By Mike Dodd and Conal Macbeth
So we all remember the trailer that came out, which started a great deal of controversy over this movie. A completely female cast, and a possible connection, story-wise, to the previous movies left a lot of people asking worried questions, including me.
I was, and still am, a huge fan of the classic Ghostbusters films. So right out of the gate, I knew it was going to be hard for me to get excited about a full reboot of the franchise. With new characters, a new story, and the targeted audience of a new generation, it was difficult to believe that this movie would do well. Historically, it has been nearly impossible for a franchise to reboot and satisfy both the die hard fans and the newcomers alike.
Yes, the first trailer bothered me. It rubbed me and a lot of the fandom the wrong way, but I still remained hopeful. I knew I must have had the nostalgia goggles on, that had to be it.
Now after viewing the film in its entirety I am confident enough to say, contrary to popular opinion, that YES, you should watch the new Ghostbusters movie. Here’s why.
- I don’t like watching comedy films alone. Things that would normally make me laugh out loud instead give rise to a simple smile or a brief chuckle. The same thing happens when I go see a movie at the theater alone. Everyone cheers at the jokes, and I find my reactions diminished by the lack of personal company. Now, I only had one ticket to the advanced screening and as such, I expected to find things funny but not gut busting.
I have never had to cover my mouth in a theater from laughing so hard, ever.
Now, that’s not to say that all of it was good material. About seventy percent of the jokes told in this film KILLED. They were well timed, masterfully executed, relevant to what was happening in the scene, and on point. But the other thirty percent fell pretty flat. At times, it felt like they were either trying too hard or the jokes being told were just out of place. I found myself sitting there several times thinking, “yeah I get it, you’re funny, move along”.
- The plot followed a simple line, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. It didn’t try to go anywhere painfully complex or tell more stories than it needed to. The best part for me was that this story differs from the original Ghostbusters in a very key way: this is not a movie about people trying to make a living by catching ghosts. It’s about people trying to catch a ghost to prove that ghosts even exist in the first place! That is super important to keep in mind. I found myself thinking “Hey, THAT’S not how proton packs work,” before remembering that they established the classic ghost busting equipment a bit differently this time around. If you are a die hard fan of the original films, try to pay close attention to what they did differently and how that’s not always a bad thing.
Occasionally, it got off track and talked about the characters in depth, more so than the original did, but only to give them context and to reveal things that you needed to know about them. That was good, but more than a few times, some shit happened that made no sense.
It’s hard to talk about it without spoiling anything. But there’s a joke about Pringles, a dance number, some people’s hair turns white, a bit where Kevin throws a sandwich around, and a final boss style conflict, all of which made no damn sense to me. There was a cliff-hanger in the beginning of the film that leaves someone dangling for dear life with no chance to get out alive- and in the next scene he’s fine. That was so jarring to me that I actually thought he was a clone or possessed or something, because there’s no way he could have survived the previous scene.
Slimer shows up, an iconic ghost from the original Ghostbusters movie, and everything about the green little turd was beyond stupid to me. Every ghost in this movie looks like a scary dead person EXCEPT Slimer. I feel like they were trying to reference the annoying side character from the cartoon show instead of the first film. Oh wait; there was the bit with the balloons. What the hell, man.
- Speaking of the ghosts, with the exception of the aforementioned cartoon blunder, they were AMAZING. There were times during the film that I was actually scared, and this was, in my opinion, a big step away from the original Ghostbusters in a GOOD way. The ghosts in the originals were scary and pestered people, but were never confirmed as being actually dangerous. The ghosts in the Paul Feig remake on the other hand, were legitimately threatening, and in some cases, even lethal. Personally, I think that was a fantastic move. In order to be truly terrifying, a monster needs to do more than just look scary. It has to be dangerous as well.
- The characters astounded the hell out of me, in a good and bad way.
To start off, Leslie Jones’ character Patty practically stole the show, which was awesome because Leslie actually garnered the most concern from me originally. As an actor on SNL, a lot of her humor, I felt, translated to, “if I yell really loud, it’ll make it funny”. Can’t say I’m a huge fan of that, but much of what she did in this film is gold. She seemed to blissfully miss all the jokes in the script that fell flat. On top of that, her character adds so much more to this movie than Winston ever did in the original two Ghostbusters movies combined. She’s street smart, wise, positive, and tough. I loved it.
Katie McKinnon’s character, Jillian Holtzman, was a weird balancing act. Her character was portrayed as manic and unhinged, like a bit too mad of a mad scientist. Which was awesome for the most part, but there were times where it felt like the film tried TOO hard for her to be random and crazy. She did these little tech updates throughout the film where she talks about how she improved the ghost-catching gear, which were fun. I loved how the equipment evolved through the film. Yet these scenes were rushed and packed with a LOT of tech jargon. I felt like Paul was trying to really force how smart this character was, which wasn’t all that necessary.
Kristen Wiig’s character, Erin Gilbert, was a great vehicle to bring the viewer into the film, and I loved that they really got into her story, who she was and why she made her decisions. It was something that they never got into in the old Ghostbusters, and I feel like that was a missed opportunity. However, she came across a little TOO pathetic in some scenes.
Melissa McCarthy had done a lot of great work with director/writer, Paul Feig, in the past. With movies like Spy, Bridesmaides, and The Heat, it’s no surprise that this movie comes with a similar style of comedy. That’s really only a bad thing if you hated all the aforementioned movies. So all in all, McCarthy stood her ground in this movie in a way that was legitimately inspiring to me. She was most certainly not a Mary Sue, she had her character flaws, but by and large, she was a fantastic lead to the cast.
Chris Hemsworth was a surprising addition to the cast as the receptionist, Kevin. It was obvious that he replaced Janine in the new film, but with an unfortunate twist, sort of. Here’s the thing, in much the same way that Holtzman came across as a little too crazy sometimes or trying too hard, Kevin came across as too stupid. There were so many things that he said and did that were funny and enjoyable. He was playfully stupid, and kind of enjoyably stupid, but at other times he just made me cringe. He quickly became the poster boy for overly attractive hopeless morons who get through life on their looks and dumb luck. So while Kevin was a fun addition to the team, there were times when I seriously wondered how he survived as long as he did.
So Neil Casey played the villain, yet another Saturday Night Live addition. While I enjoyed the antagonist of a Ghostbusters film actually having relatable writing, motivations and a decent script behind them for once, he also came across as a bit TOO evil, a little TOO crazy. Like there was no conceivable way this man should have been allowed to walk about in polite society, let alone have a job or go unsupervised for any amount of time. He’s BANANAS. It sort of goes along with the theme of the film a bit, but it wasn’t enough for me to stop myself from shaking my head every time he was on screen and talking. Like, I get it, the writers wanted to ground the antagonist a bit more. Let’s not have an off putting, inexplicable god/warlock show up by random chance at the end of the movie to fight our cast of characters. Let’s make the bad guy a person who is just as smart as the Ghostbusters, a tangible bad guy. They even used him as a plot device to explain why ghosts have never been a thing before now, but then they added an extra ingredient to the concoction: Snidely flippin’ Whiplash.
- I have never seen a movie reference its predecessor so hard. There were about a dozen subtle nods to the fandom, which came across as clever and fun, but never left the moviegoers who had not seen the original Ghostbusters movies stranded and confused. Then there were these other references that were like a ham to the face; obvious and ridiculous. God help you if you haven’t seen the original Ghostbusters, because if so, these scenes would have made no damn sense whatsoever. These parts would have seemed out of place and disjointed. I mean, they even referenced the YouTube comments from their trailers for Christ’s sake.
The entire cast of the original Ghostbusters shows up, with the exception of Rick Moranis, to do cameos in this movie. Some are large, others are small. Some are subtle and others obvious. Good or bad though, they were silly and stupid and a load of fun.
Finally, after watching the movie and reading the movie novelization from Tor books, a lot of it clicked and made parts of the film connect in a rich way. It’s a nice companion piece, which works either before or after seeing the film.
In the end, the highs are really high and the lows are just low enough to notice. It’s worth a watch, and I urge you to stay after the credits. You’ll be glad you did.
Bustin’ made me feel good once again, and hopefully you’ll take a chance too in theaters this summer.