From the Archives: Some notes on Ghostbusters

From the Archives: Some notes on Ghostbusters

In the interest of getting “hard” copies of my work under one roof, I plan to spend the next few weeks posting the entire archive of my film journalism here on ScullyVision. With due respect to the many publications I’ve written for, the internet remains quite temporary, and I’d hate to see any of my work disappear for digital reasons. As such, this gargantuan project must begin! I don’t want to do it. I hate doing it. But it needs to be done. Please note that my opinions, like everyone’s, have changed a LOT since I started, so many of these reviews will only represent a snapshot in time. Objectivity has absolutely no place in film criticism, at least not how I do it. 

Without further ado, I present to you: FROM THE ARCHIVES.
Originally posted on Cinema76.

Before it’s too late and it becomes old news, I’d like to drop a few quick notes about Ghostbusters. First off, let me say that I liked it a lot. It was precisely what it both aimed and needed to be, and in the face completely unwarranted controversy it managed to both comment on the nerd-tron pushback without obsessing over it or being preachy about it. Secondly, these notes will likely contain spoilers, so if you haven’t seen it (and you should), be forewarned, even though there’s not much information that could really be deemed spoilery, given the nature of the material.ghostbusters-pic-4

For me, the bar which had to be cleared by Ghostbusters consisted of two criteria:

1. Is it funny? 2. Does it feel like a Ghostbusters movie?

Yes and yes. Bar cleared. Ghostbusters is very funny, and consistently so. Much like the original film, there isn’t much by way of set-up/punchline gags. The humor comes from character interaction. This is why the Ghostbusters trailers chose to lean into nostalgia as opposed to trying to show gags. There really aren’t any.

This is, without any doubt, a Ghostbusters movie. The tone is spot on, and even the heightened color scheme feels like a natural development/modernization of the original palette. In a way it’s the perfect blend of the feel of the original films and of the multiple spin-off cartoon series. It feels new, but it feels like Ghostbusters.

Some thoughts:

– My two biggest problems with the movie aren’t really problems at all. First, the Ozzy cameo can go. It’s two seconds devoted to him simply showing up. This hasn’t worked for about 15 years and even back then it was a one-trick pony. We get it, he used to be scary but now he’s old and pathetic and needs the money. But imagine if we took the money paid to him and instead passed it to Rick Moranis, whose absence is my other gripe with the film. I know he’s pretty much out of the game, but since we managed to get every other Ghostbuster including Harold Ramis, literally any amount of money should have been put up to get Moranis on board (and maybe it was. I don’t know).

– The Ramis bust at the college? INCREDIBLE. My heart grew three sizes. When it first appears, it becomes very clear that the team behind this reboot has nothing but reverence for the franchise.


– I know that an R-rated Ghostbusters movie is not right and shouldn’t happen, but the amount of ADR applied to Leslie Jones’ improvisation can be a little bit distracting in how obvious it is. No big gripe, but ADR is a simple technology that, by its very nature, will never be perfect. Maybe just let it go, Bubs.

– I respect the fact that this is not a sequel. The credits state that it’s “Based on the film Ghostbusters” which perfectly describes the world it takes place in. It’s the same box of toys being played with by a different group of kids. I guess it could be called a reboot, but most reboots try to shine up the toys. These are the same toys.

– Chris Hemsworth puts on a comic performance that rivals his work in Blackhat. No easy task.

– Kate McKinnon is going to deservedly star in every movie for a period of about 5 years, starting in about 6 months. After that she will continue appearing regularly in high-quality comedy until retirement.  Her performance here is a showstopper.

– Best line in the whole movie is when Erin (Kristen Wiig) accuses the mayor (Andy Garcia) of being like the mayor from Jaws and it unleashes an angry scolding. “NEVER compare me to the mayor from Jaws!”

– I’m glad the dance sequence was cut and relegated to the credits. Something about the entire crime-fighting force of New York being stuck in a Saturday Night Fever pose is so much funnier than a full-on dance sequence will ever be.

– Slimer. Welcome back, old friend.

– Slime. Welcome back, old friend.

– Heck, as awful as the Fall Out Boy theme song is (and let’s be clear: it’s the worst song ever recorded in the history of time, and will likely not be topped for as long as humans have ears), it works in the 8 seconds of film to which it is applied.

– When it comes to fan service in reboots, let the record stand that it has never been done better. Ever. There are just enough nods to the original series without it weighing down the film, and none of them feel forced. Feig and Dippold managed to organically include these moments in the script and it, once again, shows reverence for the source material.

– Any time the new Ghostbusters fired up their proton packs, I got chills.

In summation, this joyful, hilarious, and imperfect film is NOT the cynical cash-grab that the detractors feared it would be. A cash-grab, yes (like any and all studio movies ever made), but not a modicum of cynicism can be found. Ghostbusters is as much another cog in the reboot machine as it is a product of love, and that’s why it deserves our love in return. It is a worthy entry into the Ghostbusters world, and it excites me to look ahead to what else may come from the franchise. Ghostbusters is as old as I am. It has been a part of my life since I was old enough to consume pop-culture, and here in 2016, it still incites a passionate response from the masses. This is a wonderful thing.

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