Ghostbusters 2016 | Redux Reviews | The Writers’ Room Podcast | Episode 315
The new Ghostbusters arrives smack dab mid-summer, the latest in a slew of continuing reboots, sequels, and other words that mean: no new stories. Beginning much like the 1984 original, a ghost pops up in a library. When strange apparitions appear elsewhere in Manhattan, two estranged friends, played by McCarthy and Wiig, reconnect to investigate, along with engineer, Holtzmann, played by the always alluring Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones’ lifelong New Yorker who knows the city inside and out. Turns out a disgruntled dude plans to unleash ghosts all over the city (for reasons never all that clear) and mayhem ensues when the four new Ghostbusters intervene.
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Linked by its creators, director Paul Feig and producer Amy Pascal, to feminism, the studio has made reviewing this movie political: if you’re not on board with it, you’re sexist. The movie itself feels like a children’s film based on the 90’s cartoon The Real Ghostbusters rather than the 1984 adult aimed comedy (see Kate McKinnon as cartoon Egon). It’s a confusing combination.
Fighting over whether or not an all-female cast of Ghostbusters was warranted is not the point, just a distraction that keeps audiences from realizing the true problem. The real concern is that in lieu of original ideas that could enliven audiences in new ways, studios continue to shill the same reheated stories, over and over again.
It’s bad for hearts – people need new stories to offer fresh perspectives, shine lights, and to help put experiences in context, or else they cannot improve or move forward, individually, and as a people. It’s no coincidence that there is widespread malaise right now, between political discontent, concerns over public safety and the environment, and a general feeling of hopelessness, and this summer has awarded a thirsty public very little cool movie lemonade to quench the thirst.
If this movie made you laugh and gave you an escape, then that’s worthy of noting, but as a film, it has major problems. When you look past the surface comedy and ignore the distracting edicts on feminism, the story is nonsensical. It’s riddled with logic problems, continuity errors, and is completely plot-driven (meaning the characters do what the plot tells them rather than having agency). We loved Kate McKinnon’s one liners, but wish we actually knew anything about Holtzmann other than she has a bizarre sense of humor and dresses like steampunk Howard Hughes.
All of which to say – it’s great to see talented actors employed, female and otherwise. Supporting cast like Michael McDonald and Ed Begley, Jr. show up and shine. And of course, four women headlining a big summer tent-pole and breaking through biases is not to be discounted. It’s a shame there’s not a better story at the movie’s heart – it would be an unstoppable box office force for the studio AND it would enrich audiences.
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