Guest Critic Elyse Thaler weighs in on GB '16
Let me be clear, as a twenty-seven year old woman who was raised to be a feminist and is currently fighting for her place in the entertainment industry I didn’t just want to like Ghostbusters... I wanted to love it. I wanted to have a reason to stick out my tongue at all the naysayers who said an all female cast could never be as good or funny as the original. So I’ll be the first to admit that I had higher than normal expectations riding on this film, which made the disappointment of it much more devastating.
That’s right; I said it. I thought the new Ghostbusters sucked.
Overall GB'16 felt lost, like it wasn’t sure whether it should emulate the original or be its own thing. The first twenty minutes of the movie would lead you to believe the former (that the biggest difference between the two films would be women playing the lead characters). Those twenty minutes were the only point I was actually invested in the story. I think I was still hopeful.
But once all four women joined forces to capture ghosts it lost me. Sure, there were some funny lines. I can laugh at a recurring wonton soup joke just as much as the next person. Yet even that, which admittedly was the funniest part of the movie for me, felt a little forced and desperate by the end. It felt like a cheap way of distracting the audience from the fact that the plot being presented really wasn’t that strong to garner a ~two hour runtime (which felt more like four hours to me).
In the original, the ghostbusters are fighting the clock to defeat a demigod named Zuul that is living inside Sigourney Weaver’s fridge. Besides being super helpful frying up some eggs for breakfast, Zuul and all the other demonic beings are actually pretty terrifying. I can’t be the only one who had trouble opening up closets afterwards because I was afraid a demon dog would jump out at me.
Yeah, it’s a pretty recycled storyline and it just felt like the writers were too lazy to try and embellish Casey’s character so as to give me as an audience member something or someone to root for. Because when you have a character, a villain for that matter, written as surface as Rowan North there just has to be another piece of the film puzzle that makes it worth staying tuned in for. Give me a reason to care. Like, maybe make the ghosts cool?
They weren’t. Slimer (the fat, green ghost) has a wife in the remake, which was kind of cute in a predictable sort of way. All the other ghosts just looked odd. I’m not an expert on visual or special effects but after thirty-two years you would think that even the retro look that I’m assuming the filmmakers were going for would be an improvement from the original. But once again I was disappointed.
It was disappointing that we could have an incredibly talented slew of actors in one film still not be able to cover up the poor story. It was disappointing that a film that knew it was going to be dealing with feminism in Hollywood couldn’t even fall back on the joke of Chris Hemsworth being the “sexy” character that’s just meant to be objectified. That joke just got tiring.
In fact, if I had to pick only one word to describe the Ghostbusters reboot that would be the one: disappointing.
In twenty-minute increments as a sketch for something like SNL I think this could have been great, but as a blockbuster it felt too long and not funny enough. Ghostbusters (2016) is an example of how sometimes even having great, name actors can’t save a film if the writing and the story aren’t compelling. So once again we have a remake that doesn’t live up to the original. And before you say it, no, it honestly has nothing to do with the fact it was recast with women. It was just a bad movie.
The good news is that we are finally breaking down the walls of gender casting, so if I were going to give kudos for anything it would be for that.
On to the next one, ladies!
Photo Credit: Chip Bolcik of Chip Bolcik Photography