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Movie Breakdown: Ghostbusters (2016) (Noah)

July 15, 2016

Film

Pre-Screening Stance:

Amidst all the sweaty-man web-trolling, my only instinct – regardless of the absolutely subpar trailers – is to root for this film. Also, Paul Feig, when he’s on, is a comic genius. When he’s not, well, he makes The Heat.

Post-Screening Ramble:

For all the hype – negative or otherwise – that’s been lofted around about an all-female Ghostbusters reboot, I have to say I was expecting to either love or hate Paul Feig’s new film. Sadly, I walked out of the theater, thinking nothing more than, “Wow, that really wasn’t a very entertaining movie.” Which with a cast of women (gasp) this endowed with the ability to be funny, feels particularly egregious. And it’s not just the humor that falls flat, it’s the story and the ghost logic and everything else that in 2016 should be wrapped up in a neat little bow, yeah, all of that stuff just trips on the curb and bites it. The film starts with Professor Erin Gilbert (Kristin Wiig, who has still somehow not discovered how to maximize her abilities) finding out that her old friend Abby Yates has started selling their old book about the scientific proof behind the paranormal. Through a series of ham-fisted plot developments, Yates, Gilbert and Yates’ partner, the surprisingly unfunny Kate McKinnon, end up discovering a ghost, and then, discovering a ghost conspiracy. Somewhere along the way, Patty (Leslie Jones), an MTA officer/New York history buff, joins up and then wham-bam-thank-you-ladies, it’s Ghostbusters time. Other stuff happens and big, super-saturated ghosts walk around New York City, and Chris Hemsworth plays dumb and good-looking really well, and then a vortex opens and then, well, not to spoil anything, but the Ghostbusters save the day and the film ends. And, honestly, my viewing of the film was about as entertaining as that last sentence. The film feels soft, like a bunch of corporate suits sat in a room and gave Paul Feig exactly the percentage of funny, heart-warming, improvisational and crass he was allowed to add to the film to still make it potentially (because there’s a good chance this film bombs huuuuuge this weekend) tentpole franchise. And that’s the problem, this isn’t a movie made to make people laugh (though it tries hard, I’ll give it that), it’s a film made to usher people, softly back into the world of Ghostbusters so in two years or four years or every other year, they can pump out another half-baked comedic “meh” and a bunch of folks who don’t even want to step in the same arena as offensive, will crowd the theaters to see if Slimer makes a doo-doo joke. After everything, months and months of lady-bashing and high-octane nerd-assaults against this film, what it comes down to has nothing to do with which naughty bits are hanging between the legs of the stars or if it maintains the spirit of a film that was made back in 1984 – it just isn’t a very good movie, and that’s really all that matters.

One Last Thing:

For a movie that “pushes the boundaries” because it has four women as its stars, it really toes the line of caricature with Leslie Jones’ Patty character. All the other white women in the movie are scientists and Patty pulls tickets at the subway. Beyond that though (which is frankly, enough) Jones jokes are all built around this sort of “aw shucks, ghosts are crazy” humor that appears a little too frequently for modern sensibilities.

Another Last Thing:

The new Ghostbusters theme is awful. I’m not going to try to paint various shades of opinion here, it’s just terrible, perhaps the worst part of the entire film. Well, aside from the even more awful bro-screamo-metal band that plays for two and half minutes for no reason whatsoever.

And One Other Last Thing:

There’s a dance scene that the credits roll over that I’m glad did not end up in the finished cut of this film. That is all.

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