Movie Review: Ghostbusters (2016)

I was never going to like Ghostbusters, but not because of all the reasons stated on social media why a person like me wouldn’t like it: ‘cuz there’s women all up in it, that all four Ghostbusters were women, and on and on. Once I really think about it, who wouldn’t love this movie? Everyone just loves being told how to appreciate or approach a piece of pop culture, be it a movie, piece of music or art. The best ways are always the most linear ways!

I knew I wasn’t going to like Ghostbusters from the moment Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy were attached. That match made in cinema heaven has been tops with the mouth breathing moviegoers for the past five years or so. I didn’t care for The Heat or Spy when I saw their respective trailers, and when the Ghostbusters trailer descended upon my eyeballs earlier this year it played out the same way. I also initially avoided Bridesmaids for the same reason; until enough good word of mouth got out that I watched it very later on.

 

Paul Feig’s movies aren’t just for me, and I acknowledge this. Nevertheless, what about when he comes to Nostalgiatown and starts another mine colony in my childhood? Can I not then voice that I would rather he didn’t and just keep making insipid “White bitch bumps in to shit and falls over” “comedies” without being labeled a misogynistic asshole?

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Yawn.

For me, watching Ghostbusters was more a social experiment than anything else was. How bad could it be? Well…not that bad.

Not because it’s not a mediocre movie, which it is profoundly so, it just hearkens back to the idea that I’ve floated many times in my reviews: there just aren’t all out bad movies being made anymore.

Hollywood isn’t in to experimenting to the hundreds of million dollars level, and there is no way that any movie being made these days is going to be handled ineptly or incompetently. Movie studious aren’t in the habit of just handing a movie over to someone who just “feels like” making a movie. So, movies these days are at least competently made.

As a reviewer, you then have to look at other areas of the film. That’s where the bulk of critique, at least for me, falls on the script, then the flow of the film, and finally the acting. Ghostbusters tries to be clever all coming out in the summer trying to negate its vacuous plot. This goes further in that if it’s indeed a “summer blockbuster” it is certainly lacking in the BIFF! BANG! POW! Of your standard summer fare. However, that’s because Paul Feig notoriously doesn’t direct action well.

Which is the largest problem I have with Ghostbusters: it just hangs around….talking. Which, to the films credit is to Paul Feig’s directing strength. But there’s a lot of static jibber-jabber scenes that clog up the films run time and really do nothing aside from allowing some of the most egregious product placement since the last Michael Bay movie. A pizza break prominently features a couple of gigantic Papa John’s boxes, Kevin’s (Christ Hemsworth) interview where he shows them potential logos houses a 7-Eleven gag, there’s a Twinkie ad later in the film with the caption “That’s a big…”, and so on. Yeah sure, this isn’t some new fangled concept of blatant product placement, but I don’t think I’ve ever beheld it being so loud and in your face before.

Ghostbusters is that kind of broad modern day comedy that spends more time reflecting on how funny it is and the characters making note of it. As if the screenwriters were unsure of a bit and needed to indulge in a script based self high-five. There are a few times were characters literally say, “That’s funny.” to a joke.

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Oh yeah, the ONE scene where the actually bust a ghost!

There’s also this odd thing that the movie does where it will cut to what is apparently going to be an improv scene, typically involving McCarthy and Wiig banally riffing, then it will cut right back in to the scene as if nothing happened. It’s really odd and it feels like something that could’ve been cut out of the film altogether.

For a movie pretending to be a “summer blockbuster” Ghostbusters takes it sweet time about things. Clocking in at nigh on two hours, it feels padded with the aforementioned “improv scenes”, needless cameos (an Ozzy Osbourne cameo…in2016!), and weird little side scenes that really do nothing for the film.

One in particular would be when the “bad guy” Rowan (Neil Casey) possesses Kevin and uses “ghost magic” to make a police force lock itself in to some sort of goofy poses. Why? It serves no real purpose, other than to give Matt Walsh and Michael Kenneth Williams more screen time. On top of this, those officers were surely crushed when Rowan turns in to a giant evil Ghostbusters logo. Nope, they’re fine, even one of the troops on a tank kept position throughout the entire decimation of New York! Ghost magic must be a hell of a thing!

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The bad guy!

Speaking of Rowan, what a turd of a character. Basically a mysoginerd hell-bent on “cleansing” the world because he has been picked on all his life. The film just blatantly tells us he’s creepy. He’s always addressed as being weird, creepy or a freak, but there’s nothing outside of that that would support those claims. If anything, Rowan is just a dick that just so happens to also hate women, but that is also inconclusive, as he apparently hates all humanity with the same passion.

When he turns in to a giant evil Ghostbusters logo, after a sorry nod to the “choose the form of your destroyer” from the original film, the Ghostbusters shoot him in the crotch to get him to let go of a some buildings and get sucked back in to…ghost world? Why? You could just shoot him in the face to get the same effect?! The characters even reference this notion with Patty (Leslie Jones) saying something along the lines of that’s where they were “supposed to aim”. Yet again, this is the type of movie comedy they chose to make.

Ghostbusters could’ve been a better film had it not tread in the ground of all the reboots and remakes before it. It doesn’t try to really stand on its own. The all-female thing is apparently the only true fresh take it had in its arsenal. It falls in to the reboot/remake trap of trying to wink and nod to fans of the original with throwaway gags and references (oh look a bust of Egon in a scene!) instead of trying to stand on its own. The script cannot decide if the characters address each other by their last names, as they did in the original film, or by their first names. There’s a dizzying vacillation in the film, and it seems as though the movie just needed one more pass before filming to make the references fit better.

Ghostbusters isn’t a horrible dogshit social justice pushing agenda film. It’s a Paul Feig movie which if that is what his films mean these days I guess the haters were right. It’s a summer film for the mouth breathers, like the ones in the audience at my viewing, who are eagerly anticipating the cameos, and clapped and cheered at the end credits. There’s a better movie in there somewhere, but we’ll never see it. Hopefully, the inevitable sequel will be able to stand on its own better now that it has done its poor imitation dance of the original.

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Movie Review: Ghostbusters (2016)

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