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LONG BLOG

My Review of Ghostbusters (2016) - Minor Spoilers

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Personally, I had a great time.  It wasn't perfect, but comedies these days pack in the jokes-per-minute and this was no different.  There's good zingers here and plenty of them.  If you're a fan of Spy and The Heat (the Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy movies), you'll probably like this too.  If anything, it's more a part of that meta-series of movies than anything else.

My History With Ghostbusters

My first expereince with Ghostbusters was seeing the second movie as a kid, then the first movie years later.  My impression was that they were okay movies, but very enjoyable ones.  Years later, when I started seeing the internet hate for the second movie, I was confused by it.  Still am.  They're basically the same movie, right?  Well, having the whole city think the first movie was a hoax is incredibly stupid.  But to be honest, I love Vigo's servant in the second movie more than any other character in the series.  He's a lot of fun.  I haven't seen either movie in a long time.  Point is, Ghostbusters being sacred makes no sense to me.  The movies didn't even take themselves seriously.

And We're Back

I went into this wanting to see a Paul Feig/Melissa McCarthy movie and I got one. If that's what you want, go nuts with no reservations. But what if you're obsessed with Ghostbusters? How does it dovetail with the great "classics"? It varies.

Some things feel organic and work well in this universe (I'm calling it another universe). For instance, the hearse works here. They point out how messed-up it is that they're dolling-up a hearse and talk about whether there could still be a body in there. The proton packs are also something that they develop from an earlier version on a cart, which makes their existence more credible. And later, they take the tech further and create some cool fan-fic weapons that still fit the aesthetic and concept.

But other things, like Slimer showing up for no reason and a forced-feeling final boss stage, feel tacked-on. It's like somebody said they had to be there. Also, the way they discover the logo is super dumb. Any time they call back to the original series directly, it doesn't work. But the good news is, the original stuff works. The movie is torn between being a fresh reboot and having to reference older stuff that doesn't need to be in this movie at all. Such is the fate of reboots.

My History With Slimer

Even as a kid, I was never impressed with Slimer.  I wasn't exactly offended by it's existence, but the stupid thing did nothing for me.  It's basically a living gross-out joke for kids.  I hate Slimer on a conceptual level.  The thing feels like a living bad logo, that only has one joke, and it's not even a funny joke.  So when Slimer shows up here, it was not a magical moment.  He feels like an intruder to this universe.  He shows up to remind you why Ghostbusters was not the laser-beam-from-heaven you think you remember.  Basically, Slimer is trash, was always trash, and continues to be trash.

Characters

People will inevitably compare these Ghostbusters side-by-side with the originals, and that's kinda sad in a way. They match-up with the same archetypes, but that's about it. Nobody is trying to replicate Bill Murray or Dan Aykroyd. This cast is doing their own thing: whatever they're good at. Melissa McCarthy is still doing the role she's been doing all along. You either like it or you don't. But it fits the story pretty well. It's an underdog story about kooky geeks that people think are crazy and pathetic, until they get shit done with hard work. It's her whole thing, so why not use it?

The new kook character, Holtzmann, is awesome. She's designed to be both comic relief and cool-rebel-you-want-to-be-when-you-grow-up. It works. I could absolutely feel how this character was engineered to be the appealing scrappy role model. I don't care. I'm a dude and I want to be this woman. I hope girls see this movie and become Holtzmann and you should too.

So let's talk about Kevin. Chris Hemsworth plays the Ghostbusters' receptionist as the dumbest person he can portray. Some have called this sexist, because he is a man that sucks and there is no "good" man to even that out. I don't think that's the problem. They should have gone even more outrageous with the stupidity. Some moments work, but it's when his stupidity goes extreme. The running gag gets uneven results. Maybe if he wasn't happy the whole movie. I think they were going for Steve Carrel's character from Anchorman or something. But Hemsworth doesn't play a caricature. The dude seems normal until he talks. It's oddly unsettling for some reason. I think it's because he doesn't have the same level of self-awareness as everyone else. He thinks he's totally normal and seems normal until he does something. It's really weird.  It can go from uncomfortable, to funny, to uncomfortable again.

Does this move do anything better than the original?

The origin story is better. That's not exactly the draw here, but it's true. The characters transition from failed academics and overall social losers to ghost exterminators and that transition works. They talk some pseudo-science to establish that they know this stuff, but that's a part of who those characters were at the beginning. They step you through getting-to-proton-packs. They don't just invent them immediately.

Also, the fighting and special effects. This one's a given. It almost doesn't warrant mentioning that 30-ish years makes a pretty huge difference in the special effects department. It's obvious. But it IS pretty damn cool to see it anyway, so I'm mentioning it. The third act has an action sequence that would have been impossible 30 years ago. The movie turns Ghostbusters into a legit action movie for almost 10 minutes. I loved it and then felt a little bad about liking it. You can kick this movie for not starring Bill Murray and Dan Aykroid and that's unfair. But you can kick that movie for not having bitchin' special effects from the literal future and that's unfair too. Man, if the original Ghostbusters could roll like this!

Mostly, this movie is more different than better or worse. Like I said, nobody is trying to be the original Ghostbusters.

Is It Really Sexist Against Men?

I've heard this argument and I don't think so.  Not unless you need strong male representation in your movies.  Despite what you might have heard, the movie doesn't dump on men.  It's just not interested in them.  There's an argument about all the men being goofy and dumb.  Well, so are the women.  It's a screwball comedy.  This is a movie about women who have no meaningful connections to men.  Is that needed, though?  They could have made Chris Hemsworth a more sympathetic character or even a viable love interest.  But would that make a better movie?  Sure, a better romantic movie that isn't really funny.  It would be like the end of Wedding Crashers: unnecessary and undermines what made the rest of it funny.  Imagine if Wedding Crasher ended early, when they got kicked out of the mansion, like it should have.  People would rail against its message and portrayal of women.  But man, comedy classic.  It would be a better movie.

So, should you see this?

I laughed a lot and had a great time.  The quips came fast and mostly landed.  The movie works on it's own merits for what it is.  The better question is whether it's for you.  As far as that goes, people kinda made up their minds about that, I think.  You already know if you DON'T want to see this.  If you think it's okay to exist, I can tell you it's funny and works.  It's not perfect, but it does what you probably need it to do.  I call it the third Feig/McCarthy movie, to give you an idea.  But this time there's a whole team of funny women mixing it up with her, so she's not as big a focal point.  If you think the Feig/McCarthy movies are "for women", you'll feel the same about this.  But it made my day.

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About siddartha85one of us since 1:07 PM on 07.18.2011