Alright, I’m finally writing about the big one of the week. The subject of a ton of controversy. I… want to say more clever things to introduce my review of this movie, but as of this moment, it’s 9:45 in the morning and my creative juices are not awake yet. But get ready for a long review because there’s a lot to talk about before jumping into the review itself.
But here’s what I can talk about: the Ghostbusters franchise. I didn’t see the first movie until much later in life. Sure, I’ve seen snippets here and there, but never actually sat down to watch the movie all the way through until about a few years ago. And you know what? I really liked it. It was well-written, it was hilarious, and it was a ton of fun. Sure, most of the effects are dated now, but some hold up enough to make it a classic.
It wasn’t long after that I caught the sequel on Netflix. I admit that I don’t remember the movie nearly as much, aside from the on/off again romance between Bill Murray’s Venkman and Sigourney Weaver’s Dana, but I remember liking it well enough. Not nearly as good, but not nearly as bad as it could have been.
Of course, fast-forward to the new millennium, talks about a Ghostbusters III have been circling for years thanks to the efforts of Dan Aykroyd. Even though Harold Ramis sadly passed away in 2014, Aykroyd really wanted to get this off the ground. If I remember correctly, Murray passed on the project for awhile before eventually caving in. But if matters needed to get complicated, the announcement of a Ghostbusters with an all-female cast had cropped up. Considering how much of a surge in gender equality in Hollywood there is, as well as feminism as a whole becoming a household topic of discussion, it shouldn’t come as a surprise. So, wow, both a Ghostbusters III and a reboot? Or maybe it’d be a “passing of the torch” sort of deal? Who knew? Hell, once that first trailer cropped up, “30 years ago, four scientists saved New York” kind of gave the impression that this was going to be a “passing of the torch.” But no other released trailer ever showed hide or hair of any of the original cast. The consensus was that this was a straight reboot and, at best, we’d get cameos.
I think it’s fair to say that we won’t be getting that Ghostbusters III after all. And after seeing more trailers of this movie, this was quickly shaping up to be a bad idea. The effects weren’t very good, the presented jokes were forced and unfunny, and none of it (aside from the famous Ghostbusters theme) really resembled the original in tone or intelligence. It was very understandably getting a thrashing online, both for good and bad reasons. The good reasons: because of how it looked awful. The bad reasons: that it was an all-female cast (yeah, that was a thing).
Look, I’m not sure if I can label myself a “feminist,” mostly because I find it sad that we live in a society where we need a name for “I believe women deserve equal rights in America.” It’s just something I grew up knowing and feeling. Women are awesome, beautiful, powerful, and a slew of other adjectives and adverbs that I can use, so I’ve never understood why they’ve always been objectified and belittled beyond pornography, and even then, that can be debated. To hear so many of the horror stories about how women are treated in the mainstream entertainment industry, it’s sickening to hear. But this is probably a discussion for another time. The point is, I have no problems with an all-female cast of Ghostbusters.
What I do have a problem with is whether or not the script was written with intellect and if it had a solid director and set of actors to bring out the funny. The trailer was not showcasing any of this. But who knows, bad trailers to good movies have happened before. Look at the crew behind this, for God sake! The director is Paul Feig, who directed such hits like BRIDESMAIDS, THE HEAT, and SPY, all critically praised (and all starring Melissa McCarthy). Feig’s co-writer on this film is Kate Dippold, who has written a few episodes of the TV show PARKS AND REC as well as wrote THE HEAT. Melissa McCarthy is usually a miss for me as far as her work is concerned, but I really liked SPY and she worked with Kristen Wiig on BRIDESMAIDS. So these folks all seemed like they’d work well together, and the inclusion of SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE veterans Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones should have made this a solid movie. But how did it hold up? Should we give this new generation a call to bust some ghosts, or are we better off just letting Gozer have his way with the world?
This is my honest opinion of: GHOSTBUSTERS (2016)
Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) is a university professor up to bat for tenure. But then something happens. An unpopular book that she co-wrote with her friend, Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) documenting paranormal occurrences surfaces. Thing is, that book wasn’t meant to be published. Confronting Abby directly about the publication, she doesn’t care about the backlash and took pride that she took this step. Their altercation is cut short, however, when Abby gets a call from a tour guide of an old house that still has the ghost of its murderous resident. Erin and Abby, aided by Abby’s new and eccentric assistant Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), they confront the ghost, but it escapes. But the confrontation was captured on video and was met with proclamations that the video is a hoax. Soon, an MTA worker named Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) joins their newly established Ghostbusters team after she introduces them to a ghost that attacked her in the subway. It becomes apparent that the city is becoming unnaturally plagued with ghost uprisings and that someone is behind it, unbeknownst to them, the culprit being Rowan North (Neil Casey). So begins a mission to save the city from an apocalypse of apparitions.
WAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!! *sniffle, sniffle*
Oh my god, guys, it’s awful. Like, really awful. We’re talking FANT4STIC awful. The kind of awful where everyone knew it was going to be awful, but had no idea it’d be that awful! Did I mention it was awful?
Okay, before any of you “pro-males dominating everything and women are inferior” bastards say anything, this movie isn’t atrocious because it stars women. No, plenty of comediennes are funny. Amy Schumer, Iliza Shlesinger, Jen Kirkman, Chelsea Handler, Morgan Murphy, the list can go on. WOMEN WERE NOT THE PROBLEM WITH THIS MOVIE!!! Bad writing was… and that responsibility lands squarely on both Feig and Dippold’s shoulders, which funny enough, is probably part of the definition of equality: equal responsibility when they fuck shit up.
This movie is a product of modern day comedies in believing that all an audience needs a punchline with no set-up, or having a set-up, but a weak punchline. For example, you might remember this scene from the trailer. Abby gets possessed by a ghost and attempts to kill Holtzmann, but Patty steps in and saves her and proceeds to slap the ghost out of Abby’s body. One slap, the ghost is out. So why does Patty slap Abby again? The ghost isn’t invisible when it leaves Abby. It’s cheap slapstick that only children would enjoy. Or there’s this running gag with Abby trying to order Chinese food from a restaurant that always brings, for example, wonton soup that is all broth and maybe one wonton. Abby even comments that this is recurring even before the audience is aware. Hear me out on this one, in real life, if a restaurant constantly gets your order wrong, then you wouldn’t order from there anymore, right? So why does Abby? She never comments how amazing the food is. She never comments what benefits come from ordering there. She just orders food… and it constantly arrives to her wrong. Maybe the visual novelty of seeing a single wonton at the bottom of a a bucket full of broth is humorous once, but the logic of constantly ordering from a place that does this takes me out of the joke. And this happens three times in the movie.
Beyond that, I can tell that the actors are putting forth energy and trying to be funny, but some of the characters are kind of annoying. If constant unfunny jokes aren’t ruining them, character choices are. There’s a scene at a Ozzy Osbourne concert where the ladies are tracking down a single dragon ghost (yeah, explain that one). We get just a little too much screen time with Patty complaining about being a Ghostbuster and making comments on how her job in the subway may not have been perfect, but it was safe. So… what’s stopping her from going back? Even in the middle of the battle, and the dragon ghost (seriously, was this a thing in the original and I just didn’t notice?) perches on her shoulders, Patty just decides that she’s going home. I don’t remember a single character in the original that hated being a Ghostbuster. They loved what they did, they embraced it. Sure, it’d be an update if at least one character had doubts, but it’s literally only this one sequence of events that shows Patty’s hesitation with her new occupation. Why bring it up if it’s never going to be explored?
And Holtzmann… man, I was lead to believe that McKinnon would be the scene-stealer of the movie. She’s probably the most forgettable. At least McCarthy and Wiig have star power on their side to be memorable (granted, not in an exciting way), and Jones is the token black character, so she’s got that going for her, but McKinnon’s crazy and eccentric Holtzmann isn’t given a single memorable line, and any lines that she has are almost mumbled or said so fast that you can’t understand her. I know she’s trying and I’d believe you if you told me that she’s hilarious on SNL, but… it doesn’t translate to a good or memorable performance in this movie. When we’re introduced to Abby and Holtzmann, we’re told by Abby that Holtzmann is loyal friend. Thing is, telling us a personality trait that someone has isn’t the same as showing us who she is. She never expresses her loyalty in any meaningful way. She’s just the crazy yet smart tech expert, but no real personality to show for it.
This is the absolute cardinal sin of the flick: zero effort. Holtzmann is a stock character that you’ve seen before in better and equally bad movies, so is Abby, Erin, Patty, and Kevin (Chris Hemsworth). Dragon ghosts and twelve story tall ghosts don’t make sense, plot elements are thrown in and don’t contribute to the plot, cameos are shoehorned in, and once more, THE JOKES AREN’T FUNNY!!!
I’m aware that McCarthy has released statements that the film is great and she had fun doing it. I believe half that; she had fun doing the movie. This cast and crew is probably phenomenal to work with and they’re all probably really good friends. I’ve personally always said it myself, even if you work on a piece of shit movie, but you had such a blast doing it and would do it again, I can’t judge that. I can’t tell McCarthy, or Wiig, or anyone that worked on this movie to be ashamed to be a part of this (despite the tremendous temptation), but this is still the entertainment industry, I consider myself a film critic, and success is determined by popularity, and if something isn’t popular, it’s probably because it sucks. McCarthy, cast and crew alike, the movie isn’t great… at all. Your feelings toward making it are yours to have, I have no right to speak on that matter, but… yeah, this movie was garbage and felt like it was catered to toddlers more than the audience that actually wanted a Ghostbusters movie and grew up on the original. Effects didn’t make the original good, slapstick didn’t make the original good, it was intelligent writing, memorable characters, and a crap-load of enjoyability. This reboot fails on all accounts.
My honest rating for GHOSTBUSTERS (2016): 1/5
That’s all the movies for this week everyone! Thanks for reading, hope you enjoy my thoughts. But the next batch is around the corner, so keep your eyes peeled for the next wave.
Upcoming movies to be reviewed:
- STAR TREK BEYOND (sci-fi/adventure)
- Directed by Justin Lin (FAST & FURIOUS, FAST FIVE, and FAST & FURIOUS 6)
- Co-written by Simon Pegg (STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, HOT FUZZ, and SHAUN OF THE DEAD) and Doug Jung (TV shows BANSHEE [2 episodes], and DARK BLUE [creator])
- Stars Chris Pine (THE FINEST HOURS, STAR TREK , PRINCESS DIARIES 2: THE ROYAL ENGAGEMENT [because it’s too hilarious to not point out]), Zachary Quinto (HITMAN: AGENT 47, STAR TREK , and TV show AMERICAN HORROR STORY), Idris Elba (FINDING DORY, THOR, and TV show THE WIRE) and more.
- ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS: THE MOVIE (comedy)
- Directed by Mandie Fletcher (TV shows IN AND OUT OF THE KITCHEN [3 episodes], and ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS [2011-2012; 3 episodes])
- Written by Jennifer Saunders
- Stars Jennifer Saunders (MINIONS, CORALINE, and TV show ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS), and Joanna Lumley (ME BEFORE YOU, THE WOLF OF WALL STREET, and TV show ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS)
- ICE AGE: COLLISION COURSE (animated comedy adventure)
- Directed by Galen T. Chu (directorial feature length debut) and Mike Thurmeier (ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT)
- Written by Michael J. Wilson (SHARK TALE, THE TUXEDO, and ICE AGE) , Michael Berg (ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT, DAWN OF THE DINOSAURS, and ICE AGE), Yoni Brenner (RIO 2, ICE AGE: DAWN OF THE DINOSAURS). Story credit: Aubrey Soloman (PROGENY, TV shows ROBOCOP [1994 – 1 episode], and HIGHLANDER [1993 – 1 episode])
- Stars voice talents of Ray Romano (ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT, and TV shows EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND and MEN OF A CERTAIN AGE), John Leguizamo (THE INFILTRATOR, CHEF, and THE SUPER MARIO BROS.), Denis Leary (DRAFT DAY, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, and TV show RESCUE ME), Queen Latifa (MIRACLES FROM HEAVEN, ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT, and BRINGING DOWN THE HOUSE), and more.
- LIGHTS OUT (horror)
- Produced by James Wan (The Conjuring films and FURIOUS 7).
- Directed by David S. Sandberg (feature-length directorial debut)
- Written by Eric Heisserer (THE THING , FINAL DESTINATION 5, and NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET )
- Stars Teresa Palmer (TRIPLE 9, WARM BODIES, and I AM NUMBER FOUR), Gabriel Bateman (ANNABELLE), and Maria Bello (THE 5TH WAVE, PRISONERS, and A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE)