak havoc. Casey is determined to bring about the apocalypse.

The Ghostbusters must stop North and prevent demonic ghosts from destroying New York city.

Themes

Ghosts and the supernatural; demonic possession; the apocalypse

Violence

Ghostbusters has action violence and peril, much of which is cartoon-like and meant to be funny. It also has scenes that show mass destruction of property. The movie doesn’t show blood and gore. For example:

  • A man guiding a tour of a mansion tells people that in 1894 the daughter of the mansion’s owner stabbed to death the household servants. These servants now appear as ghosts sometimes. The man says that after the killings the father locked his daughter in a cellar. She died there years later and her body was walled up in the cellar.
  • A woman releases a ghost from a trap. It explodes from the trap, picks up a man sitting in a chair and throws the man out of the window.
  • A man attaches himself to a large machine and electrocutes himself. We see his skeleton as he is electrocuted. He falls down dead.
  • Green mist erupts out of a sink drain and engulfs the head of a woman. She smiles in a demonic way, which suggests that she has been possessed. She enters a laboratory and begins to smash equipment, then knocks down one woman while grabbing a second woman by the throat, dangling her out of the window and letting her go. The woman is caught by a third woman who then slaps the possessed woman several times hard across the face. A green mist shoots out of the possessed woman’s body.
  • A man possessed by a demon spirit punches one policeman in the face while grabbing a second by the throat, lifting him into the air and slamming him against a wall. The man kicks both policemen while they’re lying on the ground.
  • A man grabs a red-hot doorknob and burns his hand. An invisible ghost throws a chair at the man, and then hurls him through the air across the room and into a wall, cracking plaster. The man runs into the basement where he finds the floor breaking apart and green, glowing slime rising up out of the cracks. The man then runs up a staircase, which collapses underneath him as he is engulfed in green mist.
  • Four women armed with techno weapons and gadgets confront an army of ghosts. The women use laser rifles that fire coils of electrical energy that restrain the ghosts. They use handguns that emit bolts of energy that blow ghosts backwards and grenades that explode in green light that vaporises ghosts. One of the women uses two handguns in a stylised way to shoot several ghosts. At the end of the battle many smoking ghost carcasses lie on the ground.
  • A man-sized ghost appears in a skyscraper and grows until it breaks open the building. It marches through the city streets, destroying buildings and crushing cars. People run away in terror.
  • A giant ghost drags a woman into a vortex. A second woman hooks a cable to her belt and jumps into the vortex to rescue the first woman. The second woman floats around in the vortex until she can grab the first woman. They’re pulled to safety as the vortex closes behind them. 

Content that may disturb children

Under 5
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, the many ghosts and transformations in Ghostbusters are likely to be particularly scary for children under five years. For example:

  • Some of the ghosts are shown as floating, transparent, emaciated people with skeletal faces, glowing red eyes and green slime coming from their mouths.
  • One ghost appears as a younger woman who floats through the air as if under water, with her long hair flowing out around her.
  • Two ghosts appear as large shapeless jelly-like blobs with mouths and eyes. They flirt with each other while recklessly driving a car, crashing into other cars and building walls.
  • One scene shows cartoon-like images of a giant snowman-like creature with massive shark-like teeth.
  • A shop mannequin comes to life and chases a woman, who runs into a room and locks the door. The mannequin kicks down the door but is shot with power beams. It transforms into a winged demon that rises up into the air. The demon terrorises a concert hall full of people (no injuries are shown) before being shot.
  • Throughout the movie there are images of ghosts and demon creatures trapped in mirrors. They push their hands against the mirrors as if trying to escape.
  • A woman who is possessed by a demon rotates her head around 360 degrees.

From 5-8
Children in this group are also likely to be disturbed by the scenes and characters mentioned above.

From 8-13
Children in this age group might also be scared by the violent and scary scenes mentioned above.

Over 13
Younger children in this age group might be disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above.

Sexual references

Ghostbusters has low-level covert sexual references and innuendo throughout. For example:

  • A woman covered in slime says, ‘That stuff went everywhere – I mean every crack’.
  • A woman tells a man that her name begins with an E, which she says is an E for ‘everything you want’.
  • At a job interview a woman interviewing a man asks him if he is seeing anyone at the moment. A second woman mentions that she likes the idea of being able to look at the man at their office.
  • A man shows a Ghostbusters logo that looks like a female ghost with comically large breasts.
  • A woman says she is attracted to husky men in hats.
  • A woman licks her two handguns in a suggestive way.
  • A woman asks a second woman if she got her virginity out of the lost and found.

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

Ghostbusters shows some use of substances. For example:

  • A woman says jokingly, ‘Am I on crack?’
  • A woman says, ‘I’d talk to you at an AA meeting’.
  • The Mayor of New York City suggests that terrorists drugged the water supply resulting in mass hallucinations.
  • Characters drink socially in a bar and restaurant.

Nudity and sexual activity

Ghostbusters has some partial nudity and sexual activity. For example:

  • A woman bends over her desk moving her bottom in a sensual way in time to dance music. A man looks on.
  • In several scenes a woman wears a ‘boob tube’ that exposes her midriff.
  • A man holds up photographs that show him with a bare chest.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in Ghostbusters: Sony video cameras, food products (chips), eBay, Amazon and YouTube. 

Coarse language

There is coarse language and crude humour throughout Ghostbusters.

Ideas to discuss with your children

Ghostbusters is an entertaining comedy horror movie targeted at teenagers and adults. It’s a humorous remake of the 1984 movie, with a gender swap for many roles and cameo appearances from the stars of the earlier movie.

Children over 14 years are likely to enjoy this movie, but there is plenty to scare young children. Therefore we don’t recommend it for children under 12 years, and we suggest parental guidance for children aged 12-14 years.

These are the main messages from this movie:

  • Believe in yourself regardless of what others think.
  • Women can do whatever men can do.
  • Friendship and teamwork can triumph over insurmountable odds.

You could talk with your children about what the movie is saying about gender roles.