Dir: Paul Feig, 2016
A loving homage to a revered and adored classic? Or a trampling and destroying of a revered and adored classic?
The question is, is it a reboot or a remake? Well, it’s both. Feig wants to have his cake and eat it. Some scenes are direct recreations. Parts of the dialogue, are lifted verbatim. But, by reversing the genders, it tries to be a reboot.
We’re not going to get the yearned for Ghostbusters III (or IV, depending on whether you count the 2009 game). That’s pretty obvious.
So, what do you do? Bring it out, again, with new stars, writers and directors.
With a film like 1984’s Ghostbusters, you’re not going to get a fair opinion on this. Let me explain why:
Die hard fans of the film (“Ghostheads” as they are known) will love it, and embrace it, simply because it’s Ghostbusters. Casual fans of the film will automatically slam it, saying that it sullies the original, there’s no need for it, ruins the legacy, etc. Cinema goers who aren’t swayed one way or the other about the film, will pronounce it’s great, purely to shut the nay sayers up and prove them wrong.
As you can see, it’s a very difficult film to review. It’s all about people’s feelings.
Now, me, I love the the original and it’s sequel. I loved the cartoon (The Real Ghostbusters), loved the games on the Commodore 64, Nintendo, Sega and had all the toys. But, I’m not a “Ghosthead”.
The issue for me of whether it’s a good film or not, isn’t black and white because, I don’t like Paul Feig films.
Bridesmaids was tolerable, as was The Heat. I tend to find Melissa McCarthy annoying in, pretty much, everything she does. This is no exception.
Paul Feig seems to excel at female driven comedy. He has an agenda to push women performers. There’s nothing wrong with that. Women can be just as funny as men. Female orientated humour can be a scream. I’m just not sure, that this was the right vehicle for it.
Am I being biased, after growing up with the originals? Maybe. But, as the comedy is in the same vein as Feig’s other films, I have to doubt whether I really am. He is no Ivan Reitman.
None of the cast can match the characters portrayed by their male counterparts. I’m well aware, that they are not trying to emulate the originals but trying to develop new characters. And, that’s where we have a problem.
Kirsten Wiig is Dr. Erin Gilbert. In many ways, she’s the straight girl of the group. She encompasses an element of each, original, character. Wiig is Bill Murray’s Peter Venkman, but without the sarcastic, brilliant dryness that Murray brought to the role. Unfortunately, this renders her bland, forgettable and, ultimately, unoriginal.
Kate McKinnon is Dr. Jillian Holtzman. Essentially, McKinnon is the Egon Spengler character. Where as Harold Ramis’ Egon was very unemotional and dry, McKinnon’s Holtzman is over excitable, witty, sarcastic and rebellious. It is also hinted at, that the character is a lesbian, as is McKinnon herself. This doesn’t add anything to the character except to push a pro gay, outlook.
Melissa McCarthy as Dr. Abby Yates, is the embodiment of Dan Aykroyd’s Ray Stantz. Excitable, with a childlike demeanour. Her role in the film is to spout pseudo-scientific platitudes.
And, last but not least, is Leslie Jones as Patty Tolan. Jones, for obvious reasons, is Ernie Hudson’s Winston Zeddemore. The character does have some funny lines, but, it’s a shame that the director chose to go down the stereotypical road of portraying black women as loud and wise cracking with a penchant for gold jewellery.
If the actresses are trying to create new characters, then why are they so strongly imbued with the ghosts of the predecessors? That causes a confliction.
For a female dominated film, quite a few of the funny lines go to Chris Hemsworth’s Kevin, the male receptionist. Kevin is portrayed as an idiot, as most men are in women led comedies. However, this backfires as Hemsworth, often, upstages the main stars.
Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past year, it’s no secret that several of the 1984’s cast appear in cameos. And, they’re brilliant.
Bill Murray has never hidden his disdain at the thought of making Ghostbusters III. Whether this has anything to do with the falling out between him and Ramis is anyone’s guess. He did contribute his voice for the 2009 Atari game, so it makes you wonder.
Judging by his cameo, here, you get the impression that, maybe, he genuinely wasn’t, and isn’t, interested in becoming Peter Venkman, again. There is no effort in his role. He simply mumbles his lines and drags himself through his scenes, hoping for it to be over with quickly. After the death of Harold Ramis, I can’t help but feel that he did it out of loyalty to the franchise and Ramis, who he didn’t speak to for over twenty years and only made up with, just before his passing.
By far, the best cameo comes from Aykroyd. A short scene, (ghost) busting with references to his 1984 smash hit, it provides plenty of laughs and excitement.
Other cameos come from Sigourney Weaver, Ernie Hudson and Annie Potts and they’re all terrific.
Paul Feig doesn’t realise that less is more. With a humongous budget at his disposal, he throws everything into the CGI effects. There’s far too much going off at one time.
Transposing one element for another does not a new film, make. For the finale, he simply switches the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man for a different entity. But, it’s still Stay Puft at heart.
Being a “girl” movie, there is the obligatory, “friends forever” moment, complete with corny and cheesy dialogue. This takes you right out of the film. It should be gotten rid of.
As for the music, several cues are taken straight from Elmer Bernstein’s score for the original and linked up with the scenes that Feig, recreates from the original. At times, it almost feels like a scene for scene remake.
Ray Parker, Jr’s iconic theme, is played a number 0f times throughout the film, but all in different remixes or arrangements. And they’re awful. Nobody would have minded if the number one hit had been used.
Okay, it’s not a terrible film. It’s not a sensation, or even a triumph, either, but it could have been worse.
Wait until it comes on Netflix and watch it to satisfy your curiosity. Then, after, go and put the disc in of the original and see how it should be done.