As one who never had a personal attachment to the original Ghostbusters film, I never had any interest from the widely disliked trailer which left a bad impression upon myself. What managed to draw my attention, however, was the extreme backlash especially from fans of the original much to the point that Ghostbusters of all things would turn into a political battleground, their sides determined by their opinion, an area where a middle ground sadly seems to be nonexistent. One can say they like this film and have themselves called an extreme feminist or an executive paid by Sony (two things I can assure you that I am not) and those who dislike it can be accused of being misogynists. It’s a shame because all I would ever really expect a Ghostbusters movie to be of all things is just a fun ride and at that, I enjoyed myself with Paul Feig’s take. It’s not a great movie by any means but at this point it’s rather sad that such drama has overshadowed the merits which it still contains.
Paul Feig changes everything around in his new take by having the gender roles reversed. It would be clear from Chris Hemsworth’s role playing the dumb blonde, a clever joke directed towards the concept that such characters are usually played by women. In this sense, Paul Feig is also using the role reversal as a manner to poke fun even at the original Ghostbusters film addressing an issue that plagued the first – in the sense that the original to some extent downplayed women. It’s an interesting idea to tackle at least in this new take which reverses the gender roles, and it’s rather commendable how it chooses to move along with the in-joke. The knowledge such characters are so obviously over-exaggerated is where a level of effectiveness comes in.
Although it very much includes enough touches that can provide enough to feel like its own take, there’s a lot worth noting about how it still feels very much a need to flow in the same manner that the original Ghostbusters film did, bit by bit. While I do appreciate the film’s willingness to show its own love for the original film especially when it comes to the cameos (unfortunately I can’t say much for that of Dan Aykroyd), the constant nodding to the original can be a bit tiresome after a while. It never sinks down to the rather cynical (and detestable, for the manner) levels of Jurassic World for at least Ghostbustersdoes allow for (and rather wisely use) such opportunities to distinguish itself apart from the original film. Not all of it works (the Fall Out Boy rendition of the theme and the villain are awful and much of the technobabble is difficult to follow along with), but when it works, it’s still enough to provide pleasant entertainment.
Speaking of the original film, it’s interesting to see how Paul Feig manages to recreate some of the charm that made the original as entertaining as it is. Like the original film, the visual effects may not always be the most convincing but there was a sort of interesting glory that came out of said aspect, in that they were trying to replicate the glory of a horror B-movie and be much more self-aware about it from the silliness arising from the tone set from the witty dialogue and comedic timing. Although the story may already be something we will come to know if we are familiar enough with the original film, Paul Feig’s understanding of what the original films stood for is where something commendable is present, as it still creates the feel of being its own film unlike Ghostbusters II, which noticeably is the exact same movie as the first film and in turn is a forgettable product.
To talk of the new team of Ghostbusters in this film, I enjoyed them for the most part. Kristen Wiig and Leslie Jones were funny with what they had, even if they don’t carry the exact same charm that Bill Murray and Ernie Hudson had (both of whom are great in their cameo appearances). Melissa McCarthy, whom I’ve never particularly been a very big fan of, wasn’t terrible at all, among the many pleasant things to have come out of another Paul Feig offering, Spy. Chris Hemsworth plays the dumb blonde so perfectly well, and if anything more came out of this role, I’m interested in seeing him take a venture into more comedy even if he were essentially playing the same role Jason Statham was in Spy (in which he was also quite funny). Standing out from the new gang though is Kate McKinnon, whose presence emits a bizarre charm from either her own line delivery or just her general actions throughout the film. She carries the spotlight so perfectly well and nothing ever obstructs her from giving off the comedic energy which she already shows on Saturday Night Live.
This new Ghostbusters obviously is not a perfect movie, but the fact that it has become a political battleground more than anything is something I find to be beyond ridiculous. It’s rather unfortunate that the controversy from the hateful fanbase dedicated to the original is likely to be remembered more than the actual film, for all it really seems it was meant to be was a fun time at the movies and on that level, it’s doing its job. Mainstream comedy from recent years is a field that is full of misses, but Ghostbusters proved itself an enjoyable ride for the summer, through Paul Feig’s willingness to carry an affection for the charm that defined the original film. People are sure to like the film or not, and I can understand both sides. What I can’t understand is when someone praises or criticizes it for carrying any sort of “progressive” message because it’s among the last things that I would have expected of a Ghostbusters film. It was all that it needed to be, it was a fun ride. Let’s not lie to ourselves now, this is a better film than Ghostbusters II.
Watch the trailer right here.
All images via Sony.
Directed by Paul Feig
Screenplay by Katie Dippold, Paul Feig, from the 1984 film directed by Ivan Reitman and written by Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis
Produced by Ivan Reitman, Amy Pascal
Starring Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth
Release Year: 2016
Running Time: 116 minutes