Ghostbusters (2016) - The War on Men Begins with the Desecration of Dan Aykroyd's Ghost Blowjob

Ghostbusters 2016 cast

♪ I'm in the business of misandry, let's take it from the top
It's got an all female cast and they're never gonna stop ♪


Directed by: Paul Feig
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth
Release Date: July 15, 2016 
Run Time: 116 minutes


Before embracing the schadenfreude and watching Ghostbusters (2016), I decided to refresh my memory about the original movie by watching it the night before. Unlike most denizens of the Internet, I never grew up with the 1984 Ghostbusters. Sure, I had a couple toys (you just had to have the toys, you see), but I didn’t even watch the cartoon. This isn’t something that’s sacred to me, something from my childhood that I couldn’t bear to have remade. This led to an interesting conversation, however: is there any movie from your childhood you couldn’t stomach being remade? There’s no movie where a remake would be so bad that it would will the original into nonexistence. Nobody is taking your precious movie away; your VCD of Highlander will stay in your possession until your untimely death and you will be buried with it like a pharaoh. Either the remake is better (like The Thing, The Blob, or The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) or the remake is shit (every other remake of anything ever) and you can just ignore it and go on with your life. Trust me, Star Trek fans have been doing that with the first movie for nearly 40 years now. I’m sure that if we all join together, we can look beyond petty squabbles about remaking movies and focus more on preserving the environment, or saving endangered…

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Alright, alright, I suppose I should actually talk about Ghostbusters (1984) now, or else this thing will never be finished.

Ghostbusters was more than just a movie: it was a phenomenon. The movie was a gigantic success, the theme song was a hit, the toys sold like hotcakes, and the cartoon ran for seven seasons. Despite all that, I never got a chance to see it until I was in college. It didn’t grab me or anything; I think I was probably too busy organizing my giant cache of Frank Zappa albums to pay attention. It was summarily logged into my subconscious as one of those overrated 80s “classics” that just doesn’t hold up. Upon rewatching, I’m willing to flog myself for my laziness. This is a damned good film, one of the finest of the 80s. Be careful, you might want to handle hot takes of this temperature with gloves. It’s funny, it has heart, it’s exciting, it’s got great performances with great writing, it’s shot well, it turned a previously humorless genre into the funniest movie of the year, and it’s totally rewatchable. This is a classic for a reason; it appeals to a great many people and it appeals strongly therein.

So Ghostbusters (2016) has some pretty big shoes to fill.

That being said, Ghostbusters is actually prime material to remake. Sure, it would have made more sense to make this the third installment of the series (I’m sure Paul Feig would’ve been able to figure something out), but that would mean acknowledging the second movie, and no one wants to do that (anyone who claims this movie ruins Ghostbusters for them clearly hasn’t seen the sequel. Claiming it's better than I remember is like claiming the Prequels aren't that bad). With some updated special effects and a cast that’s at least as funny as the original, the reboot would probably be a welcome addition to the cinematic universe (It is Sony, after all. Look at Amazing Spider-Man 2. Actually don't). With cameos from the vast majority of the original cast, it’s clear it has the support from those who made the original as well.

The cast is actually where you’ll probably decide whether you love or hate the movie. When an all-women Ghostbusters team was announced, I thought it was a fabulous idea, and immediately speculated that Kristen Wiig would be attached. As far as I’m concerned, she’s much funnier than Tina Fey/Amy Poehler/Amy Schumer/whoever the comedienne of the moment happens to be, and I hope she continues to get work. She’s mostly good in this outing; it certainly doesn’t live up to her performance in Bridesmaids, but she has a decent amount of funny lines and she brings some much needed grounding in the straight woman role. Leslie Jones, on the other hand, tries so hard and her dialogue seems so forced and unnatural that I’m inclined to think she didn’t adlib a single line in the movie – and I wish she had. She’s boring enough to not get her own paragraph, sadly.

Kate McKinnon was easily my favorite Ghostbuster, and that might be one of the more controversial statements from this review. Her character, Holtzman, is undeniably a love-it-or-hate-it sort of character, the “quirky” (read: wacky/kooky/eccentric) character has been done to death in enough other forms of media that a less inebriated man than I could surely come up with dozens of examples. Chalk it up to me being an Undertale fan, but this was the only character I was able to connect with. She’s funny, she’s charming, and at the end there’s a really sympathetic bit. If there’s anything this movie does as well as the original, it’s characterization: sure, the 84 movie established characters far quicker and more naturally than this one did, but enough time and respect is given to each character that that’s what they are: characters.

Ghostbusters Kate McKinnon
"You try saying no to these salty parabolas."

If McKinnon is the strength of the squad, it is very easy to point to the weakness: one Melissa McCarthy. Everyone I talked to who was excited for this movie told me that she was excellent in Bridesmaids, and Spy, and Heat. Unfortunately for her, I am not reviewing those movies. I am reviewing Ghostbusters, and she didn’t make me laugh even once. I certainly don’t blame her, I could tell the problem was the writing. Much like Jones, she simply wasn’t given any good lines. That’s not to say the writers weren’t trying: McCarthy gets the lion’s share of the jokes, and they make sense, but they never find purchase.

Ghostbusters Melissa McCarthy

This, unfortunately, is the biggest weakness of the movie: it’s not very funny at all. What made the original Ghostbusters work is the comedy; it was constant, and all the jokes were home runs (to anyone who claims Ghostbusters was a horror/thriller with comedic trappings – you’re a fool). The reboot has the first part down, with nearly every minute being filled with a joke of some sort, but the laughs are incredibly few and far between. There’s this bit about the semantics of the term “let the cat out of the bag” that isn’t even remotely funny, but you could tell everyone involved thought it was on par with the best parts of the original movie. The absolute nadir of the movie is an Ozzy Osbourne cameo that lasts about four seconds and makes no sense whatsoever. It’s clumsily edited and elicited nothing but groans and “huhs?” from the audience. Speaking of groans, these were heard lilting from the mouths of patrons whenever another cameo or reference to the original movie was made. I’m not sure who made the decision to cast Bill Murray, the best part of the original movie, in an ultra-serious role, but it was ill-advised and a little bit distracting.

Too many people have argued that this movie should stand on its own, and that in a perfect world it wouldn’t be compared to the original. That’s bullshit, and it’s particularly hydrous bullshit because this movie tries so hard to remind us of the original. The backstory of the original logo and callbacks to the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man were unavoidable, but requoting lines just made people wish they were watching the original (a noble venture). Mind you, there was admirable restraint shown from Feig. He didn’t blatantly re-do key lines like Tim Burton in his Planet of the Apes re-imagining, but the callbacks to the original occurred far too frequently for me to feel like this movie was “doing its own thing.” Gone is the incredibly taut script from the original, in pace of a sloppy slapdash approach to jokes that seems to be filling breaks more than it is trying to entertain. I’d be giving an overview of the plot, but I don’t feel it’s needed. Our web guru told me 60% of our traffic comes from readers who’ve already seen the movies we’re writing about, and are just looking to confirm their opinions. Then again, I’m not sure how trustworthy the guy is.

"The web conch has spoken, and it has declared we must increase our white guy karate output"

Regardless of all my hurled invective, this isn’t a bad movie. I might even call it good if it didn’t feel so wrong to call a not-so-funny comedy “good.” Chris Hemsworth is unquestionably the best part of the movie (before he gets possessed), and some of his lines exceed even some from the original. It’s a little odd, because I thought the original secretary was a great, even underutilized character, but this is definitely an improvement. Another thing this movie does as well as the original is my favorite form of comedy: grace under pressure. There’s really something special about this form of humor, exemplified best (I think) by shows like Frisky Dingo and Archer. The ability to crack wise in a stressful – even deadly – situation is tricky, because it aims to entertain at the risk of a reminder that what the audience is watching is fictional. I’ve dumped on the writing for not being funny enough (particularly for Jones’ and McCarthy’s characters), but it was good enough to keep the plot interesting. Even if I didn’t laugh nearly as often as intended, I was at least invested in the story, and it’s partly due to the effort provided by the cast.

This is a very pleasant movie: the cast is fun to watch for their chemistry, there’s a pretty good story and it’s well-told, and most importantly is how this is going to appeal to little girls. None of the girls are made into sex objects or dressed up like Barbie dolls, they’re (mostly) scientists who are results-driven, hard-working professionals. I may not have laughed enough, and that is the most important thing this movie should have done, but this is a great feminist movie, perhaps the best one since Mad Max: Fury Road. When I see fans of both sexes dressed up as proto-Ghostbusters, I feel like maybe God’s earth isn’t so grey for a moment.

Kristen Wiig meeting Ghostbusters fans
I can't even tell if that's Kristen Wiig or Sigourney Weaver.

Where I run into a problem is whether the movie has any reason to exist. I can’t think of a single thing this movie did better than the original. If this movie has inspired me to do anything, it’s to buy the original on Blu-Ray. Seriously, I want my progeny to know about this gem of a movie, and I don’t think it’s wrong to say that I want them to watch the superior version. What really gets me is that there was such a virulent controversy over such a safe, easy, inoffensive movie. There’s already some laughable rumor skulking around that this movie is somehow sexist against men. This is so ridiculous on its face that I don’t even need to address it. I’m sure there are enough hand-wringing think pieces on some worthless clickbait websites addressing misogyny vis a vis this movie; you’re free to go read those articles, because I won’t discuss it here.

At the end of the day, the director remains a talented director, the cast remains popular, and the original remains a classic, so what’s changed? Well, I’m out $10.50, for starters. Girls have a new group of positive role models to look up to, so that’s nice. The Internet will find some new controversy to froth over, so that’s out. Was it right to remake this movie? I’m not so sure anyone was hurt by it. I’m still going to have the original, and Hemsworth and McKinnon’s performances are somehow enough to keep this reboot memorable. I guess we’ve learned that there’s no movie that’s really off-limits.

Big Trouble in Little China exploding
Except Big Trouble in Little China. You can't have that one. That one's my baby.

I’ll get back to Tekken soon. In the meantime, drink your milk. 

***This movie review written by Chris the Intern. Comment below and tell him how wrong he is. No registering necessary (until one of you ruins it for everyone).


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