Reel Talk

Ghostbusters was Surprisingly Delightful

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Sometimes it’s not easy being a geek. There are vocal minorities in the geek community that really make a bad name for the rest of us. There’s the psychotic DC fans who spew vitriol at anyone who dares say Batman v Superman was garbage, the morons who made death-threats at Nick Spencer for writing a plot twist into Captain America, and the people who get pissed off that studios have the gall to make a character they like a different race than they are. But one of the more loathsome groups that have popped up recently were the Ghostbros. A couple years ago they announced that they were making a new Ghostbusters movie, and that it would be an all female team. And people lost their shit. Apparently Ghostbusters was a monumental factor in a lot of grown-ass men’s life, and the sheer idea of making a new movie with ladies in it was offensive to them beyond anything they could describe. And it was baffling. Now, I like Ghostbusters quite a bit, it’s a fantastic movie, and when I first heard the news I was more wary about the idea of them making another one at all, not the fact that they were ladies. Who cares, you know? Well, apparently a lot of angry white dudes in their thirties care, because they’ve been losing their goddamn minds for the last couple months, going to extreme lengths to let people know that these weren’t their Ghostbusters. Which is ridiculous, but whatever, it was easy to ignore, and honestly spurred me on to see the movie in theaters in spite of them. I was probably going to see it anyway, since I see most everything for this site, but I hadn’t been particularly excited about it. The trailers didn’t do much to assure me of any quality, and I was either largely unfamiliar with the cast, or activley disliked them. But then reviews started coming in, and they were largely positive. Although I did notice that lot of them took the side of “see Ghostbros, it’s good!” which made me kind of wary that they were giving it a positive side simply to spite the idiots. But hey, I went to check it out, hoping for the best.

And you know what? I really dug it. I went in expecting a pretty fun movie that would probably be pretty forgettable. But I actually really enjoyed myself. It’s an odd movie, and I’ll get into that later, but first I’ll talk about the plot. Now, the story oddly isn’t a sequel to the original series. It doesn’t take place in a world where there are already Ghostbusters. We open up with a fun scene where there’s a haunting going on in an old New York mansion, before being introduced to our characters. We have Erin (Kristin Wiig), a physicist who has been trying to put her ghost-obsessed past behind her, Abby (Melissa McCarthy) her old pal who still very much believes in ghosts, Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon, the MVP of the movie) a physicist and engineer who makes the gadgets, and Patty (Leslie Jones) an avid history buff who knows everything there is to know about New York. The four are confronted with the sudden appearance of ghosts in the city, and get to work creating their Ghostbusters gear, and heading out into the city to start catching some spirits.

And things are going good, especially when they figure out that there seems to be some sort of human intervention going on that’s drawing the spirits to this plane. And that someone is the antagonist of the movie, Rowan, a sad, angry, white, nerdy man who is furious that the world hasn’t bowed down before him, and that people don’t love him despite how thoroughly unpleasant he is, and devotes his life to destroying the world. He’s invented some sort of devices that are drawing ghosts to Earth, while charging the Ley Lines in the city to create a vortex of supernatural energy. So the Ghostbusters start tracking him down, with the sort of help of their idiot receptionist Kevin (Chris Hemsworth) and eventually confront Rowan. Who promptly commits suicide with his weird ghost machine. That was easy! Until they find out that the suicide was all part of the plan, and Rowan is now able to posses Kevin and use him to open the vortex, blasting New York with spirits. So the Ghostbusters get to work, and start fighting all the spirits in Time’s Square, until it all comes down to them and Rowan. He leaves Kevin’s body, and lets to Ghostbuster’s choose his form, which ends up being the logo itself. He then becomes a monstrous version of the logo, and starts destroying the city, until the Ghostbusters are able to use their car to destroy the vortex, and save the day. Until Zuul shows up in a sequel.

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I had a blast with this movie. There were certainly some issues, but overall I really enjoyed myself. Now, I generally like Kristin Wiig, but I typically find Melissa McCarthy to be insufferable. So that was a wash. And I’d never seen anything with Leslie Jones or Kate McKinnon in them, so I wasn’t sure what kind of performances I was going to get here. But I was stunned. All four of the women were hilarious, had amazing chemistry, and created some really great characters. I was worried that they were going to be pretty one-note, especially Patty, from the trailers, but they were all great! Chris Hemsworth was surprisingly funny too, but he was completely outshone by the awesome portrayals of the Ghostbusters. I don’t know if they plan to continue on with this series, but I would actually love it if they did. The characters were so fun and likable that I would be down to see their continuing adventures.

But there were some issues too. The movie couldn’t quite seem to figure out if it wanted to be a total reboot or not. At times it reminded me of Force Awakens, because it basically traced the exact same plot trajectory of the original film. There were so many direct references to the first film, be them quotes, music, or imagery. And then there were the cameos. I didn’t mention it in the plot description, but basically every surviving cast member makes an appearance. But not as their characters. Bill Murray is rocking his best Truman Capote cosplay as a famed supernatural debunker, Dan Akroyd is a sullen cab driver, Ernie Hudson is Patty’s uncle, Sigourney Weaver is Holtzmann’s mentor, and Annie Potts is a receptionist at the hotel Rowan works in. So that’s weird. It just kept reminding us of the original, in ways that were super distracting. They should have just gone their own way, or made it a sequel to the original where they’re picking up the mantle of the original Ghostbusters. If they cut this out in a sequel, and stand on their own, I’ll forgive it, but as it stands these weird references really undercut the idea that this was a new story that we should be focusing on. I just kept waiting for Rick Moranis to show up, instead of just getting swept up in the new movie. It was just weird.

And yet that issue wasn’t enough to ruin the movie or anything like that. It was distraction and odd, but I still really loved the movie. And honestly, one of the things that I found most fascinating about the movie was how much it called the controversy. I guess the whiny man-babies were bitching before the movie even started pre-production, but it’s amazing how well the guessed the stupid outrage for this movie with the villain. The trailers didn’t really set up Rowan at all, and he was such a pleasant surprise. They basically made the villain of the movie the type of moron who has been yelling around the movie for the last few years. He was a sadsack, misogynistic loner who just couldn’t figure out why people didn’t love him. He claims he’d been picked on his whole life for his obsession with ghosts, and now that these ladies are being interested in them too, he’s getting pissed off and wants to show everyone why he’s better than them. He’s a Ghostbro! And the beat him by being better than him, and blasting his ghost-form in the crotch! It was a tad heavy handed, but who cares, it was great. And you know what? Even if I didn’t like this movie, it wouldn’t have mattered. Because these didn’t need to be my Ghostbusters. I got my Ghostbusters in the ’84 version, and it’s not like they’re going anywhere. It’s great that I still liked these ones, but even if I didn’t it would matter. Because I saw this movie in a theater full of parents bringing their little girls, and they loved it. The movie ended and I saw so many girls clapping and then running around the lobby pretending to be Ghostbusters. It was for them. It’s great that it worked for me too, but it’s so awesome to see that they have their own Ghostbusters too.

Ghostbusters was written by Katie Dippold and Paul Feig, directed by Paul Feig, and released by Columbia Pictures, 2016.

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