NEWBIES: If this is your first trip here (welcome!), here’s the QT on what these reviews are. THIS WEEK: After 32 years, four women (finally?) step up to answer the question, “Who ya gonna call?” Melissa McCarthy (Abby Yates), Kristin Wiig (Erin Gilbert), Kate McKinnon (Jilian Holtzmann) and Leslie Jones (Patty Tolan) team up to remake the 1984 paranormal-comedy classic film with different plot details, weapons, car, male secretary (Chris “Thor” Hemsworth), ghosts and gags.
Written by Kate Dippold & Paul Feig. Directed by Feig. (Based on the film written by Dan Akroyd & Harold Raimis and directed by Ivan Reitman.)
• After three decades, the special effects have gotten better. (Although they did try to mimic those of the original in several places, so parts don’t look that different.) Some of the spirits (not all of which are human) are very cool. The giant ghost running amok in the city is handled almost as cool as in the first one. And there’s a new type of ghost form that shows up near the climax that was my favorite.
• Some genuine laugh-out loud parts, depending on your gender and sensibilities. (Including gobs-a-plenty of slime! And physical comedy.)
• Great character acting by the leads, although Wiig wasn’t as strong as the other three. McKinnon stands out as the psycho alpha-dog (though some may find her too much). Jones’s “hollerin’ black mama” persona was dialed down from the earlier previews and comes off more believable and not as cartoonish, and let more of her comedic acting chops shine.
• Cameos by all the main (living) characters of the original movie, except for Rick Moranis, whose face shows up near the beginning as a bronze bust. All the guest spots are fun, some more clever than others. (Bill Murray has the most screentime.) Plus a quick gag with Ozzy!
• Ladies (and gay dudes?) get a major treat with Hemsworth in tight T-shirt, topless photos and a dance routine, including an extended series of dancing bits during the credits. His character is sterotypically himbo-dumb, but in a funny and more creative way. (The ladies laughed more than the guys at my theater.)
• Several nods to the classic in different ways throughout; I’ll let you find them. (There’s even a quick reference to the initial controversy and negative fan reaction on YouTube over this film after the first trailer was shown.)
• An interesting way to incorporate the famous “no ghosts” logo design, twice (including an animated version).
• It’s not a scene-by-scene or even plot point-by plot-point remake. The story is definitely different. (But thankfully the theme song is still used.)
• Some of the different weapons used by the team are pretty sweet.
• Film dedicated in the credits “for Harold Raimis” who passed away a few years ago.
• Speaking of credits, there’s stuff during the main ones, in the background while the end titles are rolling, and a button after everything setting up the sequel.
• I totally understand why they went with a 1984 Cadillac Fleetwood hearse for “Ecto-1,” instead of rehashing the classic 1959 of the first flick, but anyone even the least bit into cars will tell you it’s like comparing a shoebox to a rocketship. (Can’t beat curves and giant fins.) A modern-day model (especially a Chrylser) would have looked much cooler, or even something older, like from the 1940s.
• Maybe ’cause I’m a dude, but some of the gags seemed forced and overall it wasn’t as funny. There’s plenty of physical comedy, which is cool, but no comedic romance, like the unrequited one between Moranis and Sigourney Weaver, or the hilarious love scene with Weaver and Murray. Furthermore, no “Apocalypse in the refrigerator” equivalent.
• Ripoffs of (or tributes to?) the Doctor Who autons and (of all things!) Harvey Comics’ Ghostly Trio (WTH?), the latter of which plays a major part.
• The secretary of the first film (the delightful Annie Potts) wasn’t a clumsy dumbass like Hemsworth, nor hired for her looks, nor drooled-over as eye-candy by the team. So the takeaway is, while it’s wrong and offensive for the minority of men to objectify women, it’s okay and funny for the majority of women to objectify the minority of men. (I thought no one should objectify anyone.) I thought Hemsworth was hilarious, but you know if he were a hot babe, that’s how all the PCers would object.
• The classic warning of the original, “Whatever you do, don’t cross the streams!” was ignored here.
• We get early 21st-century girl-power but mid 20th-century black stereotypes. Three white women can be scientists but not black females, who have to talk like they’re from “da hood.” Is that the message the filmmakers really want to send? If yer gonna change something to “modern” sensibilities, why not make the black “girl” the smartest, skinny egghead and the fubsy white chick the loud, “working class” one? And where the hell’s the Asian or Indian actress?
• Product placement in your face: a can of Pringles prominently carried around (and even referred to as “delicious parabolas”), Papa John pizza boxes conveniently in the foreground, and, during the big overhead shots of NYC, only the “H&M” building has a bright logo that is clearly lit; everything else is dark…in New York.
• There was no wiseass, wink-at-the-audience, Bill Murray-type character.
• No less than three different versions of the theme song; seemed too much.
Definitely geared toward the female crowd, so it’s a good date, “girls’ night out” or “make-points-with-yer-lady” flick. Ladies will probably want to see it in the theater and dudes may want to check it out on cable, so I’m compromising and rating it as a rental. (If for no other reason than to see what all the controversy is about.) No idea how it will age; I saw the original Ghostbusters three or more times, many years apart, and it still entertained and made me laugh. Hope this does the same for the current generation. As for the stupid controversy, I don’t care what the sex organs are of the actors; I just want to laugh and have a good time. Sterotypes, no matter whose, are still cheap.
P.S.: Get yer ghost on with an awesome art piece of any poltergeist, demon or spritied beefcake or cheesecake brought to life in an original Pascal commission for cheap. Just ask Craig here.
DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of Wednesday’s Heroes, Mike Pascale, feiminists, broads, babes, himbos, bimbos, blacks, whites, reds, yellows, browns or greens. Bru would not want to be slimed but would sleep with any version of young Sigourney Weaver, haunted or not!