Friday, July 15, 2016
OK, it's finally here and people can speak about it from an informed point of view rather than a knee-jerk reaction from internet trolls. I loved the original "Ghostbusters", and I had no problem with the idea of a reboot featuring women in the leads. The cast looked promising but I will say I am unfamiliar with the work of Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones, but as alums of SNL they could be great or complete busts. The idea of putting together four funny women as a new crew of Supernatural fighters should work. The hate this movie generated however was amazing. The trailer has three times as many dislikes as likes and I've heard it is the most disliked video ever on YouTube. Many people are locked and loaded to hate this film, but I was not one of them.
As it turns out the haters are closer to the truth than are the naively optimistic. It is not something to hate but it is not very good. It seems strange with the talent and money spent putting it together that the film misfires so much. Most of the ways the movie fails have little to do with the cast or the concept but everything to do with the script and the tone. There are good things in the movie but they are passing elements rather than things that grow from the characters or the situations. The most laughs I had were in the end titles and it seems like they were just tossing in material they did not think would work in the film but for me was the stuff that worked the best.
Maybe the biggest problem is that no one will ever be able to reproduce the odd, karmic attitude and timing of Bill Murray in the original. This movie tries very hard to make the characters funny but it just feels flat almost in every scene. The opening sequence, which has none of the featured performers in it, is the best moment of the film. When the titles came up I was excited that the movie was getting started on the right foot. Kristen Wiig is a character so unsure of herself that she denies authorship of a book. Murray on the other hand was so self assured that every time something did not go as planned, you were amused by his reaction. Wiig's Erin Gilbert expects to be mocked and that just does not work for the movie. Melissa McCarthy on the other hand is mostly just progressively loud. When given the chance she can be great. She carried last year's "Spy" on her back very effectively. This performance feels more like one of those numerous comedies of hers that I have avoided in the last few years[Tammy, The Boss, Identity Theft].
In the plot of the movie, political forces get involved and it comes out of no where and it makes absolutely no sense. Andy Garcia as the Mayor tries to thank and deny the Ghostbusters simultaneously. His annoying assistant seems to pop up every so often to divert the plot from the original point and basically for no reason at all. One of the reasons stuff worked in the original film was it was played in a somewhat serious vein. The Mayors office was interested in election year politics and the EPA guy was a bureaucratic weeny drunk on his own power. Every character the Ghostbusters interact with in this film are unrealistic and unconvincing. From the Department chair who thinks Princeton is not a prestigious enough school to get a recommendation from, to the Dean of the other institution who uses the middle finger as his primary form of communication and the Mayor who is so indifferent, nothing feels real. There are segments that feel cut and pasted into the story, there never is any drive behind the story as it develops. In spite of all the frenetic energy being put into this, I thought it was pretty lifeless.
When the original theme music is used in the film, you can almost convince yourself that there is something worthwhile happening on the screen. When you hear the theme from Fall Out Boy, you will want to cry because it mangles all that was fun in the Ray Parker Jr. original. There are call backs and cameos throughout the movie. Keep your eyes open for familiar faces, except for Rick Moranis and Harold Ramis (RIP), everyone shows up for a bit and they are fun. It's just not enough to justify seeing the movie.