140 Character Movie Review – #140RVW
If you think you’re not going to enjoy this, you’re almost certainly right. It’s not made for you. That’s ok: watch how your kids eat it up.
Spoiler-free Movie Review of Ghostbusters (2016):
Since this will likely be a long review, let’s just get the basics down first: Ghostbusters, the 1984 film is a near perfect movie and in no way needed to be remade/rebooted. But it was always going to happen, so let’s just accept that fact and judge the movie that got made. Judgment: it is great fun and you’ll have a good time if you let yourself.
The amount that has been written about this film even before cameras began rolling would lead you to believe this is a cultural touchstone of great, even historic importance. It isn’t. It’s a movie. If you like it, great. If you don’t, great. Let’s not get carried away here, people…
Like many, I find the bile spewed by misogynistic internet trolls deeply disturbing. The fact that “people” would have such a blinding hatred for a movie – any movie – that they’d actually try to tank reviews and ratings in order to alter perception and make a picture fail is so bizarre and unsettling that it says a great deal about the nature of our “culture”. Look at that, two uses of quotes in one sentence – see what we’ve been reduced to…
Rather than enter into a long piece about the outright misogyny that I truly believe lies at the heart of much of the outrage over the 2016 Ghostbusters (they quietly renamed the picture Ghostbusters: Answer the Call recently, but since no one else seems to be calling it that I don’t see why I should), I’m going to take the haters at their word that this isn’t about sexism and focus strictly on their non-gender-based complaints. In effect, I’m ignoring the he-man woman haters and acknowledging that there are genuine good reasons to oppose the reboot of Ghostbusters.
Because you’re not wrong if you think this movie didn’t need to exist – it really doesn’t. In my reviews of Ghostbusters (1984) and Ghostbusters II (1989), I practically pleaded with the rights holders to let the franchise stay dormant. As you will have swiftly realized if you’ve read more than one of my reviews, I am disheartened by the whole remake/reboot modus operandi of Hollywood. So I didn’t really want them to make this picture.
The simple fact is that it was going to be made, however. Too many people, executives and creative talent alike wanted to keep the franchise going. Sure, not all of them, which is why Ghostbusters II was such a mixed bag and why it took 27 years to get some version of Ghostbusters back on screen, but the original picture was such a beloved hit that there really was no chance whatsoever that it wasn’t going to be <drumroll> resurrected. </rimshot>
So there’s no use whining that they shouldn’t have remade the film – they did. Get on board or stay away. Personally, I’m pulling on the proton pack. If it had to happen, I’m glad that this current team was at the helm. Because the idea of reimagining the modern team as female and populating it with some of the funniest women alive was inspired and almost entirely the reason I am behind the picture.
We made sure to go to see the film on opening night; it’s really important to vote with your wallet – if filmmakers can point to a strong opening for a film it helps convince the suits that there’s an audience and a financial reason to make movies that don’t insult half of the human race. Think about that the next time you consider waiting to see a picture at home.
My daughter was incredibly excited about the film. She even gave herself a haircut inspired by Kate McKinnon’s character earlier in the day (looks awesome). We got there early, picked up our complimentary Ghostbusters pins, took a picture by the ginormous cardboard standee and proceeded to have a great time. Everyone in the theater was howling and having a blast, even applauding at the end.
And I came to the important realization that the picture isn’t for me – it’s for the current generation. There’s really no purpose in comparing the new Ghostbusters with the old – this is something new.
Everyone goes through this at some point, but those of us who lived through the greatest years of cinema (the 1980’s don’cha know) with a historic run of franchises are probably among the guiltiest. We got to experience Star Wars and Star Trek and Indiana Jones and Terminator and Aliens and we think we have some ownership over these things because they were so integral to our coming of age. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – it’s great to be passionate about things you love. But we’re greedy about it. We want our memories to remain sacrosanct and turn positively feral when anyone tries to update “our” properties.
I think it’s telling that whether new Bond films please or disappoint, no one complains that their childhood is being violated. Perhaps it’s partly because the pictures are aimed at an older audience and so they didn’t get hard-wired into our formative years. But I think it has more to do with the fact that the franchise is so long-running that it doesn’t belong to any one generation. Same with Doctor Who. So why can’t we take the same view with our 80’s franchises? You can enjoy one version, one series, and another might miss you. So what?
We all have to be grown-ups about these things and, well, grow up. Our childhood was our childhood; we got to have one. Let someone else take a turn.
Soooo….how was the movie, pal?
For me it was a solid good. I enjoyed it very much. For my daughter it was nearly perfect – a mammoth hit. For my wife and I, it was a very funny and solid picture. It wasn’t amazing, but it was quite good.
Paul Feig, who rescued the picture from development hell, is a great fit for the story. He gets the tone right, which is the most important thing by far. Written by Feig and Katie Dippold (of Parks and Recreation & The Heat), the story is fine but not overwhelming – it’s a bit slight. So was the original.
The villain, played by Neil Casey is weak and lacking an interesting backstory. So was the original. See where I’m going with this? These films are greater than the sum of their parts. The mood, the feel, the commitment to entertain – this is what you need to aim for. And Ghostbusters does exactly that.
The story follows broadly the same rough structure as the first film, and if not horribly original, you can understand the split directive that comes with any remake/reboot; “make it like the original but not too like the original”.
Interestingly, in some ways this film is a little too wedded to the original picture. There’s a self-awareness and the inclusion of all the cameos and references pads what is already a long run-time. The movie comes in just under the two hour barrier, and there’s new content during the credits, mid-credits and in a post credit stinger. This film is just stuffed – there’s not a lot of room to breathe.
So I can understand why Feig went with the more is more approach. The other big reason he may have been tempted to cram everything in is that there’s so much good in there:
- the effects are really good
- despite Sony’s usual hallmarks (blatant product placement, antiseptic picture), the Boston for New York production looks pretty good
- right balance of scary/funny
- the new Ecto-1 is bangin’
- the new gear is pretty fun
Most importantly, the comedy is rock solid. These are some great comic actors. Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy and Leslie Jones are all riotous with great chemistry. Chris Hemsworth totally goes for it as dim-witted receptionist Kevin.
But the picture belongs to Kate McKinnon; as Dr. Jillian Holtzmann she damn near steals the whole show. I could watch another two-hour movie of the team just doing routine jobs if it meant getting to watch more Holtzmann shenanigans…
Ghostbusters is a fun movie. It’s not a masterpiece, it’s not an abomination – it’s a very good summer movie and likely to be one of the more fun pictures I see this season. If you don’t have a bone to pick with the very existence of this picture and just want a good time, then you know who to call…
The Representation Test Score: A (12 pts)
|Main Cast||Melissa McCarthy Abby Yates
Kristen Wiig Erin Gilbert
Kate McKinnon Jillian Holtzmann
Leslie Jones Patty Tolan
|Release Date||Fri 15 Jul 2016 UTC|
|Genres||Action, Comedy, Sci-Fi|
|Plot||Following a ghost invasion of Manhattan, paranormal enthusiasts Erin Gilbert and Abby Yates, nuclear engineer Jillian Holtzmann, and subway worker Patty Tolan band together to stop the otherworldly threat.|
|Tagline||Who you gonna call?|
|Writers||Katie Dippold (written by) &, Paul Feig (written by) …|