Peter Venkman – the great GamerJune 16, 2012
You wanna learn how to pick up a girl? Who you gonna call….
Few nights ago I put on Ghostbusters for the hell of it. This movie was the absolute best movie of 1984. I recall when my parents had just bought us the behemoth JVC VHS recorder unit, and opened up an account at our local Video99 rental joint. The first two movies we ever played on it were 2001 Space Odyssey and you guessed it, Ghostbusters.
As a kid with a new techno toy to play with, what’s your natural first reaction? CALL IN SICK! Yup, my very first hookey experience. <cough cough> I was a space nut so i put 2001 in first. After watching some monkey’s jumping around a big black brick for 10 minutes, i hit the eject button in disgust. Well, there’s one movie done. In goes Ghostbusters and let me tell you, i watched that movie 3 times that day.
As a kid, the movie is just priceless in terms of comedy, but the real gems in it are when you grow up and are mature enough to gauge how the characters are portrayed in a social sexual interactions and mannerisms that you never clued in on as a kid because you thought girls had cooties. But man o man.. Bill Murry’s character was pure gold and i’m sure he infused a lot of his own personality into Pete Venkman. Word on the set is he ad-libbed a shit ton of his own lines and timing. The results speak for themselves. There’s a reason he has his face on a Chive T-shirt.
Now, i don’t have access to separate clips scattered about on YouTube so what i’m going to do is chronologically order his gamesmanship by time stamp and explain the genius of what he does in that scene. So grab some corn, crack open a cold one (Molson 67 for me) and le’ts proceed.
2:45 – Electro shock therapy
This scene speaks for itself. The subtle flirtations between him and the blonde as he builds up her ego with false positives of her abilities is priceless. He purposefully looks to her for approval to shock the poor bastard. The ending where he allows her to finish his sentence by using her ‘abilities’ is just epic.
16:46 – Meet Louis Tully
Not really applicable but fun just to note all the things he does to impress Dana. Rick Morranis pulls off all the mannerisms perfectly of a shy awkward beta (omega even?) in listing off as many things as possible in a short span of time, his 10 minute workout, his heatlh food kick, his accounting party, even the fact he climbed out on the window ledges (lol) to try and get into her building to turn the TV off. This is beyond friendzone, he’s taking the initiative on being utilized.
22:25 – The Calvary
Here Peter first sides with Dana about not believing in any of those paranormal things (even tho its his job) as it allows him to mockingly feign agreement with her views. It also sets up a moment for him to get extra close during this moment of validation. So when Egon and Ray discuss the practical things they will be doing (research) Pete gets to play white knight and check Dana out.. er.. check out Dana’s apartment. (quick recovery, love that face) Even tho played for comic relief, the innuendo drop works well as he plays it off as if she misheard what she thought she heard. The seed is planted.
Show of dominance and strength by going through the door to be the first to take a bullet. His quizzical question regarding space answers the question of whether anyone lives with her or not, helps to determine her relationship status. His refusal to answer what his ‘device’ is, just brushing it aside as being to technical for her to understand, making himself out to be high value for intelligence. Tho at this point i’d say she’s smiling because she can sense his bullshit, but she is enjoying it. More overt innuendo regarding the bedroom where nothing ever happens. Dana’s facial reaction to Pete’s comment is priceless. He just validated her sexually as being super fuckable without actually having to say it at all. Once again dominant forceful opening of the door protecting Dana while entering the kitchen. The set up for the fridge supposedly containing a dog shaped demigod named Zuul instead turns into a perfect neg opportunity by mocking the food Dana eats, turning light what should have been a scary situation. This leads her to believe he isn’t taking her seriously so she ramps up the emotional quotient to get the good Dr. to believe in her story and for him to validate she’s not crazy. He does, but in a sensual rather than clinical manner which escalates the tension.
Venkman goes for broke confidently goes in for the wild finish, with an obviously satirical ‘im madly in love with you’ comment, knowing full well it’s not true and likely to be rejected out of hand, but he’s already prepped his exit speech knowing she’s going to kick him out. The whole time she ushers him out he’s making more of a spectacle of himself, in a comical self depreciating manner, which he then flips around and offers a solution for his own problems. He’s going to save the day and win her heart! Tell me, when she closes the door after pushing his face out of the way that she’s not going to be thinking about him for the rest of the week! You can tell by the way he saunters down the hallway he knows he’s in.
40:59 – The Answer Man
Pete comes around with answers for Dana. He teases/negs in the same line by saying he could make out Dana’s performance and that it was the best of the whole orchestra. (of which it would be virtually impossible to differentiate one single instrument unless it was unique). Dana affirms to Pete that he’s become a celebrity now (status/high value). Continues to push for a private gathering to exchange the info (confidence) and subtly turning it into a date. She resists but her smiles are telling Pete she’s down so he pushes some more and whimsically states that he doesn’t do this for his other clients (preselection innuendo?). And then to seal the deal he validates her saying he respects her, followed very quickly by a quick neg about her fashion just to return the levity and humor back to end on a laughing note where she agrees to his date.
47:22 – Poor Louis
I feel bad for him here. Soooooo bad. He’s just looking for a tiny sliver of hope to stay in her orbit even after she remarks she has a date. His face lights up just knowing he’s going to be able to bask in her presence later on, if only ever for a sliver of time.
52:55 – Peter meets Zuul
Here Peter actually shows real alpha traits, where it’s not just for show. Although he’s still making light banter with Zuul, he understands the gravity of what’s going on and actually is very protective of not allowing anything to happen to Dana’s body while Zuul is controlling her. He’s showing concern for her welfare, even tho Dana herself is consciously unaware of his actions. This probably also makes the ladies in the theatre wet as he shows he’s not all jokes and douchebaggery but has a sensitive caring side.
59:34 – The Guardian
Peter has been watching keeping constant vigil over Dana. Shows some beta compassion and lovey dovey acts of affection just before he leaves to meet up with the others.
1:32:04 – BBQ Dog Hair
Peter shows real emotion over thinking she got crispified. He goes to great lengths to break her free from the burnt dog shell. Once Louis starts yelling for help he directs ALL of his cohorts to help Louis so that he will be the only person she first lays her eyes on (savior hero complex). It’s a lock at this point and Pete gets to move in for a kiss during the credits. He wins the girl, saves the city, and gets to run red lights in NYC.
This was just my personal take on it. I’m not uber versed in Game methodology and am working from a limited knowledge base, but Peter Venkman seems to run a perfect GAME run from my point of view. He’s not a stereotypical ladies man, handsome, rugged or slick. Yet he comes off absolutely as the ladies man in this film. Perhaps some others will view it and make their own commentaries on his performance and techniques he applied. Have at it in the comments.
God damn it i miss the 80’s.